We write from a country at war.
On Friday we celebrated the second anniversary of our Aliyah amidst a two front war to our North and our South. Rockets rained down on communities throughout the Northern tier of our country and on the small communities and cities that have the unfortunate luck of being situated too close to Gaza where they have been subjected to a continual onslaught of rocket fire for well over a year. Unfortunately, no one in the world cared about these attacks until a young man, Gilad Shilat, was kidnapped and hidden away in Gaza (where we hope he is still alive). This was a move which forced the government to finally send the IDF back into Gaza, just under a year after the same government ministers celebrated the Disengagement.
The rockets continue to fall, but at least the IDF is attempting to wipe them out (a little too late for the residents of the South, but a welcome move nonetheless). The terrorists to our North were so impressed by the Gazan terrorists' deed that they, too, decided to join the game, kidnapping two soldiers (Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser) from sovereign Israeli territory and killing 8 others.
What they didn't expect was that this move would bring the wrath of the Israeli military upon them. What they didn't count on was that the terminally divided people of Israel are still resilient in the face of attack and that this gross misjudgment of the Israeli government, military and people did what no Israeli leader seems capable of doing...bringing the people together as a unified nation.
What we didn't expect was that the world is largely letting us do what must be done to defend our national sovereignty. For an amazing analysis of this situation click here for a brief article written by an aqcuaintance in Efrat who has a very interesting view of the world. His analogy and analysis are crystal clear. Condi Rice, no great lover of Israel, has acknowledged that a cease fire will not solve the problem. Even Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the PA, who never miss an opportunity to find fault with Israel, have publicly criticized Hizballah for this misadventure. The supporters of Arab intransigence against Israel--Hizballah, Hamas, Syria and Iran--is a short list that most would like to avoid. The supporters of some type of compromise between Israel and the Arabs consists of virtually the entire world. Maybe, just maybe, the winds of change are starting to stir, although I expect this is unlikely.
In an ironic twist of fate, Gush Etzion and Efrat are currently hosting hundreds of residents of the North and serving as a place of refuge in the face of the onslaught in the North. Why ironic, you may be asking? Well, at the outset of the Intifada, Gush Etzion had its share of terrorist attacks and was a place where some wouldn't visit. Now, only 3-4 short years later we are suddenly seen as a 'safe place' and are pleased to welcome our brothers and sisters into our homes and our communities, providing them with food, shelter, activities for the children and, most importantly, a break from the stress of living under siege.
We had a remarkable interaction on Friday morning as we ran around doing our typical Friday morning errands around the Yishuv. We saw a friend who made Aliyah a couple of weeks after we did and he said with a trace of a smile, 'Hey, it's our first war!' On the surface this may appear crass, cavalier or insensitive; however, it perfectly captures the spirit of the Israeli people. When faced with adversity, we use a combination of gallows humor, resilience and an amazing ability to go on with our lives to the best of our abilities.
What did we do for our two year anniversary? Thankfully, we weren't huddled in fear or sitting at home riveted to the news...we took our kids, two olim and a sabra, to the zoo where they gleefully spent the afternoon watching the lions and tigers and bears, (Oh my), despite having spent the morning reciting tehillim (Psalms) for the safe return of our heroic soldiers and the quick end to our current hostilities. They understand the situation as best as two little boys can grasp it, but they are also able to move like the rest of their Israeli brethren.
Here's hoping that the end of this war brings peace and quiet to the people of Israel.