The winds in the Middle East, at least where I live, can be sudden and strong. Sometimes, you think you might be able to spread your arms and fly into the air. The wind is harsh; raising a garden is hard and takes a lot of work and selective planting. On the flip side, the air feels fresher, drier, cleaner. Those are the real winds.
We also have the other kind; the kind few experience in a life time and ones that already I have experienced twice - the winds of war. One of the things I love about this blog is that it provides me with a glimpse of hindsight, for the future. At the beginning, each time the Arabs threatened war, I wrote about the concerns, the special concerns you have when it is not only your nation, but your son in the direct line of fire. The concept is bad enough, the reality crippling.
In the first years that Elie was in the army, I lost count of the number of times Hasan Nasrallah of the Hezbollah threatened, how many times Gaza fired on Israel and deserved to be stopped, how many times Syria belched and Iran burped messages of hatred and war. I finally learned that it is almost a seasonal thing. Summer comes and the Arabs dream of war and destruction. They kidnapped Gilad and Ehud and Eldad in the early summer and within weeks, we were at war.
And just two years later, they drastically increased the number of rockets fired at Israel and within a month, we were at war again. Then, as now, we did not know where the war would start - in the north with Hezbollah or in the south with Gaza. Summer is coming, and once again we do not know.
The new trick is the flotilla scenario. Send ships to break a legally declared naval blockade against an enemy, prioritize politics over humanitarian aid, and you have the makings of a tense situation and possibly one that will lead to war. With one/two in the army and one in reserves who might well be called in case of war, life is never boring.
I remember that Elie's training was "rushed" in order to get his unit "certified" for war. There is a threshold that they must cross before they can be deemed ready to go to combat. Otherwise, they are left in training or shifted to a checkpoint while others go to battle. I have heard talk that the army is pressing to certify Shmulik and Chaim's units, though I do not believe they would be involved in a war such as the one we are currently facing. Too new to be sent "in"; they would likely be moved to checkpoints.
Elie, at 23 years of age, is a war veteran. Does that put a lump in your throat as it does to mine? Do your eyes fill with tears? I never wanted my sons to be war veterans. I grew up with the concept that war veterans were 70-year-old men remembering the distant past, not young men who have yet to live. But the army was kind to me. They put Yaakov in Givati, but he served as a non-citizen and so was discharged before he saw real action (or at least before he told me about seeing any real action - thanks, Yaakov!!!!). They put Elie in Artillery...a mother's "dream" in the army and though he was on checkpoints and in operations, he was smart enough to tell me the easy stuff and only now do the stories come out a bit.
Shmulik and Chaim are in ground forces. The time will come when I will be afraid for them; worry where they are and what they are doing. For now, they are in basic training and if there was one lesson I learned in the army, it was to worry about tomorrow when it comes. It's all about today...this day and every day.
There are ships heading to our shores again. They do not bring humanitarian aid; they abuse the very concept. They will be offered to unload their cargo in Egypt or Israel, as they were offered in the past. They will refuse. Their goals are political, their cargo and motives suspect. They will be turned back, this time and every time, no matter where they come from.
There will be no repeat of the Mavi Marmara, though this is what these ships are hoping for. No, we will not send our soldiers aboard enemy vessels...and yes, this is what they are and what they were. We will not allow our soldiers to be beaten, shot, stabbed by "peace activists" and "humanitarians."
No, this time, the ships will be met...and blocked. If need be, they will be sunk, at least, I hope so. I hope the Navy will quietly go under the waters and sink the ships after giving fair warning. And then, they should give the passengers three simple choices:
1. Call your international buddies and have them rescue you.
2. Prove you are not armed and then come aboard special ships so that we can save you, take you to shore and then send you on your way.
Your option - let us know, the clock is ticking. Will Israel do this? I don't know. But with each concession, we guarantee more ships will follow and more danger and damage awaits. If your goal were truly humanitarian aid, the contents of the previous flotilla would have been delivered to the supposedly needy people of Gaza, rather than sitting in Hamas warehouses undelivered.
The lesson of the Gaza War was that Israel will not be fooled twice. We were fooled in the Lebanon War; we triumphed in Gaza in many ways though there was more we should have done. The flotilla fiasco was a propaganda nightmare for Israel and not a victory for our troops, who went in unprepared for the hatred and violence they received. They expected and believed they were dropping onto a true humanitarian flotilla that stubbornly refused to recognize our legitimate security issues. Our soldiers thought they would have minimal resistance and would then quickly be on their way to Ashdod, crew and cargo safe.
What they met were trained mercenaries, terrorists, thugs. That mistake will not happen again. We learned in Lebanon; we learned on the Mavi Marmara. The Arabs never seem to learn. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice...and lose the battle.
The winds of war are again blowing in our direction - perhaps from Gaza or Lebanon; maybe Iran or Syria. What the Arabs consistently fail to understand is the basic, fundamental reality of the Middle East. There are 23 Arab countries; there is but one Jewish one.
We have no where to run, never did, and never will. The winds swirl around the mountains where I live until early evening when the cool air of rationality and night come visit. And then, it settles and it is one of the most beautiful, peaceful of lands. Most important, it is ours. Each of my sons have made a pledge to this land and to our people. Yesterday, an Arab approached a checkpoint with a bomb and turned himself over to the soldiers. He explained that he had been forced to go on this "mission."
Yesterday, Shmulik and Chaim trained and guarded. Not because anyone forced them, but because they understand that simple reality the Arabs have yet to grasp. War this summer? Maybe...maybe not. One day at a time...one day at a time...and today is good.