In Appreciation – Israel (and a bit on BBC)

I’m in a holding pattern with this blog. Not much to write about in terms of being a soldier’s mother because thankfully, my sons are home – two with their wives; another happily and unhappily studying away in high school. Yaakov is coming home this summer to begin further studies; he brings with him his wife and two daughters. Chaim is blooming in university, finding facets of himself, polishing his abilities and finding the voice that is uniquely his.

My daughters are doing well – my oldest is finishing university – she is the kind of mother I always wanted to be. Aliza is grace. Hard to explain it with another word so I’ll leave it at that. They’ve grown to be people – something that a mother has to learn to accept. They are individuals – all of them, with their own directions and lives.

I’m going through a rough time personally – not things I really want to write about, but things that weigh on my mind. The BBC show aired and it was…okay. That’s a ridiculous word but an excellent one. I never thought it would be pro-Israel – but the fact that it wasn’t anti-Israel pleases me greatly. They were fair. Over and over, that word comes to mind.

What I didn’t like about the show – was the ridiculous things that came from the people they interviewed. We are, I remind myself often, our own worst enemies. Avrum Burg is nothing. He is a man living on the past glory of an amazing father. His commentary was, quite simply, stupid.

He blames Israelis for the lack of peace – something his Arab brothers will readily agree. We are responsible, says this ridiculous has-been, because we can’t get over the Holocaust and put our determination to stand against any future genocide into all that happens. Well, yeah, okay. Wouldn’t you?

If you’d been hounded and hunted, and then are surrounded by a few hundred million people calling for your extinction – wouldn’t you remember what was done once before and do all you can to ensure it doesn’t happen again? What am I missing here? The answer, of course, is the one who is missing something is Avrum Burg, but we all knew that here in Israel. It was a silly choice to interview him, but I can’t blame BBC. Burg is the one guilty of opening his mouth.

Then there was David Landau, a journalist/editor from Haaretz. Well, duh – you choose the most left-wing paper in Israel, you’re going to get left wing drivel. Landau didn’t disappoint. He too loves to beat his chest in shame for all that is, all that we have built. Again, the guilt lies with Landau for the nonsense he spoke, not with BBC.

My greatest concern was having my words twisted – they weren’t. The fact that BBC didn’t have to twist the words of Landau and Burg to beat on Israel means the fault lies with them.

The other part of the show that I didn’t like – again, lies with the speaker more than BBC. There was a whole section on the Ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredi) in Israel and the “great divide.” Overall, unlike many, I’m not really overly worried about this. Those among the Haredi community who are committed to living in Israel will stay – even if it means their sons serving to protect this country; those who are not committed will send their sons abroad – and that too is fine with me.

If you aren’t committed enough to fight and defend the country in which you live, my personal feeling is that you should leave. And finally, a last comment on BBC’s show – there was a wonderful clip, a few minutes into the show, in which John Ware spoke about a band in Tel Aviv playing at a pub. The band members are all current/former IDF pilots. I loved it.

And so, this brings me to the point of this post – I live in a land that I love. People have told me that came through in the show and if it did, I am grateful. I would take that defending thing one step further – if you don’t live in a land you love, find one that you do. To love your country is not a thing of shame but of honor.

Again and again, Israel stands for what is right. Yes, Avrum, we will prevent the next Holocaust because we remember, because we honor, because we are on guard and wary. That bothers you? Really, truly – tough. And while we are doing all that defending and protecting and guarding and whatever – you know what we are doing here?

We are living – in a land so beautiful it can bring tears to your eyes and steal your breath away. The majesty, the dignity, the absolute holiness of this land comes through as you drive, as you walk, as you sit on your balcony and stare out at the mountains to the east, south, west or north. From my backyard, I can see Jerusalem and the mountains nearby. From my front porch, I can see the Judean Desert and the low hills that lead down to the Dead Sea.

Far in the distance are the first mountains of Jordan and on a clear day, I can see two tall towers – Amman, the capital of Jordan. Isn’t that something? How many people can see the capitals of two countries from their home?

I do believe that some day – perhaps and most likely far into the future, there will be peace. It won’t come soon; it won’t come easy. Probably not in my life time, perhaps not even during the lives of my children. I can hope that my grandchildren will live here in peace, but then again, I hope and pray that even my children have that opportunity.

For now, I’m in this flat of the roller coaster that is life. I know Davidi is on the track towards the army but that seems to distant right now. Much sooner, Elie will be called to the Reserves. Shmulik has been studying in yeshiva, the last leg of the Hesder program that combines army service with study. He leaves the army officially in a few weeks and then he too can be called for Reserve duty.

I’m not sorry that I did the BBC program – and that is probably also the most I could have hoped for. They didn’t show the Israel I would have chosen to show. Too little time was spent on showing Israeli innovation and the massive hi-tech world that we have here. Too much focused on strife, missing the amazing things we have and do here.

They didn’t show Yad Sarah – an amazing organization that lends out medical equipment (wheel chairs, crutches, nursing pumps, and so much more) merely for the cost of a down payment that will be returned. They didn’t talk about how Israel regularly sends emergency teams around the world, often landing hours and hours before others.

They didn’t show the cornerstones of Israel’s psyche – the places that show the many facets of who we are as a nation…Masada’s towering legacy to a nation determined to be free and independent, Yad Vashem’s dedication to remembering what was done so there will never again be another Holocaust. Israelis kayaking the Jordan, snorkeling near Eilat, floating the Dead Sea, and yes, surfing the Mediterranean (which they did show) – all testimony to our determination to hike and swim and enjoy our land.

They didn’t show how we stop and give beggars coins and sometimes warm soup. They didn’t show how people quickly help young mothers load their baby carriages on the bus and how the bus drivers will wait for the old woman running to get the bus.

But, I never expected BBC to show this picture of the Israel I love. On this cool morning in Israel, as I begin preparing to welcome the Sabbath, as the soup begins boiling and I know the my older children are also preparing for Shabbat, it’s enough to know we are here – again, always, past and future.

I live in a land that I would serve proudly. My sons have served; my sons will serve. The flowers are blooming all over the land. There’s a bird sitting on my neighbor’s roof; in the distance, I hear a car door slam. Our greatest gift to ourselves is to live here in this land. The Israeli flags still fly from my house and those of my neighbors. We need to take them down or the harsh Mediterranean sun will ruin them – and yet, they remain. No one seems to want to be the first to take it down.

Shabbat shalom, Israel – may you forever grace this world and may we always have the honor of knowing you are ours.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.