Friday, August 1, 2014

My First Real War

I'm not sleeping. I'm not really awake.  It seems my mind is forever in Israel. I can't watch the news, but I can't stop either. I hear everyone talk about how worried they are. I am too. We all are. But it's not really the worry over here that's effecting us. It's the feeling of absolute helplessness. I desperately want to be in Israel right now, but to what real effect? Support? Yes. Could I volunteer to fill a job left by a reservist who's been called up? Yes. But really I want to be there because there I feel I have a role, while here I just feel helpless.

Why do I, and others feel this way? I've come to believe that for me, and many in my generation, it's our first real war. If you look up "wars in Israel, you will see that it's clearly not my first war. Here's the list:

1948- War of Independence
1956- Suez
1967- Six-Day War
1967-70- The War of Attrition
1973- The Yom Kippur War
1971-1982- Operation Litani in Southern Lebanon
1982- Lebanon War (which dragged on as the Southern Lebanon Conflict until 2000)
1987-1993- The First Intifada
2000-2005- Second Intifada
2006- second Lebanon War
2008- Operation Cast Lead
2012- Operation Pillar of Defense
2014- Protective Edge

This doesn't even include the Gulf Wars.

In every decade we have to fight. My cousin was in Gaza in 2012? So how is this my first real war?

I grew up in the 70's and 80's. It was a great time. The world saw Israel as the underdog. Everybody loves an underdog. The US was still suffering from the effects of Vietnam, and Israel's army was viewed as strong and moral. Although there was constant struggle, a children, as teens, and as young adults, we were always sure Israel would prevail. We were too young to appreciate the wars on Israel's soil. We  didn't fully appreciate the sacrifices our people made. We saw only the strength and the pride. For a world still recovering from the horrors of the Holocaust, to finally realize the promise made by the world, in the League of Nations, with the 1922 mandate to Britain to establish a homeland for the Jews in Palestine, was a miracle. We wanted to finally appear strong and courageous. It worked. It worked too well.

This is the first time I am truly fearful.

I am fearful for my family in the IDF, for the children of my friends. I am fearful for colleagues and students of mine serving our country. I stand proud of each one of them, but as a parent my heart aches for what may happen.

I am fearful for the consequences. The consequences of remaining in towns, kibbutzim, and moshavim where tunnels have been found, but just as fearful, if not more so of the consequences of leaving these places.

For the first time I am fearful for the future of Israel. The what-ifs overwhelm me. And it's that overwhelming feeling that makes this my first real war. I know in my heart that Israel WILL survive. I KNOW that tomorrow and the day after, and the year after that, and the decade after that Israel WILL be there, but my mind can't see it. My mind sees the pain, the fear, and the worry. My heart sings with songs of peace and love. Ani ma'amim b'emunah shelaimah beviat hamashiach. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the messiah. Maybe it's folly. Maybe it's the influence of folk music, of Star Trek and science fiction, but I believe with all my heart that we can, and we will reach a messianic age. We will be able to beat our swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. Nevertheless, right now, and for the first time in my life, my mind can't stop. It can't move past the worry and the helplessness, it can't turn off the feeling of hate being thrown at us, and so, for the first time this is really my war.

May God and Shabbat bless us and our land with peace and all it's inhabitants with lasting joy. Let this truly be a Shabbat shalom.