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Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Letter to My Former Home

[A guest post by Zahava]

I have the best friends and former colleagues a girl could ask for. Over the past several weeks, as the situation here in Israel has intensified, I have been overwhelmed by the support shown to me by friends and former colleagues from the pre-Aliyah chapter of my life. This support is so meaningful and so appreciated – thank you to those of you who have reached out – your love and concern fortifies us.

Often these notes of support come with questions about what is really happening over here. Nearly everyone has expressed frustration with what is accessible to them via mainstream media – the perception is that that the facts have been distorted to support various political agendas. As such, a number of friends have asked me to elaborate on ‘the reality on the ground’ from my perspective.

This is a difficult endeavor – especially given that when our nation’s security situation is tense, my own mood can be easily swayed by momentary events. In developing responses, I try to incorporate my understanding of what is happening based on composite information from reliable local media outlets as well as weaving in aspects of my own personal experience.

I have written several such responses over the past few weeks. The following, at the moment, best represents my thoughts.

Thank you so very much for reaching out to me — it is very nice to receive support from friends in the States.

You are correct — things are unpleasant — but not nearly as bad as currently portrayed  in the press.

It has been a crazy month or so — and it is certainly no fun scrambling for the bomb shelters when the air raid sirens go off.

Western media seems to have missed the more nuanced aspects of life here — and even some of the not-so-nuanced things.

I think the most difficult aspect of understanding the current situation is the foreign media’s attempt to create a link between the current operation in Gaza and the kidnappings of the 3 Jewish Israeli boys. 

There is no connection.

Yes, the kidnappers are part of the Hamas terror structure. But bringing those perpetrators to justice is a separate matter from the operation in Gaza. Also separate, is the investigation against the Arab Israeli teen who was murdered -- an investigation which to date has yielded more substantial results than the former. The suspects in the murder of the Arab teen have been apprehended, and the entire country has vehemently denounced this horrific act. When convicted, these offenders will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We will name no streets after these despicable people. We will not glorify them.  They are, simply put, no heroes of ours.

The current operation in Gaza is nothing more than the most recent attempt to stop rockets from being launched at our civilian population. Since the end of the last operation in 2012 there has been a slow but steady escalation against our southern cities which goes largely unnoticed by anyone outside of Israel — until we have the temerity to try and stop them. THEN, the global community has lots to say.

Since the current operation against the rockets was initiated, of course, Hamas and other terror organizations have ramped up their efforts and have been indiscriminately firing in all directions, as far as their arsenal will allow them.

On the Israeli side, we are fortunate that our government values our lives. Due to a major change in building codes during the 90s all homes built after 1995 have their own reinforced safe-room. In addition there are public bomb shelters everywhere. In the southern cities, public shelters have been augmented with a scattering of large-bore concrete pipes to open areas in which people can take cover. And, thank G-d for good technological ingenuity, someone developed an app which sounds an alarm each time there is a launch. Many municipalities have also instituted an SMS service for their residents advising appropriate action when an air raid siren is sounded in the area. These are the key reasons why our casualties are far more limited than on the other side. 

The situation is hardest on school-aged kids. Yonah is no exception -- it has been incredibly traumatic for him. Dealing with his anxiety has become very difficult. During the search and rescue efforts, he was terrified of being taken — didn't want to sleep in his room. When the rockets started falling in our region, his anxiety only intensified (can't really blame him). Thankfully, the schools have their guidance counselor staff on-hand this summer in anticipation of exactly this type of difficulty — we are doing our best to help him diffuse his anxiety, but it is devastating to watch him suffer.

Something positive, which I suspect is going largely unreported in the western media, are the voices which have emerged from some segments of the Arab Israeli community. A few brave and outspoken people have been interviewed in Israeli media. They have spoken out in support of the 3 boys' families; in support of the State; against the rioting in response to the Arab teen's murder; and against the rockets from Gaza. Some have proudly stated that their children serve in the army and that they see themselves as Israeli Arabs – they do not support, nor do they want to be governed by a Palestinian government. 

Sadly, there have been instances of anti-Arab riots and activity. However, there has been broad and unified condemnation for such behavior across every segment of Israeli society — politically, religiously, and demographically – especially from within Judea and Sameria. We will not accept these acts and attitudes.

As a result of all of this, there have been several gatherings by Arab and Jewish groups — both to protest the kidnappings and murders and to attempt to bolster the fragile relationships that exists between them.

During the search and rescue efforts, there was a multicultural prayer gathering at the bus stop where the boys were taken – it was comprised of a small group of local rabbis, imams and lay leaders.

Earlier this week, there was a joint break fast for Ramadan and our fast of the 17th of Tammuz (date which begins our three-week period of mourning for the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem) meters away from the abduction spot. These are just 2 such events — there have others.

In conclusion, thanks again for reaching out to me — and for having the wisdom to understand that things are not always as they appear. We are going about our daily lives as best we can. As a friend recently pointed out — we are laughing a little harder at jokes that aren't really that funny; we are eating a little more ice-cream than is good for our waistlines; we are drinking a glass of wine with week-day dinners, not just on the weekends; and we are indulging our kids more than usual — but we make the best of an awful situation because this is our home and we can't conceive of living anywhere else.

All the best,

Zahava

 

Posted by David Bogner on July 20, 2014 | Permalink

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Zahava, this is EXCELLENT! Sharing with all my family and friends. maybe you should take over more often :)
Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: SaraK | Jul 21, 2014 10:41:27 AM

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