Monday, August 11, 2014

What War Should Feel Like

For all that there are things that are not perfect in Israel, there are so many things we do right. Sometimes, in the depths of sadness, we need to remember this.

Israel is not a politically correct country. Frankly, we really don't understand the world and readily accept that it doesn't understand us. This is not some game we are playing here; this is our lives. We cannot afford to be gracious and accommodating more than we have been. We have tried the road to peace for more than 60 years; it has gotten us nowhere.

What we do, how we wage war is determined by two factors. One is international law - but the greater and stricter value, the one that really counts - is our own sense of morality. We have conducted this war, as with our other wars, to avoid harming innocent Palestinians. It would be funny, if it weren't so pathetic, how our efforts are largely ignored.

Video after video shows what Hamas is doing - from firing from civilian areas, to hiding their rockets in UN-sponsored schools, mosques and hospitals, to standing - quite literally, behind children.

We are, as a nation, nearly crippled by the deaths of our soldiers. Each one is a physical blow. Tens of thousands of people all over the country have attended each of the 64 funerals of the soldiers we have lost. We didn't lose a nameless soldier thousands of miles away in an unnamed country fighting a battle that doesn't really touch us. We lost a son, a precious, irreplaceable place in our hearts and lives fighting to defend our homes and at any moment, we could get in a car and be where he died in a matter of minutes, hours at most. From the farthest point on Israel, we could reach the border with Gaza in three to four hours of driving. From my home, I can be there in just over an hour. I have friends who are right there, or 5 minutes away, or 30 minutes or whatever. This is the way it should be.

We are, as a nation, nearly crippled with the desire for peace. Each generation serves this country with the firm belief that in doing so, our sons and daughters won't have to. I have heard this from my son-in-law, whose son is only 3 years old. I have heard this from my friends, whose son fought in Lebanon. Each generation, each decade, each year and each month, we pray this will be the last time we send our sons to battle. And this is how it should be.

As a nation, we do everything we can to avoid hurting civilians on the other side, even as their very goal, their ideal target, is the innocent of Israel. They dance in the streets, nearly wet themselves with glory, when they hear that one of them has murdered three teenage boys, murdered a baby, set off a bomb in a mall. I have seen them celebrate; heard their fireworks, cheers and even gunfire. And despite their glee, we continue as before. We shoot flares into buildings - even the foreign press and the United Nations has confirmed our warnings - the leaflets we drop in Arabic saying this area will be targeted; the media announcements, get out of this Hamas-filled neighborhood; the text messages to cellular phones, time is running out. We confirmed that shooting was coming from a hospital in Gaza - we called them and gave them TWO days to evacuate and then we called them again, in Arabic...is everyone out? Are you sure? And then we blew it up a hospital that wasn't a hospital but an arsenal. All proved by the secondary explosions of explosives shown in video after our precision strike. This is how it should be - innocents should not be targeted.

At any moment, at every moment, all parts of Israel are connected. In the far north, in Jerusalem, everywhere, we know when a rocket is fired and where it hits. We are doing what we can to help residents of the south - special fairs are being set up with businesses coming north and many people surrounding them to purchase from them. We are sending down truckloads of toys and food for the children and families of the south. Most of all, we are worrying and watching and praying for the residents of the south - this too is how it should be.

What should a war feel like? It should feel like it does here in Israel - that you can barely concentrate on work you need to do; that at any moment, you have to stop and check that everyone is okay. You don't feel lucky because you live more than 40 kilometers away; you remain terrified who live less than that.

You count the seconds from a siren...7 seconds for those who are right next to Gaza; 15 seconds for those near Sderot and similar distances; 45 seconds for Ashkelon; 60 seconds for Beersheva.

And finally, when involved in a war, you should know and believe that there are can be no victors. No one wins in war. The only question might be who loses less. Israel is not claiming victory not because we have not shown our incredible military superiority and not because we celebrate their endless attacks on our open fields. We are not celebrating because we lost 67 worlds. This is as it should be...and we wonder how it is possible, if they really lost so much and so many, that they continue to break every ceasefire - no, that isn't as it should be.

The fact that Hamas can claim genocide and complete destruction on one hand and claim victory on the other seems to me to be a huge contradiction. So huge, in fact, that it boggles the mind that so many outside of Israel fail to realize this.

War should feel like hell...and it should be the very thing you work hardest to avoid and when it comes to your land, yet again, you should feel such incredible sadness. There are no videos calling for Israelis to march into Gaza and blow up innocent people; there are no songs celebrating this war. There is, in Israel, acceptance that once again our sons and daughters have been called to defend our land and our people and, as always, they have answered the call with honor, with morality, with strength and determination.


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