- Posted July 21, 2014 by
Eshkol Region, Israel
This iReport is part of an assignment:
An Outsider Couldn't Understand
There is a saying in Hebrew: “Zar Lo Yavin” - which means that an outsider to our culture could not understand. So I will try to explain.
I was born in the States - Da Bronx, to be exact. My upbringing was as American as you can get. I consider myself an American in all respects of the word. In addition to learning piano, dance and other extracurricular activities that American teens do, I was a member of Young Judea - a Zionist youth movement - and after high school, came on a gap year program with them in Israel. I returned to the States from during the height of summer 1973, with all intentions of going to university. However, when the Yom Kippur War broke out a few months later, I realized that coming to live in Israel and help out in the war effort, was more of a personal priority at that time. In December 1973, I made Aliya (came to live in Israel), leaving my family, and American life, behind.
I have lived in Israel ever since - far longer than I lived in the States. I am an Israeli, in all respects of the word, but with a slightly different perspective, having spent my formative years in the States. So I will try to describe what we are experiencing in Israel today, July 21, 2014, after having learned yesterday that 13 of our soldiers were killed the night before, in battle.
When I lived in the States, I did not personally know anyone who had fought in the Vietnam War. The closest I got was a cousin who did reserve duty. But that doesn't count - he was never actually in danger of being sent to the front lines. Of course, many soldiers were wounded and died in the Vietnam War, and each of those soldiers, each of their families, were affected profoundly; their lives as they knew it before their losses, were never to be the same.
Here in Israel, we are such a small country, that the situation is much different. Here, everybody is affected personally, and / or knows somebody who is affected personally by Operation Protective Edge. Today ⅔ of Israel’s population are living within rocket range. This war is absolutely a war of survival. We get no second chances. We therefore send our sons and daughters (yes - there ARE women on combat duty, in harm’s way) to fight for our survival, to disarm the tunnels that threaten those of us who live near the border, and dismantle as much as possible, the rocket launchers that are embedded within the dense residential areas of Gaza’s crowded cities.
We all realize that this has a price. The dearest price in the world. The lives of our loved ones.
Yesterday evening, we learned that 13 soldiers were killed. And our world stopped. The mind starts racing, searching the internet, the TV broadcasts, the radio announcements, waiting in trepidation to hear the names. Because the boys who went in are our sons, our husbands, our fathers, our nephews, our lovers, our grandsons, friends’ sons, our colleagues’ sons, our neighbors’ sons, our colleagues, our former students, our, our our….ours. They are literally OURS.
We listen to the news and hope not to see the names of ours…..only five have been announced so far. We feel relief when we realize that “ours” is not among them...so far...… this time. And then, as always, feel guilty for thinking that way.
An outsider could not understand. Or maybe now, you can.