In the middle of the Cast Lead Operation (otherwise known as the Gaza War), I was approached by a "journalist" named Faisal who wanted to interview me. Now, I don't want to say that I automatically reject some requests and accept others. I've been interviewed by journalists from Korea, Ireland, Italy and the US. BBC, Fox, and once Al Jazeera asked but canceled at the last minute (it was on the day of the last bus bombing in Tel Aviv and they might have been concerned about giving that attack too much air time).
But something got me wondering and so I suggested Faisal "interview" me via email. It was, I quickly realized, a smart move. Some of the questions were so obviously stupid, I had to laugh, but one bothered me tremendously.
Faisal wrote: Before leaving to war zone, did u make farewell party for him? Did u spent all the night before he went?
A farewell party? What kind of a society do you come from?
There is no celebration for Israel in going to war. We've never handed out candies when our enemies die - as the Palestinians did on 9/11 and as they do regularly when there is a suicide bomb attack, so no, I never considered celebrating the fact that my son was going off to war. Elie was on another base before he was moved to the war zone and so we did not spend the evening together. The weekend before, we had all been together and, as always happens when Elie is home, I just relax and enjoy having him home. On Friday night, after lighting the Sabbath candles, I watched my husband bless his children. The last part of the blessing asks God to grant the child "peace." It's an especially important prayer you offer a son who is a soldier and I always feel very touched to watch my husband bless his son this way.I posted the entire "interview" here - if you want a good laugh, enjoy...
Later I went and found his blog - it was called HamasLovers...and had another funny blog post in which I denied his request to use my son's picture...and countered with some questions of my own...here.
I thought of this exchange from several years ago when someone posted this next picture to Facebook.
What did this Palestinian mother do the night before her son went out...no, not to defend but to attack; not to save the lives of those being attacked with rockets, but to further the cause of those who fire the rockets.
I see her cleaning his gun - the gun he will use to kill and I remember the few times Elie handed me his gun to hold. Once, we stopped on the side of the road to help a neighbor. He couldn't leave the gun in the car and he couldn't access the engine to see if he could help her.
Once, he was lifting something and said "hold this," and I said, "Elie...I don't hold guns...Elie...." and he took it away quickly. Another time, he handed it to Yaakov, who had been in the army - anyone but me. I never touched his M16 willingly, lovingly. and though there were times I handed him his uniform or helped him pack - I never helped him hide his identity in shame.
And yes, each time he left, I hugged him, gave him a kiss and prayed he would return to me. This picture, this sick idea of a mother was praying for his success in a mission that would have been suicidal. Victory for me was Elie and Shmulik walking through my front door - home and safe. I never took that moment of the door opening for granted. Not once.
What did you do the night before? I never prayed Elie or Shmulik would kill someone. I never prayed they would have glory or be heroes. I prayed they would never fire their guns and I begged God to please, please, bring them home safely.