I'd have to search Wikipedia or whatever to tell you what other wars we were involved in during the 33 years I lived in the States. I remember the Cold War, but that wasn't really a war; I remember the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, but I had already moved to Israel by then.
But whatever wars America fought in my youth, they were on distant shores fought by unnamed and unknown soldiers. The only time I saw soldiers was on Memorial Day when they closed off the street in front of my house and we sat on the edge cheering and clapping as the veterans walked by, along with the high school band, the police department and the fire department.
I was younger than the soldiers, mostly old men who had fought a thousand years ago, or so seemed to a young girl of 10 or 11.
The first time I came to Israel, I was 16 years old and the soldiers were also older than me - only barely. But to a 16 year old, an 18 or 19 year old in uniform is worlds away. They were gorgeous and strong, they spoke Hebrew and attempted to communicate in broken English that made us all laugh.
When I moved here, in my early 30s with three small children, the soldiers had changed. They weren't men anymore; they were boys. Still gorgeous, still strong...but so young.
My first war in Israel wasn't really a war - and like my experiences in America, it was fought on distant shores, again by American soldiers. It was the Second Gulf War and though we carried around gas masks for days and feared, for a short while, that we would be attacked, nothing happened here and we slowly returned to normal, dismantled the sealed rooms and put the gas masks back up high on the shelves.
My second war...which was really my first, I later realized, was what was later called the Second Lebanon War. Then there was the Cast Lead War in Gaza which was incredibly personal because my son fought in it.
Then there was Operation Pillar of Defense, which never reached the level of a war, supposedly, but still, Elie was there for the entire time, under rocket fire, shooting artillery into Gaza in response to the endless rockets they fired at us.
Cast Lead was supposed to give quiet, if not peace...it did for almost 4 years. Operation Pillar of Defense was supposed to give us quiet...that didn't even last 2 years and so today, we are fighting Operation Protective Edge, which will, I am sure, soon be declared a war.
In all these wars, what have I learned...well, this:
- The build up to most of the wars involved attacks against Israel...but the escalation into war, each time, still came as a shock.
- No matter how much we explain, the Palestinians win the publicity battle for the simple reason that they lie - they lie first and loudest and their lies are printed on the first pages of the New York Times and broadcast in the first minutes of CNN, BBC, and others...and then later, when clarification comes, the truth appears near the end of the newspaper, near the end of the news. Each. And. Every. Time.
- Pictures beat words, every time. The fact that we repeatedly accepted ceasefires is largely ignored; as is the fact that they repeatedly break them.
- Pictures beat words, every time. The fact that they are firing at civilian populations means little because we created the Iron Dome that protects our citizens. Some idiot at the United Nations even condemned Israel for not supplying the Iron Dome to the Palestinians in Gaza.
- Pictures beat words, every time. The fact that Hamas is using human shields is ignored; the fact that journalists coming out of Gaza are now confirming these very facts - the use of human shields, the fact that Hamas is the one who bombed the UNRWA school where 15 were killed, and not Israel - yes, the correction is likely to appear on page 57 of the New York Times.
- Centuries of hatred of Jews still remains in the hearts and souls of much of Europe and so when there is a war here; Jews in France, Belgium, Germany and all over Europe pay the price.
- And finally, what I have learned but Hamas never does...is that there are no winners in war. None. Ever.