Summing it up…for now – “War” of 2012

I wanted to look back four years to see how I summed up the last Gaza War and found this post that I apparently never posted. No idea why – though I would guess somehow other posts took pieces.

It was written, apparently, a few days before Elie came home – during those nebulous days when there was a ceasefire, but the army was keeping artillery ready in case it failed. We didn’t know when Elie would be released; if he would make it home in time for his youngest brother’s bar mitzvah. We were counting the days – watching the clock and feeling, often, like we were going to lose the race and not have Elie with us.

Summing it Up for Now – 2009

The closer we get to the end of this, the less I am able to function – pathetic as that sounds.

I’m going to try to drive down and get Elie on Wednesday so that he can attend our family celebration on Thursday at the Western Wall. Once he gets with the whole family, I don’t want to monopolize his time and yet I want a chance to spend time with him and just talk and listen to him. Driving down and spending the trip back with him will give me that time and I’m selfish enough to take it. 

The timing of this “cease-fire” (for as long as it will last), is convenient for my family and for those living in the south. They needed this time,even if it is because Israel very much gave into the pressure of the Obama inauguration to pull its troops back. This was a firm deadline for the current government. We are hearing that most of the deaths of Israeli soldiers can be blamed on friendly fire from our own troops…perhaps in a rush to deliver results in time to get pulled out. That may or may not be accurate – I’m too tired to argue about it and I won’t. 

We are well aware, once again, of the attitude of many people and nations – Mauritania, Bolivia, Venezuela and Qatar cut relations with Israel. There were attacks against Jews and synagogues in England, Canada, France (several dozen), Arab countries, Russia and the US. Even dead Jews were attacked, with cemeteries in many countries desecrated. 

Did we accomplish anything? Yes, we actually did. Not enough, though the Israeli government would now argue otherwise. We withstood thousands of rockets and missiles (10,000 since they started firing at us in 2001; hundreds or more in the last three weeks). But we hit their infrastructure and training bases very hard. We took out hundreds of gunmen/terrorists who were firing rockets at us and/or part of the Hamas military wing. We took out at least three of their key leaders. 

Thousands suffered on both sides – though no one can doubt that physically, the Palestinians suffered more. There is a lesson to be learned here – you are responsible for the government you elect. Palestinians chose Hamas because they were sick of Arafat’s corruption. They overlooked the bloodthirsty hatred of Hamas, which was directed at Israel. They overlooked it all because they wanted a change. 

Change…isn’t always a good thing. 

Tomorrow, change comes to America in the form of Barack Obama. I hope and pray he delivers the hope and improvements those who supported him expect. Today, Israel is pulling out of Gaza – I hope we did enough to bring hope and improvement to Israelis who have lived under the threat of daily rocket attacks for years. 

I can’t begin to explain what it is like to have a son in a war zone. To know that someone is shooting rockets and mortars and missiles in his general direction and but for the grace of God and luck, the rocket hits elsewhere. To know that he is firing missiles at targets, and each has the potential to be off by just a few meters…but enough to kill innocent people forced to act as human shields by their own government. To know that whatever happens and wherever his missiles fly, he will have to live with the results. 

He will live with this because he was given no choice. Not because the army demanded it of him; but because his country did. I don’t know if I wrote this, but I went down to see him last week, stopping in Ashkelon for a few minutes to buy him a battery recharger for his phone. As I approached the mall there, there was a Code Red siren. It was surreal.  

We went into bomb shelters and the guard closed the door and mere seconds later said, “that’s it” and we went back out. I didn’t hear the boom of the rocket that had crashed into someone’s home a few kilometers away. No one was hurt because they had gone into the bomb shelter, but the top two floors of the house (and their neighbor’s house) were badly damaged. I saw people sitting in front of the bomb shelter with bags and kids playing – that’s how they have lived for these last few weeks and even in the last few years. 

Within running distance of a bomb shelter – always ready. 

There was a mistake in Jerusalem and a siren went off. My youngest daughter’s school didn’t know that it was a mistake – they assumed it was, but you don’t play games with children’s lives and so they moved several hundred children into bomb shelters in seconds…leaving little girls terrified and crying and traumatized for days – and that without the boom that follows the rockets in Ashkelon and Sderot and elsewhere. 

So – Elie’s coming home. I’ll know soon whether this experience changed him. If, like his little sister, he needs to talk about what he experienced. For now, it’s just enough to know that within 48 hours, my stomach will settle for the first time in weeks and maybe I’ll get a real night’s sleep – at least one. On Thursday, he goes back.

If I were to copy below how much of this 2009 post is relevant to 2012, I would be copying nearly all of it. Four years ago, we knew that Israel had done all that it was allowed to do – now, we don’t even know that. Four years ago, we knew we’d be going back…and we know this now as well. All I can add is what I wrote before:  I hope we did enough to bring hope and improvement to Israelis who have lived under the threat of daily rocket attacks for years – though this time, I know that whatever relief we brought will be temporary.

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