Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Human Side of War: Part 1 - Israel

If you believed world media (which would be your first big mistake), you'd picture a huge tank with a Jewish star and faceless men in green uniforms driving over babies and women living in tents with no electricity.

Of course, 22 days after this war began, Gaza does in fact have little electricity but that happened yesterday, so we'll ignore it for now...maybe next post.

Back to the image. In this imaginary picture the media would have you believe, the women and babies are doing nothing but trying to scrape out some food while not getting in the way of that massive tank...

Yes, that's the ridiculous picture and so there are two parts to the solution needed. One is to give a picture of us and the second is to give a picture of them.

This post is about us because I am so amazingly proud of the image and reality of my country and my people. Here are some examples:

Feeding the Soldiers

The old stereotype of the Jewish mother always trying to feed her children has become reality - only it isn't just the Jewish mothers but the Jewish fathers too (and the Jewish store owners, and neighbors, and well, everyone). Early on, a friend said he went to see his son who was stationed with reserve soldiers near Gaza (one of the few blessings of having your enemies close is that you have your soldier sons (and daughters) close as well). His son told him that he had gained weight from all the food people had given him. Here are a few other stories:

A father of a soldierwho is now in Gaza told how his son was informed on Friday that his unit will not be going out for Shabbat, which was a problem because they did not have any provisions after expecting to be released to go home for the weekend. The father ran to the supermarket to buy some things, as much dips and salads as he could. Then he stopped at a shwarma place in Petach Tikva. He asked for a portion to be put into an aluminum tray and explained that it was for his son who is in Gaza without food for the Sabbath.

The owner said to him "what do you mean for your son? How many soldiers are in his group?" 

The father answered "70" .

The owner called all of his workers. They prepared all the shwarma they had, brought out all of their meat, fried schnitzels, prepared Moroccan salads and chips and within an hour he and all of his workers had emptied the entire restaurant and given it over to the father.

The father, a religious man who has seen acts of kindness in his life, just stood there crying and thanking him.

Love and Commitment

Love is all over Israel today - from the young to the elderly. Here are two examples. This is the second Operation Protective Edge proposal I have heard about...what better time to commit to the future than at a time when you are most worried about today.

And this one - some elderly Holocaust survivors have collected about 100,000 shekels for IDF soldiers. Here's a picture of a few of them holding signs that say "Dear grandchildren, come home safe" and "Take care of yourselves" and "Yashar Koach (sort of slang for "good job"), Soldiers!"

A man has donated 100 mattresses for the soldiers who are sleeping on the ground just outside Gaza. He will even join in paying to have them shipped to the soldiers.

The soldiers sleep in open fields, under tents. Neighboring communities bring them food, open their homes so the soldiers can shower, give them access to their community pools when the soldiers have some down time and despite living in a war zone in which they have anywhere from 7 to 15 seconds to find shelter, they have opened their hearts to our soldiers.

An offer of a shower and a mattress to someone who has camped outside for nearly a month is an incredible act of love.

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