I generally don’t “do” awe (it entails reverence). But seeing Israel’s young men (many still in their teens) leaving their loved ones, these past few days, and going off to battle, has filled me with the damn thing.
As a result of my late Aliyah (immigration), my service in the IDF was both short and depressingly pointless – at one stage, I was spending entire weeks in a warehouse, counting nuts and bolts for tanks – and, to quote Woody Allen (yes, I know, again), “In the event of war, I’m a hostage.”
I just cannot begin to imagine how it must feel to enter Gaza – never mind in pitch-darkness (as IDF soldiers did on Saturday evening) – in the full knowledge that it is teeming with deadly enemies, operating in a labyrinth of underground tunnels (a captured IDF soldier is worth far more to Hamas than a dead one, and one was almost dragged into a tunnel yesterday).
On yesterday’s evening news, parents at hospital bedsides were relating how the main concern of their injured sons was to return to their combat units as quickly as possible, and to be reunited with their comrades.
I am sufficiently self-aware to know that I have never had the fortitude to do what they are doing (I almost passed out during the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan – particularly embarrassing on a first date – so, the next time I am derogatory about Israeli males, please remind me as to what many of them were experiencing while I was struggling with my petty university “issues”).
In sharp contrast to the “soldiers” of Hamas, Hizbollah, and Al Qaeda, etc – whose world view and motivation are predicated on racism and hate – Israel’s young men are not there out of negative feelings towards Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims . . . but rather out of love for, and to defend, their families, People and Land. And this is precisely why Israel will emerge victorious, on this occasion too.
What is important is not that you “speak out as a Jew” – most of those who have done so, this past week and a half, have no interest in their Jewishness whatsoever – but what you “do as a Jew”.
There is no finer example of this than the selfless and courageous soldiers of the IDF. They are the true, modern-day Jewish heroes. And all of the “whores” and sell out merchants (see my earlier posts on Alexei Sayle, Gideon Levy and Harold Pinter) put together – who have been raising their ugly heads and voices – are not worth a single one of them.
Chazak ve’ematz! (Be strong and of good courage, Joshua 1:6-9)