Except that this is not a poster for a movie. Here he represents the Israel Defense Force. He's a poster boy for the IDF.
You know this isn't a political blog. It's not even a religious blog. I like to think of it as a way to communicate with people, a method for you and for me, a way to help us think things through. Just a blog.
It isn't really a Jewish blog because the Israel Forum, an organization that hosts Jewish and Israeli blogs, rejected me years ago when I started blogging.
I thought, Hey, I'm Jewish! I should be streaming from the Israel Forum. That's where all the cool Jewish bloggers stream from!
But they wouldn't take me.
So all I could do was add a little subtext to my Technorati profile:
MFT's, or marital/family therapists don't talk so much as direct traffic in therapy. We make sure nobody gets hurt. Many of us do a lot of scribbling, which is hard to read, and some of us blog, if discretely. Did I mention the Jewish part?So here's the Jewish part.
The last time I wrote anything remotely political (not counting my non-partisan posts about the inaugural) I was in Israel and had witnessed, first hand what it's like to be in a place under enemy fire, enemy fire originating a few scant miles away.
It's so close, this war, neighbor against neighbor. It's as if Chicago (Israel) is getting pounded regularly by rockets from gangs in Morton Grove (a bordering suburb, as close as Gaza is to Israel). And this has been going on for a couple of years, and all the mayor of Chicago can do is politely ask
"Would you mind terribly much not lobbing missiles into Millennium Park, please? Somebody could get hurt!?"In February and March, 2008, I wrote a couple of posts about Israel and Gaza, terrorism and aggression.
The posts focus on the differences between passivity, assertiveness, and aggression. Therapists like me recommend assertiveness over aggression, but sometimes you have to speak the language of the person with whom you are communicating, kick it up a bit, show a little muscle, and you have to protect yourself, you people.
The post I wrote in March followed killings in schools in America. I suggested Americans use metal detectors and security guards at the entryways to public buildings, like they do in Israel.
Those posts aren't bad introductions to this latest war you've been hearing about in Gaza, the one the world believes the Israelis started and finished efficiently, but without cause. "It was insanity," I heard one Arab talking head proclaim on National Public Radio.
So was it? If you know me, I don't take words like "insanity" lightly.
Two of my nephews fought in this initiative (see, I'm using the softer word) and both came back in one piece.* The war was the first thing that most Israelis have agreed upon in a long, long time (get two Jews in a room, you have three opinions). This war had to happen. Despite what you might have heard on NPR, it was a well-planned, well-conceived, tactically executed war waiting to happen.
I'll admit that when it started, when my sister-in-law told me that her boys were called up for active duty, I worried. I didn't worry about them so much as I worried about every one of those young soldiers called into Gaza for duty. In Israel children are called to the army as teenagers. In Gaza they're playing with guns at four years old. Killing Jews is mother's milk.
So neurotic worrier that I am, I worried about all of the innocents, and all of the guilty, too, who would be killed. War is hell. There is no good war. Who has the right to kill?
And of course, I worried that the Israeli's live under the nuclear threat of Iran, a nation that funnels arms to Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Israel is a country bordered by, within walking distance of, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. Being a worrier, I worried that the Arab world would use Israeli aggression, for face it, that is what it is, in Gaza as an excuse to decimate Israel, multiply that rocket fire to the south by Hamas, destroy the land and the people who made it the Land of Milk and Honey what it is today, fertile, civilized, beautiful. Jewish. It was not this way when Jews were in exile.
What was called Palestine was not fertile, civilized, beautiful. It was rocks and sand.
I worried they, our Arab neighbors, would return the Land of Israel to its pre-Jewish state, back to rocks and sand we go. This is the catastrophic thinker in me.
But do you know what happened? Nobody stepped in. None of the Arab nations joined Hamas against Israel. None of them joined in the fray. And do you want to know why?
This is my humble opinion, but I'm sure others have expressed it, as well.
The presidents and the prime ministers of all of the civilized countries in this hotbed, the Middle East, have been watching, observing as Hamas lobbed missiles into the south of Israel without consequence these last few years. This has been going on since Israeli's abandoned their homes and handed over this stretch of beach front property, this "land for peace" to the Palestinians.
Arab neighbors have watched these past few years and probably laughed, perhaps even scratched their heads, wondering, "What's wrong with the Jews? What kind of wimps are they!? Why are they taking it?"
Everyone knows that a nation has a right to self-defense, that as the only Jewish country in the world, Israel is alone when it comes to defending herself from enemy missile attacks. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that if a terrorist organization is lobbing missiles at your homeland, your army will probably have to take that group out at some point or another.
And that's what the Israeli's finally chose to do. They went after the terrorists within the infrastructure. And innocent people were killed in the process.
If Canadians harbored terrorists in churches, orphanages, and schools, thugs who lobbed missiles into Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Michigan, and talking, pleading, and negotiating didn't stop them, what would President Bush have done? What would President Obama do?
So blogging as a therapist I have to say that this war is a case of one country speaking the language of the other country. One aggressor to another. Sometimes rooting out terrorism is the only way to respond to terrorism.
As a woman who still wants to claim Israel as my country (although the flag flying in my window clearly shows stars and stripes), who believes that I should be living there, eventually will live there, who feels that all of the sons of Israel are my sons, it is incumbent upon me to thank them, all of the young men and women who served, who put themselves into danger, who manned tanks and fired guns to put an end to a conflict. We pray it is the end. At least for now.
You know, you can't sit around and wait for your Higher Power to do the work for you sometimes. It would be nice, it really would, if He or She would simply step up to the plate and make peace between nations. Ain't gonna' study war no more. But there is that expression, and perhaps it holds true as therapeutic dogma as much as it does in the political theater,
G-d helps those who help themselves.If not now, when? Should a country wait until an enemy becomes even more powerful? Has even better, longer reaching weapons? Perhaps nuclear weapons?
Hopefully that's all for another eleven months, on this topic.
By the way, for much more about the war, a Jewish/Israeli point of view, read Ima on the Bimah, a Heveil Hevalim production
and for more on Post Traumatic Stress and the war that doesn't exist, read Shiloh Musings
Here's some of the text from a mother in Israel welcoming her son home. Ilene is a copywriter of newsletters, websites, brochures, project kits.
My Son Came Home
My son came home from Gaza just a few minutes ago. He came home as we had sent him
off, only more tired, worn and dirty. Thank you Hashem for bringing him home. To his
wife, his brothers and sisters and his loving brood of nieces and nephews. All of us have been waiting patiently these past three weeks to hold him in our arms.
. . .
I helped him toss his heavy bags into the trunk of the car. The heaviest among them being the one weighted down with foodstuffs that Israel's citizens sent to our soldiers. Tens of thousands of kilograms of food poured into the bases in the south. Cartons upon cartons of instant soups, nuts, pretzels, cookies and nosh of every kind. All sent by individuals, families, schools and businesses from throughout the country.
I pulled in front of his apartment, a few kilometers from my home, and as we descended the steps I heard him speak gently and lovingly with his wife at work, telling her how anxious he was to see her. He turned on the boiler and laughingly told me "I'm not getting out of this shower for the next hour."
The bags fell to the floor and he leaned against the kitchen counter to untie his boots swiftly flinging them aside and letting his bare feet rest on the tile floor. He was exhausted and I hesitated to start with the barrage of questions that had been streaming through my head every day, every hour for these past few weeks.
. . ."Ima" he said, "I'm tired now, but I have to tell you how extraordinary this nation is. The children who wrote to us, the people who sent their good wishes with their packages of food, the businesses that sent truckloads of goods. The soldiers I served with, each one caring deeply about the other one. Zahal who made sure that we were well trained and well equipped for our mission. But mostly. Mostly.
This was a war that was guided by the Hand of G'd. Everyday we felt His presence --
whether deciding to enter a building by smashing down the back wall rather than entering through the front door, only to discover that the front door had been booby trapped, or searching rooms in a house and uncovering a tunnel under a bed we had lifted where tens of Hamas terrorists were hiding in the hopes of kidnapping one of us, or dozens more stories."
I looked at this child's face and saw the extraordinary young man he had become. Filled with faith. Feeling a passion for those values that have held this nation together for thousands of years. And, his very presence. His very modesty. His deep felt pride at being part of this nation. All of this wrapped around my heart and left me humbled.
Humbled and grateful.
"And I will lift up my eyes unto the mountains, from where my strength will come."