Monday, November 19, 2012

Israel's army - Our family, our friends, our people.

Dr. Haim Shine..
Israel Hayom..
19 November '12..

On the Yom Kippur when that cursed war broke out, just after Neilah, the closing prayer, I packed a few belongings in an old military backpack. My mother, a Holocaust survivor, was worried and tried to convince me there was no hurry; the recruitment code for my reserve unit hadn't even been broadcast yet on the radio. I headed towards the Geula School in Tel Aviv anyway, where the armored corps gathers for transportation to the Natan base in the south. On my way there, I saw hundreds of uniformed soldiers traveling by foot on dark streets. At that time, reservists didn't yet have cars. Over the next three hours, I moved nine tanks from Beersheba to the Suez Canal. Tank personnel didn't wait for the call; the number of people who came out were greater than the number of tanks that could transport them.

Last Shabbat, my two nephews, both infantry officers, didn't wait for the call either. They packed their elaborate duffel bags and left in their parents' car to head down to the deployment areas on the outskirts of the Gaza Strip. In a massive parking lot, a group of well-trained and organized soldiers gathered, determined to immediately put an end to this threat from the murderous savages who established an arsenal of destruction on Israel's border. Greenhouses in Gush Katif have been turned into missile bunkers since the Gaza disengagement. Synagogues were destroyed and turned into launching facilities. Schools and students were turned into defensive shields.

Kibbutz members from the north came to defend their brethren in the south. Grooms deployed just after the chuppah and pregnant women bid their husbands farewell. During the Kabbalat Shabbat prayers, synagogues added a special verse from the Psalms, "He spoke unto them in the pillar of cloud" (Psalms 99:7) ["pillar of cloud" is the literal translation of Amud Anan, the Hebrew name of the current operation in Gaza]. In the Middle East, there are people who only understand a "pillar of cloud," because no human language is intelligible to them. Others, focussing on the verse "Thou wilt pursue them in anger, and destroy them from under the heavens of the Lord" (Lamentations 3:66), noted that the Hebrew word "aff" (anger) was reminiscent of the "eff" in F-16.

Most nations' fundamental features are evident on a routine day. On such calm days, they manage to make the most of themselves. With one exception, however. There is one nation that, for thousands of years of its history, proves that the difficult moments are those in which its special abilities and qualities are expressed. When the Jewish people's way of life is most disrupted, the shell is removed and at its core, tremendous mental strength, of spirit and brotherhood, are revealed.

The people of Israel are usually divided, quarreling, impatient and sometimes even petty; but they are always suddenly able to put on a cloak of bravery, courage and willingness to sacrifice such that no power on earth can reckon with them. For many civilians, rocket attacks have become a daily routine and they are ready to sit in shelters, allowing the state and the army leadership to end the mission, restoring calm and deterrence.

Most of Israel's wars, since its establishment, did not end decisively. The termination of one war was usually the opening chord of the next war. This time, we are supposed to win the war, both on a practical and a conscious level. Hezbollah and Iran are eagerly waiting to see how this conflict will end, and any blink or stutter will signal to Israel's enemies that we are suffering from chronic shortness of breath.

International pressure has already begun. Permissible war standards for most countries in the world when they are fighting are prohibited to the Jewish state. If we desire to live and want to return to the routine of our lives, it must be based on the right of all Israeli citizens to live in safety. This is not an excessive expectation for a people who for thousands of years carried the heavy burden of suffering and grief on its shoulders. The time has come for us to bear a different load.


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