Thursday, August 10, 2006

Feelings of guilt

This evening, after several attempts, we finally managed to speak with Mrs G's younger brother who is currently serving his compulsory service in a commando unit. He couldn’t really tell us much other than that he’s about 500 meters from the Lebanese border and that after a week and a half of battle rations, he had finally got his hands on a hamburger donated by the local kosher McDonalds today.

Mrs G’s twin brother, who was released from a different commando unit after 3 years of service in March, only to be called back with a Tzav 8 emergency call up, is spending the night in Jenin, where his unit will most probably be putting themselves in harms way, rounding up Hamas operatives.

Meanwhile, Mrs G and I spent this evening at a restaurant on Emek Refaim Street, with my cousins from England where I enjoyed an excellent rare entrecote and a decent Merlot.

Last week, D and A, received call up notices. Monday nights usually see them playing soccer with us in Jerusalem; this week, whilst we were chasing a ball round the field, they were both somewhere in Lebanon.

On Sunday, whilst Mrs G and I wandered around the Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy on the last day of a long awaited holiday, an old acquaintance from my time on Kibbutz, took a few steps aside from his vehicle to light a cigarette. His nicotine addiction saved his life; seconds later a Katyusha landed where he had been sitting, killing 12 of his comrades.

Living in Israel can frequently be a somewhat surreal experience; in the decade since I made Aliyah from England, there really hasn’t ever been a prolonged period of complete quiet but this last month has been the most difficult to deal with for me; whilst a good proportion of our population is hunkering down in their bunkers, tourists in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem could easily be forgiven for thinking that nothing unusual was going on; we may dig deep to send packages to our soldiers and the residents of the North, listen to the news with a greater frequency and our phone bills may record a few more calls to family and friends with an 04 area code than usual, but otherwise anyone to the south of an imaginary line is getting up to go to work, doing brunch and sitting on the beach in the same way as they have always done.

Last time around it was far easier for me – Friday March 29th 2002, the day after the Park Hotel in Netanya was bombed, I was amongst the thousands who received an emergency call up. I was amongst those who went into the Arab West Bank towns, spending most of April in and around Bethlehem. Having an immediate purpose in the time of crisis made life very simple. This time round I’m watching helplessly from the rear, praying hard and tuning in every hour on the hour in the hope that the top item will start with a story of containing the word “Ptzu’im” – wounded, rather than “Harugim” – dead.

My feeling of impotence is only emphasized by the fact that in a week and a half I’ll be leaving to take up my new post as Aliyah Shaliach in the States, leaving behind my responsibility for defending the country; every year since I completed my army service in 1998 I’ve been called up for at least one period of Miluim – Reserve Duty. Every time, I’ve faithfully answered the call yet here I find myself leaving the country at a time where I’m needed the most and feeling incredibly torn in doing so. Make no mistake – I, along with all of the others who have been called up, do not wish to have to serve, but when the need arises I certainly wish to take responsibility and fulfill my duty.

I comfort myself in the knowledge that I’m leaving to fulfill a mission of national importance. As an Aliyah Shaliach, I shall be promoting and assisting people in making Aliyah; I was recently privileged to represent the Jewish Agency for Israel on a flight arranged by Nefesh B’Nefesh which brought 230 North American Olim to Israel in the middle of the current conflict and am convinced that the resolution of these and the thousands of other Olim who are making the move this summer in spite of the fighting sends a very clear message to our enemies.

We have been targeted simply for being Jews for Millennia; the subject of pogroms, blood libels, expulsions and the Holocaust. Now, living in an era where we have our own State, we are able to defend ourselves against those who would destroy us.

Our complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last summer has not produced the results that we had hoped for but rather those that the doom-sayers warned of, with Shderot and Ashkelon finding themselves the targets of Hamas terrorists armed with Kassam rockets.

The abrogation of responsibility on behalf of the Lebanese Government in letting a terrorist regime, armed by Iran and Syria take over the South of their country, has left Israel with no option but to defend her civilians in the North. It is very clear where the blame lies despite the attempts of a biased media to hold Israel responsible. The IDF is once again able to hold its head up high as an army for whom the protection of the innocent is a supreme value.

As a Shaliach I have a mission to strengthen Israel, whether through sending people on programs or helping them prepare for Aliyah, standing up and speaking our on the campuses and helping others to do likewise, it is clear to me that I will be doing my duty – but in a different arena and without a uniform. Living in Israel can be hard but I have the feeling that my period of Shlichut, watching from the outside will be harder still – I hope that I will be able to rise to the call of my duty.



Ushyman said...

I was hoping for a comment on Maccabi Haifa's plucky performance against a distinctly mediocre Liverpool side. A narrow escape, eh?

It is hard on Haifa that they can't play their return game in Israel - I would fancy their chances in those circumstances.

tafka PP said...


- Think that just about sums it up.

Avram said...

good luck gilly ... make sure you send us some quality Yanks though! :)

Evan said...

I'm sure you've heard this before, but know that your mission for Aliyah is just as important, albeit less risky, than a military mission.

Cori/Shoshana said...

my shaliach once told me that being a shaliach is rewarding for her personally for many reasons, but mostly because she knows that with each oleh that she assists, she'll be coming back to a country that is that much closer to fulfilling the zionist dream.

Anonymous said...

You better think about where you can move to away from the Middle East.

G_d has forsaken your people. In every other war Israel has been in since 1948 G_d has blessed your people with miracles to help you win, but not this war.


I believe it's because of the tolerance that has been seen in your nation for homosexuality, BSDM, and other immoral behavior.

Chronicles 24:20
New International Version (NIV)

20 Then the Spirit of G_d came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, "This is what G_d says: 'Why do you disobey the LORD's commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.'

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