Sunday, June 15, 2014

Worry, Fear and Anger in Israel

Israel as a whole spent Shabbat immersed in pain. Clusters of people stood speaking only of the three boys who have been kidnapped, the other boys, classmates, who are worried about their friends. Every step through my neighborhood was one in which clusters of people stood around asking themselves what would happen. Mothers looked at their own sons and cried, understanding the pain of other mothers who cannot hold their sons this day. A friend looked at her infant and said to me, "I'm never letting him out of the house."

Gilad Michael, son of Bat-galim.

As I walked to the synagogue Friday night, I saw fireworks coming from Arab villages in three directions. I can't prove that this was celebrating the kidnappings, but I can tell you that in 12 years of living here in Maale Adumim, I have never seen this before - never so early in the evening, never in three villages at the same time. Coincidence? I don't think so - just as the pictures of Palestinians handing out candies and sweets in the streets in Gaza and elsewhere are not coincidence. They did this after 9/11; they did this after brutal murders committed by their sons; and they did this yesterday and today. They are celebrating. Fact.

Yaakov Naftali, son of Rachel

In each synagogue - special prayers were said; the boys' names repeated over and over again. By the time Friday was coming to an end, the entire book of Psalms was read dozens of times in prayers for the safe return of the boys. As I write this, thousands of people have gathered at the Western Wall and are praying. The Western Wall plaza area is full and the overflow is beginning to stretch outwards to the large open plaza beyond. They are blowing the shofar, a call to prayer - all for these boys. Prayer - this is what we do as a nation at the most difficult of times. This is our reaction - there you go. We pray. Fact.

Ayal, son of Iris T'shura

My eyes have filled with tears more times than I can remember and each time I wonder how it is possible for a mother's heart to keep beating when she doesn't know where her son is. She would know if he was hurt, right? Shouldn't she know, deep in her heart. What happens when you don't? When all you have is fear? A fear so deep, so all-consuming, you can't breathe.

What pressure these families must be feeling, what terror. The mind reasons things that frighten the heart and beg for some resolution. Only once in my life did I have anything even close to this - and then it was about something that had already been resolved. My son was safe - and for hours afterwards, I could hear my heart screaming - silent to everyone but me.

Gilad Michael, son of Bat-galim.

In small clusters, we talked among ourselves; asked ourselves what we want the government to do. Some are blaming the police and security forces for how long it took to mobilize - but honestly, how can we know when they began to move? Shut the water they get from Israel; shut the electricity. Let them sit in darkness. The angry words come out - only words because that is what we are left with.

Yaakov Naftali, son of Rachel

Some are blaming the Gilad Shalit deal - how many times were we warned that giving in would lead to worse? But how will that help now? The words that Golda Meir said in 1974 during the hostage situation in Maalot comes back to me. "On the backs of our children, we cannot fight a war."

Ayal, son of Iris T'shura

Two 16-year-old boys and a 19-year-old. This is what the Palestinians fight against? The difference in values is there for the world to see. And yet, I have no doubt that they won't see it. Israel has never targeted Palestinian children. Well, not usually - we did "target" Maazan Niad Awad - he was 18 years old. Along with his "cousin", who was 19 at the time, Awad attacked and murdered 5 Israelis in Itamar...including a 3 month old baby and a 3-year-old child. And when we targeted them and found them...what did we do? Did we butcher them as they had butchered the Fogel family? No, civilized nation that we are, we brought them to trial and put them in jail.

Gilad Michael, son of Bat-galim.

In a lot of ways, this situation is typical of the entire Israel-Palestinian conflict. It really is. Isn't it interesting that we deal with our anger by holding a mass prayer rally? Isn't it amazing that we don't hand out sweets in the street when our enemies suffer?

Yaakov Naftali, son of Rachel

When we exchanged Gilad Shalit for 1,000+ terrorists - Israelis and Palestinians celebrated. We celebrated the return of a young man who had been held for 5 years; they celebrated the return of terrorists and murderers. I've written many times that I'd rather live in a land that is ready to give up 1000 for the value of one of our sons, than a place that negotiates and blackmails for terrorists.

Ayal, son of Iris T'shura

And today, as my heart aches, I will say again, I'd rather live in a land that is deeply in pain, worried about three boys, agonizing over where they are, what is happening to them than any other land. I'd rather live here, even with the tears, than live in a society where they celebrate the waging of war against children, where cowards kidnap children and their society hands out candy and sets of fireworks.

Deep in our hearts right now, there is a mixture of emotions - there is worry and fear and anger. Worry because we don't know where the boys are and what is happening to them now. Fear because we don't know what will happen in the future. Palestinians have been murdering innocent Israeli children for decades. They did it in Maalot; they did it in Itamar. These are children - not one is a soldier, not one was armed. And for those who will quote inaccurate numbers of Palestinian children - I will tell you the fundamental and immovable truth is that we have NEVER targeted Palestinian children. Never. Not once.

I will not say that innocent Palestinian children have not died - they have and this is without doubt a sad and tragic reality when you wage war. But we do not, have never and will never target them. They are not our goal because unlike the "men" who took these Israeli boys, we are not cowards and we are not a cowardly society.

And yes, this is the point where fear mixes with anger. Anger because the world is not on fire demanding that the Palestinians release our boys; anger because Palestinians have taken to the social media world attempting to compare these young men to Palestinian prisoners - some of which have murdered, some of which have thrown firebombs and explosives - all of which brought their sentences on themselves by choosing the path of violence. All of them - and the society that produced them, encouraged them, sent them, armed them, trained them, brainwashed them.

Palestinians will say they chose the path of resistance - and that's fine. When you choose to resist - you invite the consequences of that so-called resistance. And they were then sentenced in a trial for a specific length of time. Their present and future known to them and to their families. None were sentenced to death because Israel doesn't have the death penalty for terrorism - no matter how vile it is. These Israeli boys did nothing, caused no harm. They were taken while on their way home - from school to home. There is no comparison.

May God watch over Gilad Michael, Yaakov Naftali and Ayal and bring them home to their families - safe and well and soon.

1 comment:

NormanF said...

I know one thing for sure: the Israeli government will announce more appeasement of terrorists to get the boys back.

A precedent was already set with Gilad Shalit. And the kidnappers will NOT be punished with death, even though this is mandated by the Torah.

As always, a Jewish life is cheap and expendable in Israel.

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