Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Talking to the Swedes

I was asked to be interviewed for the Swedish News Agency...they sent me some questions and I began to write...the last question was very open - tell us anything that you want...and so I did. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I tend to write long. I intentionally tried to keep my responses short. So - tell me how I did...

1. Can you describe your feeling sending your children to war?

No mother can be happy when her son goes to war. It is not something we dream of, not something we hope for. The first time my son was sent to battle in 2008, I knew that it would forever affect him, and it has. My feelings were a combination of so many things. I was terrified. I cried all the time. I wanted him home and not fighting in Gaza, especially given the way Hamas fights.

2. Is this anguish something that you discuss with other mothers?

Yes, every soldier's mother I know in Israel is feeling the same worry, the same concern. We comfort each other and share both our concerns and the knowledge that we have no choice, just as our sons don't. They are fighting to defend our families, our country. In this war, Gaza has fired rockets at almost all of Israel – well over 1,500 rockets. One came very close to our city. It landed in an open field just to the east. Three others were shot down by our Iron Dome missile defense system.

3. How do you cope with it?

We cope with it by knowing that they have no choice. We didn't choose this war; we didn't start it. No nation would accept this behavior for a single day; we have suffered it for years. Many nations support us in our right to defend ourselves and know that twice already, we accepted and implemented a ceasefire, only to have Hamas break it within a short time.

4. How do you follow your children? Mobile? Skype?

I'd rather not say – I would not want to compromise the safety of my children or anyone elses child and I have to hope you understand that.

5. What do they express when they have to go into war?

When my oldest son returned from the last two wars (really a war and an operation), he expressed his feeling that because we gave in to the world's demand for a ceasefire, that we'd be right back to where we were; that once again, we would be attacked by missiles. He was right. We are being hit by over 100 rockets a day. My elderly parents stay close to their bomb shelter so that they can get there quickly. Instead of telling you if there is traffic ahead or that you should not drive and text at the same time, the electronic signs on the highways tell you that if you hear a siren, you should safely stop on the side of the road. Our sons express their concern for what is happening at home and hope that this time the world will truly understand that Israel has the same right to defend itself as every other nation does. I would ask the people of Sweden what they would do to a country that fired 100 rockets in a single day at Stockholm.

6. What do your children do in the army?

Again, I do not feel that this is a question that I can safely answer. No mother should be asked to endanger her son.

7. Do they tell you stories about what they experience?
Years later, my oldest son still tells me about his experiences. You cannot go to war and remain untouched. This was never something that I wanted my son to experience but sadly, until the Palestinians truly want peace, it is reality here. As in the past, even a few days ago, we agreed to a ceasefire only to have the Palestinians break it within hours. Today, they attempted to attack a small village in the south; moments ago, they fired another barrage of rockets. If they truly wanted a ceasefire, we would, as we have twice already, accepted it.

Pls add what you like on the current situation.

Today and tomorrow and perhaps more times in the days to come, we will be burying precious and beautiful sons of Israel. We cherish our children. We spend millions of dollars to build bomb shelters for our civilians. The Palestinians spend millions of dollars (and 700 tons of cement at least) to build tunnels used to attack us; they spend a lot of money building secure bunkers for their leaders. Not only do they leave their people unprotected, they hide missiles and explosives in civilian structures like hospitals, schools, mosques and homes. Even the UN knows this to be true. UNRWA admitted that they found rockets in one of their schools. But instead of destroying the rockets, they gave them back to Hamas – which has taken credit for many of the rockets fired at Israel.

The Palestinians claim that over 400 people have been killed. Yesterday, 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in battle. Israel was in mourning last night. So many tears and so much pain…sad music on the radio, so many stories about the boys we lost. And last night, as I was sitting in bed ready to go to sleep, for over 45 minutes, I listened to the Arabs from several neighborhoods setting off fireworks and celebrating. I saw reports that they were celebrating in many Arab countries – because they managed to kill 13 of our soldiers.

I thought it was so interesting, so telling of the cultural differences between Israel and the Arab countries. Apparently the deaths of 13 Israelis overshadows the pain of supposedly losing 400 people.

As I was setting my phone to ring in the morning for an early meeting, I saw that the Arabs were claiming that they had kidnapped an Israeli soldier. They even claimed they had his ID number and name to prove it. Israelis were devastated and terrified…but also skeptical. Sure enough, it was yet another example of Hamas' psychological warfare and mind games. The name they had was one of the 13 dead soldiers.

I have heard that Sweden is very anti-Israel, and even anti-Semitic country. That saddens me greatly. It is too easy to decide who is wrong or right, weaker or stronger based on numbers. Yes, more Palestinians have died in this latest conflict than Israelis – but you need to look at the reasons why. Both sides are shooting rockets and missiles. Ours are guided and as precise as we can possibly make them. Several times, we have called off missions because our pilots identified civilians in the area. If our goal was to kill innocents, based on the number of rockets we have fired, there would be tens of thousands of dead in Gaza.

Theirs are not guided and not precise at all. While we are targeting military sites carefully chosen, they are simply aiming at our cities and hoping to kill. Why are they failing? Because we build bomb shelters and extensive sirens to alert people. We have trained our children, from the time that they are very young – that a siren means you have to run into a safe room. A little bit older, and they know that if there is no safe room, they have to lay down on the floor and cover their heads.

And we have spent billions of dollars to develop a defense system that is catching about 90% of the rockets we calculate will hit a populated area. Those that will fall in empty fields are not targeted; those coming within range of a city, are shot down. Today, we missed a rocket and it smashed into a house with a 4 month old baby and her toddler-aged sister. Both were with their grandmother in the bomb shelter and were not harmed; the house was basically destroyed.

Before people in Sweden judge Israel and demand that we accept a ceasefire on any terms, ask yourself if someone bombed Stockholm on Monday, as Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv several times today, would you accept an agreement that would have them coming back a year or two later to bomb you again?

In 2008/2009 my son was called to war to stop the rockets flying at Israel. In 2012, my son was called to war to stop the rockets flying. It is now 2014. Are we to do this every two years? Wait until they start firing hundreds of rockets at us in a few months or years and then mobilize our sons again and again and again? Is this what Sweden would do?

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