Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's my first war and I'll cry if I want to

Ever since this conflict started, 11 days ago, people (from the states, mostly) have been calling to ask how I'm doing, what I think. Friends call to ask my opinion whether they should come on a planned vacation or send their children. My mother called me after the stabbing in Modi'in Ilit, always confusing that city with my own. It's funny to be on the other side. It's funny for people to now worry about me and my family rather than the other way around. It's strange to think, that in the past I always felt on the periphery of the history of our people, and now I am here. Not quite ground zero, but I wouldn't call it the periphery either.

Since this war started 11 days ago my mind has been a jumble of thoughts and a swirl of emotion. I feel so many things.

Do I feel afraid? Most of the time I don't. I got a bit nervous when I bumped into a friend at the supermarket who was shopping for her "mamad" (safe room). I freaked out when Jameel reported that Hamas does have rockets with a range of 60 kilometers, putting Modi'in in striking distance. Perhaps my mamad does need to be stocked. But overall, day-to-day, no, I don't feel afraid.

I do feel conflicted about the kids. So far they are taking in all of this with aplomb. Not much has changed in their day-to-day routine, but they are aware of the war. Will there be a point when I will fear for their lives? How will I react if such a time comes? How much am I willing to risk? I don't know the answer to that question, and I pray I never have to find out.

I am angry. I am angry that our government waited so long to respond to the rocket attacks that Hamas was able to smuggle in so many weapons and to build so many tunnels to hide in. That they had time to prepare Gaza City as one big booby-trap for our soldiers. I am angry that they hide in their hospitals, in their mosques, in their schools and in their people's homes, forcing my army to make difficult choices. I am angry that they use their children as shields. I am angry that Roseanne Barr, whose show I used to watch, called Israel a nazi-state and compared the conflict to the US army putting down Los Angeles gangs. Except that those gangs, whatever their crimes, have not been launching rockets and missiles at US cities for the past eight years.

I am frustrated that the world calls us "aggressors" "occupiers" "nazis" and "an apartheid state". We accepted the 1947 partition plan, a two-state solution. We accepted the Oslo Accords. We handed over Gaza on a silver platter. We showed "restraint" as our southern cities have been blasted over and over again. For what? For murderous neighbors who have no intentions of "co-existence". They don't want a two-state solution, no matter how many concessions Israel is willing to make for peace. Hamas (and their West Bank cousins, I might add) have made it clear: they want the total destruction of Israel. Why doesn't the world see all of this?

I feel helpless and guilty. There are almost a million people in close rocket range. Some of these people have left their homes for 'safer' places; most have not and are trying to lead somewhat normal lives in the face of huge obstacles. Their kids are not in school; many of the adults continue to work. They run to their shelters countless times a day. What kind of life is that? How do you get over the trauma?

I feel tired. I awaken in the deep, deep night. I look at Isaac, who is blessed with the ability to sleep through anything and then I begin to wonder, and to wander. I peek in on my kids, and listen to their breathing. I wander the hallway and tell myself to stay away from the computer. I find the dog and bring him to bed to snuggle with. And I wait for sleep to return and my mind drifts to brown boots, green uniforms and boys and girls and tanks and bombs and M-16s and F-14s and Barak and Olmert and Livni and red berets and Golani trees. And I pray in the deep, deep night for Hashem to protect them and to give their mothers and fathers strength that I don't think I could ever have. And then my mind strays to my own friends and their sons, some serving now, some about to serve, some to serve in two or four or seven years.

And in the deep night, I sometimes feel hopeless: it will never end, I think. There will always be tanks and young men and women and sacrifices and horror and tears.

And I feel sad. For Dvir, and Yoni and Dagan and Nitai and Yusef and Alexander, and the many others I fear will join this list. For their families who will commemorate Yom HaZicaron (Memorial Day) every single day for the rest of their lives. For children without fathers and children never born, for widows and for grief and for the why does it have to be this way, and for how long will it have to be this way.

And finally, I feel proud. Proud of an army made up of young men and women who know they have to defend their people and their land and who are ready and able and willing to do it. Proud of a government finally, finally allowing our army to do their job. Proud of an army that sends warning pamphlets to its enemies to warn civilians of impending attacks. Proud of an army capable of compassion. Proud of reservists called up and responding to the call, in spite of the way the last war was fought. Proud of a nation that 60 years ago was in tatters and swore, "Never again". Proud that all of you have a place, an anchor, a home to return to when you choose to do so. Proud to be a Jewish nation in a Jewish land.

Proud to be here.


Israeli soldiers killed in action today:

Dagan Vartman
Yehonotan Netanel
Nitai Stern
Yusef Mu'uadi
Alexander Mashevitsky

May their families be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion.


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Round-up:

Haveil Havalim is up at Ima Bima.

Jack is doing an amazing round-up series of various bloggers posting about the war. He also has media links.

Israellycool is liveblogging the war.

And of couse, you gotta go to the Muqata for the latest.

Don't these guys work?

13 comments:

rutimizrachi said...

Thank you, Baila. Another powerful and beautiful post. My attitude stays cheerful, baruch Hashem, because I firmly believe that our simcha is a more powerful weapon than is our sorrow... but I weep with you over the precious lives that we have lost. May Hashem avenge their bloods. (Even "friendly fire" wouldn't happen, if the bad guys would just leave us alone.)

Leora said...

May the families that have lost loved ones know comfort.

Anonymous said...

thanks for a great blog Baila, i asked the boys to read it as well.

nw

Arthur said...

How eloquent

SuperRaizy said...

This post reminds me of Ron's statement in Harry Potter: "A person can't feel all that at once, they'd explode."
Truthfully, though, I think we can all relate to your feelings, every one of them.

ilanadavita said...

Thank you Baila for sharing your perspective with us.

Robin said...

A very powerful post Baila.

It breaks my heart that my second-grader knows so much about death and hatred and war.

Mrs. S. said...

What a beautiful post! I think it really sums up what we all are feeling.

בתפילה לשלום חיילינו ואחינו בדרום

Rivster said...

Such a powerful post -- thank you for being so candid.

And holy smokes -- Roseanne Barr has completely gone off the deep end. What vile lies she tells!

RaggedyMom said...

Beautifully put - thank you

JewWishes said...

Thank you for this lovely and poignant post, compelling in many respects.

muse said...

Beautiful post. Send it to Arutz 7 opinion page.

Our first war was Yom Kippur.

Lady-Light said...

I know it's a little late, but what a beautiful, beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes.
I currently have a daughter in combat in the IDF (my two sons are not active duty any more)and I know what you are talking about.
May Hashem guard and safely keep all the chayalim and Am Yisrael, and may GOOD prevail over evil, AMEN.