Friday, November 25, 2016

Israel's Fires from a Personal Perspective

I'm sitting safely in my home. So far, relatively far from any threat of fires. At most, there is a slight smell in the air, a slight darkening in the sky from distant smoke to remind me...if a reminder was needed. I have no right to offer a personal perspective...yet, and hopefully not at all.

But, as this is my blog, I guess of all places, this is where I"m allowed to offer my meandering thoughts. So...I have a friend, a wonderful, kind man who recently retired and is now looking forward to, God willing, many healthy, happy years with his family. And late last night, an hour or two after the Minster of Internal Security announced all fires were under control, my friend was told to evacuate his fire had reached the edge of the village and as with all of the more than 100 fires that were burning all over Israel, the authorities were taking no chances. He came on Facebook to write that he and his wife were waiting to register where they were going so that people could contact them and then they would leave, not knowing what they would find when they return.

I didn't ask him what he took with him but I looked around my house and wondered. What is most precious beyond our lives...I can't even begin to think of that. Of the beautiful wood china cabinet we brought with us from America...the one we bought shortly after our marriage from my husband's uncle's store, of the beautiful grandfather clock I bought because I had fallen in love with a similar clock in the office where I worked and, contrary to what my boss said about shutting off the chimes, I enjoyed them for twenty years before they stopped chiming (have got to try to get that fixed!).

Of the beautiful bedroom set we finally bought after 29 years of marriage...and a whole life we have built. Pictures spread all over the long would it take me to collect all the albums, the box of pictures I haven't yet had a chance to put into albums?

Other friends have evacuated as well. Yaakov's family is north of the fires and his home is safe but I was shaking at the thought of them being so close. Before I could even say anything, Elie called and asked them to come here; then I called...and they are coming and I'm so grateful I don't have to worry about them over the coming Shabbat.

The coming Shabbat...Davidi was supposed to be home yesterday. I waited, planned out a special roast dinner because he missed it the first and only time I ever made it. So it has been defrosted since yesterday and I'm cooking it today...only Davidi didn't come home because the army has canceled the weekend leave for whole units in case they need more manpower. The cancellation so far was for last night. This morning, he is awaiting orders to see if he can leave. It will take him hours to arrive, if he can even get out.

They've given this latest intifada, this intentional burning of people's homes and our land, a name. It is called "pyroterrorism."

I don't care what you call it; I just want it to stop. People say that there is a reason for terrorism, a justification that people use to try to explain. They're poor, they're deprived. They just want...whatever the hell they just want. They're oppressed (not by us, but never mind). All they want is a good life and Israel is stopping, no, we are enabling them that life when they drive on the roads we build, send their children to the schools we fund, use our medical system to treat all that ails them, and so much more. They, and I'm not talking only about the regular Palestinian population, most of whom DO want peace and quiet, but even those who are against our country - they live here and take full advantage of the wonders that are this country, and then they celebrate as people try to destroy it.

A few days ago, I sat next to an Arab woman on the light rail train in Jerusalem and as she skimmed down her Facebook feed, I shamelessly watched. Tons of pictures of clothes (no idea why since her feed was in Arabic) and then, a map of Israel with a huge boot coming to stomp on my country. Again, no clue what the Arabic said...and then she continued to scroll until she got to an item she read more carefully. I recognized the picture. It was one of several similar ones in the past few months. It was the picture of a dead Arab on the ground, blood on his shirt. He had attempted to stab soldiers at a check point and was shot. And I will admit, having seen the image of the boot coming down on my land, my first thought was "karma."

Somehow, I guess we have grown accustomed to the attempts to stab us, ram us, explode next to us. shoot and axe us. Well, not accustomed to it, but less shocked by it. And so, the deepest personal perspective I can offer is simply this.

There are some unmovable foundations to all that is Israel.

Our soldiers - we may disagree on so much, but when it comes to our soldiers, we unite without hesitation. Yesterday morning, a young soldier was killed in a training accident and our nation mourned.

Our faith - we have all levels of observance in this land, really. But when we see a firefighter come out of an endangered synagogue holding a Torah, we do not hesitate in our gratitude.

Jerusalem - don't mess with our capital. If you want to understand Israelis, understand that Jerusalem is our heart, a holy and divine gift and that isn't going to change. It's been a constant for 3,000 years; the place Jews have turned to during more than 2,000 years of exile and the place we turn to three times a day, each day, every day now that we are home.

Our land - whatever our borders are, were, or will be, this is our land. They have attacked our soldiers, our faith, Jerusalem and our land in the past but I can't remember a time when they set so many fires, so maliciously, so dangerously.

The anger at what they have destroyed will come. For now, there is pain. Pain when we look at the burned forests that took so long to grow, agony when we look at the homes destroyed.

I want this to stop. I have written this before and I will write it again. I have hated people and ideas. I have felt that things were unfair and needed to be changed. I have never stabbed anyone, never even lifted a weapon to threaten. I have never started a fire meant to destroy the homes and lives of others or endanger their lives.

Terrorism, and this is terrorism - the intentional destruction of homes and lives and land - this terrorism cannot be justified and those who celebrate it have no right to live here, to use our roads and hospitals or even breathe the smoke-filled air of this land I love.

They are attacking the very roots of who we are as a people. There is nothing more basic here than the land.

Please God, bring rain. It is You who control all, not the weathermen. Please God, if they won't stop, please help us to stop the fires (and please let Davidi come home for Shabbat).

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