Monday, July 28, 2014

DAN GORDON, IDF: We never taught you to hate.


Retired IDF Major General Avigdor Kahalani: "We never taught you to hate...And I’ll tell you why. If we teach you to hate, you can’t undo that. You’ll come back from the war and  it won’t be the “enemy”, it will be your brother-in-law, or your neighbor or your former friend. Once you teach people to hate, they’ll find someone to hate. So we never taught you that."


Yesterday I had the great privilege of accompanying Major General ( Ret) Avigdor Kahalani to an artillery battalion, somewhere in the war zone. General Kahalani is one of Israel’s greatest war heroes, a veteran of the Six Day War, The Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War. It is not an exaggeration to say that were it not for the actions of Avigdor Kahalani and the men under his command, the Syrians, who had already taken most of the Golan Heights, would have been able to push into Northern Israel, and the fate, not only of the war but, of the State of Israel would have been very much in doubt. Instead, Kahalani and those under his command were instrumental, not only in recapturing the Golan Heights, but pushed deep into Syrian territory until they literally were within artillery range of Damascus. It was a feat almost unheard of in the annals of modern warfare, in which a country recovered from a devastating Pearl Harbor-like attack, were confronted with totally new tactics by a well trained, superbly well armed adversary, adjusted to the new realities, counter-attacked, and within two and a half weeks were on the outskirts of the attacking force’s capital. Quite simply, General Kahalani and others like him, saved Israel. At the end of his military career, General Kahalani entered politics, was elected to Israel’s Parliament, served as an inner circle cabinet minister, and participated in some of the Israeli government’s most critical debates and decisions. After retiring from the political arena Kahalani became the Chairmen of AWIS, the Association for the Welfare of Israel’s soldiers.

It was in that capacity that he went out to meet with the soldiers serving,  under fire, in the field. For those young soldiers it was a chance to meet a living legend, as close as Israel has to Patton or MacArthur. I thought he was going to give them a sort of pep talk, though their spirits didn’t need any rallying.

I’ve been in the Israel Defense Forces for forty years,  and I’ve never seen morale so high, and never seen the country so united behind it’s soldiers. The other day I was in a restaurant at a crossroad just before the Gaza border. It’s sort of the last place to get a good meal before you hit the border into no man’s land. I was hungry as your basic honey badger, and had ordered a huge meal, knowing it would probably be the only chance I’d have to eat that day. When I went to pay the bill the waitress said it had already been taken care of.

“ Somebody bought me lunch? “ I asked , wanting to thank my benefactor.

“ No “ she said, “ Somebody picked up the bill for every soldier here.” There were easily fifty soldiers eating lunch there.” It happens like that every day, now” she said and smiled.

I’ve had total strangers take me in, offer me a bathrobe while they washed my uniform, feed me, literally offer me their beds to sleep in and their bathrooms to shower in. Amazing… amazing.

So the troops didn’t need a pep talk.

But what Kahalani told them, I found extraordinary.

 He spoke quietly.

So quietly the young soldiers leaned forward to catch ever word and when he spoke it was with a conviction that came straight from his heart and went straight into the herts of all of those who heard him.

“ We never taught you to hate.” He said, “

Not this army, not the Israel Defense Forces. We never taught you to hate. And there are armies in the world who do that. And I don’t know, maybe it works to a degree, maybe by hating the enemy, you are a fiercer fighter. I don’t know. But we never taught you that. And I’ll tell you why. If we teach you to hate, you can’t undo that. You’ll come back from the war and  it won’t be the “enemy”, it will be your brother-in-law, or your neighbor or your former friend. Once you teach people to hate, they’ll find someone to hate. So we never taught you that."

Suddenly he was speaking, not like a General but like a loving father to his much loved sons and daughters.

”We never taught you that. You know why you’re here. It’s not to hate anybody. It’s to defend your people, your homes and your families. Each of you has to feel as if the whole fate of the whole people of Israel is on you shoulders. Each of you holds that fate in your hands. But it’s not about hatred. And now you’ve inherited that tradition from my generation, and you’ll be the ones to continue it. But those who inherit have a responsibility. I know you won’t disappoint me.”

That was the pep talk from Israel’s Patton during a cruel and vicious war that was forced upon us by an equally cruel and vicious adversary, Hamas.


The pep talk was, Don’t hate. Do what you need to do to defend your homes, your families and your people. But don’t hate.

To the Palestinian people of Gaza : We don’t hate you. We don’t wish you ill. We want only to live in peace side by side with you. When you come out of wherever you’ve been able to take refuge , ask yourself why Hamas never built you any shelters to protect you. They’re great at digging tunnels after all. They’ve dug them under our border , intending to murder as many of our civilians as possible; our women and children, gathered in agricultural village dining halls. Not soldiers, not warriors, but our women and children and old people.

So they’re good at building tunnels.

Why didn’t they build any for you to take shelter in?

Then look at your neighborhoods, which are destroyed now because they housed the entrance points to those tunnels, not next to your homes but IN your homes!

They were turned your homes and neighborhoods into rocket launching sites and weapons storage depots. Not by accident, but to make you vulnerable, to insure, in fact , that you would be in harm’s way no matter how many warnings Israel issued before it attacked. Ask why Hamas told you to ignore those warnings and that it was your duty to stay in those neighborhoods which they had turned into military targets.

Ask yourself why Hamas didn’t accept the Egyptian Cease fire proposal which would have prevented the ground invasion and all the subsequent death and destruction.

 It wasn’t a Zionist plot.

It was an Egyptian proposal, endorsed by the Arab League and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. AND ISRAEL ACCEPTED IT IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY!!

It was Hamas which rejected it by launching a massive rocket attack, followed up by four separate terrorist tunnel attacks aimed not at our soldiers but at our women and children, who were meant to be murdered, maimed and taken hostage, dragged back through those tunnels into Gaza, so Khaled Mashal could declare a Divine Victory ,from a five star hotel in Qatar while you eat the dust of Gaza.

Look at your neighborhoods.

How’s Hamas’s Holy War working out for you?

Are your lives better?

Do your children have a better future?

Do they have ANY future but suffering?

 Hamas and their ilk have been trying to drive us into the sea for over a hundred years now.

How’s that working out for you?

Look at your lives and look at ours.

Despite not knowing one day of peace, our cities are beautiful, our women are gorgeous, our men handsome, our children, the apple of our eyes, our industry flourishes, our start up nation is the envy of the world. Our sense of personal happiness, though we have been constant victims of terrorist attacks and war, is amongst the highest of any people on earth. We live longer, have more college graduates, more computers more scientific papers published, more artists , musicians, scientists and entrepreneurs per capita than almost any place on earth. Our cows produce more milk than any other dairy cattle. Our agriculture exists almost entirely on reclaimed water and no country on earth does more with desalinized water than Israel. Draughts which would destroy another country have no affect on us. And we’ve done all that despite Hamas and their ilk’s stated plans to destroy us

You’ve  gone to war against us three times in the last five years.

You’ve initiated each one and we’ve begged you before each , not to launch more rockets at us.

But each time you were promised a new divine victory.

The rockets would be the sword that would defeat us.

 We invented Iron Dome.

The tunnels would be Hamas’s “surprise” that would “open the gates of hell to us”

We’re inside those tunnels right now. Blowing them up.

And who has paid the bitterest price?

You.

Is it worth it? Are you getting something out of all this?

Here’s an idea. You’ve tried war three times in five years? Try something new.

Try peace.

You don’t even have to call it peace. .

Just stop trying to kill us and prepare to be amazed at how good your lives will become..

But what about the siege?

The so called “ siege” which is nothing more than a sanction regime, was put in place BECAUSE YOU KEEP TRYING TO KILL US!

So stop.

You’re smart people. You’re industrious people. Stop trying to kill us and  you won’t need to be a martyr to get into Paradise. You’ll have Paradise on earth. You can become the Singapore of the Middle East. You have beautiful beaches that can be developed for tourism. You’re on the Mediteranean for Goodness sake! You are creative and hard working and talented. Put those talents to use at trying to improve your lives instead of trying to end ours.

You will become the gateway between Europe and the Middle East. There are donors lined up and waiting to offer you a Marshal Plan that will make your lives sweet. The plan that Khaled Mashal has for you, however, leads only to death.

You don’t even have to love us.

You don’t even have to like us.

In fact you can continue to hate us, if that gives you some sort of emotional comfort. It won’t bother us. Knock yourselves out. Just stop trying to kill us.

When Hamas tells you it’s a Holy War tell them to read the Quran. The Sura of The Children of Israel; Sura 17:104, “ And we said to the Children of Israel, Dwell securely in the Promised Land, and when the last warning comes,  we will gather you together in a mingled crowd”

THAT’S US!!

How much more mingled can we get? We’ve been gathered together , not just according to our prophecy, but to yours!

We come from every corner of the earth, because for two thousand years every Jew on Earth, who celebrates Passover of Yom Kippur, be they black white, brown or any of the rainbow hues the make up our people, says, “ Next Year in Jerusalem”.

So read THAT part of the Quran when they tell you to strap a suicide belt onto your son or daughter..

And for all your supporters and enablers, for those who march to end the death and destruction, if you really care about the Palestinians of Gaza, as you claim to, just tell them to try to stop trying to kill us.

Give it a decade.

Try it.

We’re not going anywhere. You won’t defeat us. You won’t destroy us. You won;t cast us into such despair that we leave the land we’ve yearned for , worked for , sweated and bled for  for two thousand years. We won’t withdraw from the Middle East. Because we live here. Our religion wasn’t born in Poland. It was born here. Our language wasn’t born in Russia or America or France or Ethiopia or Yemen or Morocco. It was born here. And I promise you, we won’t become war weary. We can’t afford to.

Just stop trying to kill us.

Because  we don’t hate you. We don’t teach our children or our soldiers to hate you. The words of our national anthem sum up the only thing we want; Lihiot am chofshi bi artzeinu, Eretz Zion, Yerushalayim ..” To be a free people. in our land. The land of Zion, Jerusalem.” Just like it says in the Quran.


HATIKVA

As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope - the two-thousand-year-old hope - will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

DAN GORDON, IDF: Grieving amid humanitarian pause and sunflower fields

Sunflower fields in Gaza
http://thisisgaza.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/gaza-sunflower-6.jpg?w=150&h=112
When I was a little kid  my brother, of blessed memory, who was six years older than me, took inordinate pleasure giving me what were then called “ Noogies” He was unmerciful and unrelenting in his “ Noogie “ attacks on my head. I would beg him to stop and he would say “ No”.

I would ask him, beg him, really to stop, “Just for a little while”

And after a bit more Noogiing, if he was feeling merciful, after a while, he would stop .

Looking back on it , that is what I would call, in retrospect a “Humanitarian Pause” .

I was suffering, asked him to stop, and for a while he would.

It didn’t mean the unending war between older and younger sibling had ended. It was a pause, asked for and granted and honored.

We didn’t need the UN or the EU or any other international body to monitor it. I asked for mercy and he gave it. He would say something like “I’ll count to thirty” and for those thirty seconds, The Humanitarian Pause was in effect and sacrosanct.

Thus when I next heard the phrase over a half century later, in 2009, to be exact, Hamas, once again claimed the mantle of victimhood while carrying out unceasing rocket attacks against Israel. Their people were suffering genocide, they shouted to one and all, and their amen corner of sympathizers, apologists , enablers , and many people who simply saw suffering, and without understanding the context, joined the chorus and said , “Yes, end the suffering now” .Never mind that all that Hamas had to do to end the suffering was to stop trying to kill us. That fact seemed, and seems until this day, too difficult to grasp for some.

“We need medicine,“ they cried plaintively, “And baby formula, and food and water and blankets. We are dying ! They are murdering us! This is genocide. They are doing to the Palestinians worse than what the Nazis did to the Jews!"

Let us just put a pin in that part for a moment., shall we? If the Nazis had treated the Jews the way Israel treats the Palestinians , there would be six million more Jews in the world today and all their descendants . The total number of Palestinians killed by Israel since 2000, is, by most estimates, somewhere between six and eight thousand people. That includes the figures from the second Intifada , the 2009, 2012 and present conflict combined.


That’s not genocide. That’s less than have been killed in Syria, in the last several months. But people only seem to care about Moslem Arabs being killed when it is in a war with Jews. Then it’s genocide.

To get back to 2009, Hamas, claiming that Israel was committing innumerable war crimes, and was also depriving them of humanitarian aide. Thus the idea of “ A Humanitarian Pause” was born.

Every day at a given hour, Israel would unilaterally cease fire, and open the border crossing at Kerem Shalom,  in order to allow hundreds of truck loads of humanitarian aide to flow unhindered into Gaza  to relieve the suffering of the civilian population.

http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/17609412.jpg


And every afternoon, Hamas would begin shelling the Kerem Shalom Crossing with mortar fire and rocket attacks, to prevent the transfer of humanitarian aide to their own people, in order to say that the Jews were withholding humanitarian aide!


I told that to an unbelieving BBC crew and offered to take them there so they could witness it first hand. But first I told them to make sure they had their running shoes on because mortars give no warning. They just fall and explode and if you’re in the wrong place they kill you. I brought them down at the time of the crossing opening and they set up their cameras, ready to film the convoy of trucks on the Israeli side of the border as they crossed into Gaza. I pointed out the bomb shelter to them. They scoffed knowingly. Precisely at the appointed moment, Israel ceased its fire, opened the Kerem Shalom crossing and as the first of the trucks began moving forward, Hamas launched a mortar and rocket attack against the crossing point. I pointed to the shelter and they took off running. Fastest Brits I have ever seen since watching Chariots of Fire..

Later when I went into Gaza myself, the paratroopers I was with were stopped by an Palestinian farmer. “Why don’t you kill them all?!” he demanded.

“Who?”

“Hamas!” he said. He pointed to a field from which Hamas launched dozens of rocket attacks against Israel. The field had once been his, he said.  He grew sunflowers, and it supported his family with honor. Hamas came and took it over and now it only sprouted rockets.” How do I feed my children with rockets? “ he demanded.

Hamas launches rockets from a field in Gaza.
http://www.idfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Hamas-rockets-launch-from-field.jpg
Through a translator I asked about the humanitarian aide, because some of it had gotten through each day despite the shellings. He told us that Hamas took all the goods, jacked up the prices, and then SOLD the goods to the populace.

So last night, at the urging of the UN, Israel extended by four hours, what was supposed to be a twelve hour “Humanitarian Pause” for the feast of Id al Fatir, the end of Ramadan, and to allow people to stock up on goods. Hamas rejected the extension and opened up with a rocket and mortar barrage. DESPITE that, at the urging of the international community, Israel agreed to extend the Humanitarian Pause for another 24 hours. Israel would not fire a single shot, but would continue blowing up the terrorist tunnels during the next 24 hours, in order to provide a period of relief for the civilian population.

Hamas answered that gesture with another series of rocket and mortar attacks.

A number of those mortar rounds fell in the civilian farming community where I had spent shabbat. In a previous article I described Rachel and Menashe, who had opened their home up to the soldiers as had the entire village because those soldiers, they knew, “would , and well may, lay down their lives,” in order to protect them.

And last night that is exactly what happened, to one of the boys who only two days ago celebrated the Sabbath with us. A mortar round landed, seriously wounding two of those soldiers who were there protecting that farming village.

I was notified a few hours ago that one of them died of his wounds this morning. His name not yet been released as far as I know. We had celebrated the Peace of Sabbatth only two days ago.

May his memory be a blessing.

DAN GORDON, IDF: Am Yisrael Chai

We have all seen the pictures of the horrible price the Palestinian people are paying because the Terrorist army of Hamas seized power in Gaza in a bloody coup against not Israelis, but against their fellow Palestinians. They have turned civilian communities into terrorist enclaves which Israel can either ignore, and let it's own civilians be killed, or take action against, while doing our best to limit injury to Palestinian civilians, behind whom Hamas  has hidden with such awful cynicism, and whose deaths they celebrate, exploit and wear as a mantle of victimhood, while perpetrating war crimes against both are peoples.


video
Pro-Palestinian rally in Boston plays into the Hamas victim strategy.

The pictures below, taken from inside homes and heavily populated neighborhoods in Gaza, are entrance points to terrorist tunnels, hidden inside civilian homes . Those tunnels lead beneath the internationally recognized border of Israel in order to enable Hamas terrorists to attack israeli civilian communities, murder, maim, capture And hold hostage Israeli men, women and children. In order to prevent those acts of terror against purely civilian targets, Israel had no choice but to go into Gaza and engage in heavy, house to house fighting, room to room fighting, in order to find and destroy these homicide tunnels. Iron dome can protect Israel from rockets.
 


Tragically, nothing but boots on the ground, in treacherous urban fighting, can take out the tunnels. Israel has accepted cease fire after cease fire. Hamas has rejected cease fire after cease fire and used them, instead, to launch more rockets and terrorist tunnel attacks against us . No country in the world would do anything less than Israel is doing now to safeguard our civilians. Nor has any country done anything more to protect the innocent civilians, trapped in an enemy entity, bent on it's destruction.

You've seen the pictures of the horror and heard people say," look at the disparity of casualties between Israel and the Palestinians."

1. We are not at war with the Palestinians who suffer even more than we do from Hamas's terrorist regime.

2. These pictures  show the cause of the horror, the turning of civilian communities into terrorist enclaves of rocket launchings and homicide tunnels aimed  against Israeli civilian communities. 

They also show why more Israelis haven't been killed despite Hamas's ceaseless efforts to do just that. The reason is the Israel Defense Forces who are fighting not for a caliphate, nor almond eyed virgins in paradise, nor to perpetuate the occupation of Gaza which we unilaterallyended almost a decade ago, in the mistaken hope that it would " give peace a chance". The Israel Defense Forces are fighting for our homes and our families. It will continue until the threat of the terrorist tunnels have been dealt with, And Hamas's terrorist infrastructure has been degraded to a degree which will allow our citizens to live the same peaceful life to which every civilized nation aspires. Our neighbors are neither Swiss nor Dutch, Canadians nor Swedes. There are no rewards for weakness where we live. Despite the best efforts of those who proudly announce their intention to annihilate us we answer back  with neither bravado nor empty threats. Instead we say what our people have saud for milenia in the face of each new Haman, Hitler or Hamas who has sought to destroy us.

Only By the Grace of a Merciful G-d, and the strength and selfless courage  of the IDF will we continue to do so.

Am Yisrael Chai! The People of Israel live!
video
By contrast, pro-Israel rally a block away asks only that Israel be allowed to exist.



Dan Gordon
Capt. IDF ( Res)

DAN GORDON, IDF: Dear Selena: letter from a fan

Dear Selena,
Though we’re both in the same business, you and I have never met. 

I wanted to cast you in a movie I was going to do  a few years back when you were just beginning to leave the Disney fold and establish yourself as an actress, flowering into a beautiful womanhood. It wasn’t the direction your people they wanted you to go in at the time, and we moved on to another truly wonderful actress, a great kid named Olesya Rulin, who's become like an adopted daughter. It was a little Indie and it was lucky you didn’t say yes because we had a first time producer who recut the picture on her laptop and destroyed what could have been a little “ Juno” of a film and hacked it into a grade B tv movie that wound up on basic cable. So good career move by Team Selena.

 But I was a fan even back then.

Recently you tweeted out something regarding the Hamas launched war in Gaza, that expressed a beautiful sentiment and you caught some flack for it. Your tweet was, “ Please pray for those families and babies today. Please always remember what’s important in life. We are here to help, inspire and love. Be that change.”

Any father or grandfather would be proud of a sweet sentiment like that, coming from his adolescent daughter or grand daughter. 

Think of me as your Jewish Uncle for a second and know that I’m a little concerned, because while it’s an absolutely sweet adolescent posting, you’re a young woman now. 

I promise you I don’t mean this in any condescending way whatsoever. I know how tough the spotlight and paparazzi can be. I shared my life with an actress for 17 years, an absolutely spectacular woman, and I saw what the paparazzi did to her at times, trailing her through Heathrow airport with her gay hairdresser, whom they claimed was her new boy toy , and with whom she had supposedly trashed a hotel room the night before. Total lie from start to finish. You live in a tough world , in a ruthless profession. I remember the night my sweetheart and I were chased through the streets of Rome in a taxi by a dozen paparazzi on motorcycles, and how terrified she was that someone would be killed as this was only a short time after Princess Di and Dodi Fayed met that fate in an all too similar chase through the streets of Paris. 

So trust me there is not a whiff of condescension in this. Just a Jewish Uncle, putting his arm around a sweet young woman, and offering the best possible advice I can give.

Understand also, that I know you’re a Christian and your faith is at the heart of that sweet sentiment. As they say in the South ," I luv me some Christians! “ By that, for the uninitiated, I don’t mean” Some Christians” , I mean I love Christians. Period. I’m the co founder of the Zaki Gordon Cinematic Arts Center at Liberty University in Lynchburg VA which is already the largest and finest Christian Film School in the world and within a few short years will be one of the finest film schools in the world, period. 

So there is not a whiff of condescension regarding your faith either. I trust it is heartfelt, sincere, and at the center of your life.

But as your uninvited Jewish Uncle, let’s say you had a close friend who was in trouble. Maybe a girlfriend who had an eating disorder or a drug problem, or was in an abusive relationship. You wouldn’t be doing them any favor at all, no matter how much you loved and prayed for them, by turning a blind eye to what was at the heart of their problem, and enabling them through well intentioned naiveté. In fact you’d be doing the opposite.

I grew up both in Israel and the US. I had two sets of best friends , who have stayed my best friends for over fifty years. Some of those friends, of my Israeli youth, were killed in battle in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, a war Israel is never wanted to be in , in which we were attacked by the armies of  Egypt and Syria. 

In that war we lost almost three thousand boys killed in three weeks. 

But that was a war of armies vs armies. Soldiers vs soldiers, and the Egyptian and Syrian soldiers fought bravely for their countries, as we did for ours. There were almost no civilian casualties, just soldiers on both sides. That was because even though they invaded us,  in a Pearl Harbor style attack, they never hid behind their own civilians. They did what soldiers are supposed to do , they put their civilians far behind them, and protected them, and engaged us, as soldiers, on the field of battle. They neither targeted our civilians, nor hid behind their own. 

So only soldiers died, amongst them, two dear friends of my youth. 

In America I had four dear friends: Corby, Larry, Tim and Jeffrey. Tight as buddies could be. In fact we all sang together in various trios and folk quartets. Thye were as close to me as brothers. 

Three of us are still alive. 

Tim was Tim Buckley. He was a fairly successful folk rock star in the sixties, a gorgeous singer with an amazing voice and a totally fearless talent. He was the father of Jeff Buckley, who was oddly enough conceived on my living room floor when Tim, and his soon to be wife Mary, ran away and hid out in my apartment, since I was the only one of us in high school who lived in my own apartment. I wasn’t about to give up my bed in my tiny abode for the young lovers, no matter how good friends they were, so they got some blankets on the floor.

Jeff Buckley, whom I loved like a son,was killed in a tragic accidental drowning at the height of his career.

A few years later my son Zaki, at the start of what would have been a glorious career as a writer/director, was killed in a no less tragic car accident.

But Jeff’s father, Tim, was something else.

 He was a junkie. 

Not full tilt , mind you, just doing too many and too dangerous drugs. I was in the Israeli army. It was 1974 and I was on leave in the US doing my first produced feature, because  the producers had some juice and got me a leave to come to LA and finish the screenplay there. When I saw Tim and saw what bad shape he was in we got into a terrible fight. I told him at the rate he was going he’d be dead in less than a year. I was furious because my Israeli friends had died in combat in a war not of their choosing and here was a talented young musician who had everything in the palm of his hand and was throwing it away because everyone around him was enabling him. I told him I would go AWOL, risk court marshal to stay in LA and help him kick his habit, but I wouldn’t enable him out, of misplaced pity for the demon that was riding his back into an early grave. 

That, I wouldn’t do. 

So we got into a fight and I told him it was his life and if he wanted to end it uselessly, I wouldn’t be a party to it. It was the last thing I could think of to save him.

It didn’t work.
I went back to Israel and the army, and Tim was dead in less than a year, of an overdose . And all the misguided sympathy, and the enabling hypocrites who supposedly loved him, and helped lead him to his destruction, cried crocodile tears at his funeral and then went on to the next story. 

Forgive the bitterness. But I truly loved him. I mourn him to this day.

Sweet Girl, I too pray for the Palestinian people of Gaza and my heart goes out to them.

They are ruled by the most ruthless occupier in their history. 

Not Israel. 

We unilaterally ended the occupation of Gaza and used our own army to uproot ten thousand people form the homes they had lived in for forty years.

We pulled them by force from their farms, their businesses and their places of worship.

 If they had been Palestinians we would have been denounced as Nazis. 

But they weren’t Palestinians, they were Jews and Israelis. 

And we used our own army against them, to pull them out of their homes and villages, in order to end the occupation of Gaza and “ Give Peace a Chance”.

The policy was called “ Gaza First” and the idea was, if it could work in Gaza, it could be the template for ending the suffering of the Palestinian people, and finally seeing them have their own Palestinian state, living side by side in peace alongside the Jewish State of Israel. 

We prayed for them and wanted them to become the Singapore of the Middle East. And they could have. 

But they were cruelly taken over, not by Israelis , but by the terrorist army of Hamas, in a blood thirsty coup in which Hamas lined up and machine gunned their fellow Sunni, Moslem Palestinian brothers, blindfolded and bound them and pushed them off three story buildings, and shot their knee caps off if they protested, in their so called interrogations.

The families and babies you urged people to pray for have been killed because of Hamas. 

Sweet Girl, WE ACCEPTED A CEASE FIRE BEFORE THE GROUND INVASION BEGAN!

It wasn’t our cease fire or an American Cease fire or a UN or EU cease fire. It was an Arab Cease fire proposal, put forward by Egypt and endorsed by the Arab League and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. AND ISRAEL ACCEPTED IT IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY.

It as supposed to take place at 9:00 a.m. the next day and all the killing and suffering would have stopped, and those babies and families you  would have us pray for now, would all have been alive.

You know how Hamas gave its answer to the cease fire proposal? It launched a massive rocket attack all aimed, not at our soldiers , but at OUR families and babies , and then later that day, thirteen terrorists, armed with anti tank missiles, machine guns , grenades, thousands of rounds of ammunition AND hand cuffs and tranquilizers, popped up from an underground tunnel, just a short jog away from our civilian farming communities. 

You jog farther on a treadmill, in your workout, than they would have had to jog to murder hundreds of OUR families and babies , and take them hostage and drag them back into the terrorist tunnels, into Gaza. 

Then and only then did Israel realize what horrible danger we were in from a network of dozens of tunnels, with sixty different access points, scattered throughout Gaza in private homes, hospitals, in crowded neighborhoods, and under schools , all aimed at providing access to terrorists who wanted to kill , maim and take hostage, not our soldiers, but OUR families and babies.

If Hamas was a drug it would make crack and crystal meth look like M&Ms. 

They are a terrorist army of Iran’s making, and Qatar’s financing, and they used the cement and steel that the good people of the US and Europe paid for with their tax dollars, supposedly to rebuild Gaza, and which Israel let through the border crossings because we knew if they could build houses, and schools and hospitals and community centers for their families and babies, it would bring us all closer to the peace we all pray for.

But instead of rebuilding Gaza with what you and the good people of the US and Europe donated to them, and we allowed to go into Gaza, Hamas played all of us, and the Palestinian people of Gaza for suckers, for chumps. And they used that cement and steel to build the terrorist tunnels which just popped up on my peoples’ front lawns like gopher holes to disgorge not rodents, but terrorists, who did everything humanly possible to murder them. 

Just yesterday we found one of those terrorist tunnels, that came up inside the dining hall of a farming village, called Nahal Oz. The plan was to use it to murder, maim and take hostage hundreds of families while they were eating a holiday meal. 

They were stopped only by the actions of my fellow soldiers who put their lives on the line every single day, not to build a caliphate, nor get seventy two almond eyed virgins in Paradise, nor even to maintain any occupation of Gaza , which we ended almost ten years ago. We put our lives on the line literally to protect our homes and families. Not our metaphorical homes and families, but our actual homes, the houses in which our families,whom they panned to murder, live in.

Click this link to a blog  where I’ve kept a sort of soldiers diary and an entry, in particular, called "We’re both From The Same Village. "Read it to the end. Please, Maideleh ( that’s a very endearing Yiddish term).

You’re a young woman now with a huge voice. You owe it to yourself, and the people who follow you on social media.

And when this is over and I get back to LA, honestly have your guys call my agent.. I don’t want to do lunch or talk movies.
I’d like to pray with you.

Dan Gordon 
Capt. IDF ( Res)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

DAN GORDON, IDF: We’re, all of us, from the same village

http://www.vnews.com/news/nation/world/12841969-95/death-toll-darkens-israeli-mood
I spend the night last night with the family I met the day before. The ones I wrote about in an article called “Why We Fight”. I met them yesterday and when I see them today I’m greeted not like the stranger who knocked on the wrong door and found the right people, which is what happened yesterday.  Today I’m family. Not just family, beloved family. And I’m not alone either. All the soldiers for whom they’ve set up cots in their front yard are family too. The twenty some odd soldiers they let in to their home to take showers in their bathroom; they’re family too. Today I finally meet the father. We’ll call him Menashe. He’s in his mid-fifties,  and he still does reserves. He’s a sergeant major.

“ 
Sargent major in the army,“ he says, “ Sargent major at home.”

And what does a sergeant major in the Israeli army do?

First and foremost he takes care of his guys.

And that’s just what Menashe does. He makes sure they have mattresses, towels, he makes sure they get the care packages that total strangers have made up and simply dropped off at this little farming village” For the boys”. And now he’s making felafels ….for everybody. Twenty soldiers…twenty five, thirty. I don’t know. Mama Rachel is making them with him and she calls up her own reserve troops, her sons. The whole family is preparing felafel’s….for strangers who happen to be wearing uniforms and carrying weapons and would, and well may, lay down their lives for Rachel and Menashe and their family. Because just out there a few hundred meters away was the tunnel exit where the terrorists popped up yesterday. The war is on their front lawn so they’ve opened up their homes and their hearts to these boys who know exactly what they’re fighting for.

They’re fighting for THEIR homes as well…as if all Israel is one family, one home, one village.

But “ I think to myself, “ That’s probably because we’re on the border and the war really is on their front lawn.

One of the sons insists I sleep in his bed.

No way.” I say, “Not going to happen”.

Listen” he says, I sleep in the shelter , the re-enforced room, anyway, since the whole thing started. So either way the bed is empty. It’s yours.”

I don’t even know his name.

I don’t think he knows mine. I’m just that guy who knocked on the wrong door yesterday and wrote the article his mother didn’t want to be interviewed for because she was making pizza.

And it’s not just Mama Rachel and Abba Menashe who have opened up their homes and hearts. The whole village has. They’re throwing a concert for the troops in their school building. R and R for the “boys and girls”  while the sounds of rockets, mortar and machine gun fire filter in from the battle field that is only a few kilometers away.

They’re not fighting in Afghanistan. Israel is fighting on its front lawn.

I’m up early the next morning. I only get a chance to say good bye to one of the sons, but we hug and part like brothers. Because after all, we’re family now.

There are nostalgic songs on the radio, as I drive North. Songs of my generation and earlier ones. Soldiers' songs. Songs of comrades in arms and mothers waiting to welcome their sons home on Shabbat, promising to be waiting at the door for their return, lover’s songs, promising to be waiting as well, and a song that everyone knows called” We are Both From The Same Village” though the music of the words is much sweeter in Hebrew. The melody is sweet and sad and the words tell of two friends who grew up in the same village, chased the same girls, made out with them on the village green, went into the army together, came home on Shabbat together, went into battle together and now only one returns…to mourn the other.

I have to leave early because I’m driving “Up North” to the kibbutz where I was partly raised. It’s a small village, a few hundred people, where, as the saying used to go "everyone knows what color underwear you wear.”

Everyone’s nose in in each other’s business, for better and for worse.

It’s where I went to high school fifty years ago, and like the song says, kissed girls on the village green, where I was “adopted” by a family who became as much my parents as my biological family, where I went into the army, and where they welcomed me home each time I came back on leave as one of their sons, where I married, and where my son, Zaki, of blessed memory, was born; a ben meshek, a son of the village
Parents' worse nightmare: Evie Steinberg, mother of Sgt. Max Steinberg sits in an army vehicle in front of the coffin of her son
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2703059/Tell-mom-I-love-Heartbreaking-words-American-lone-soldier-killed-fighting-Gaza-Strip-30-000-mourners-attend-funeral-Jerusalem.html
He was born within a few months of my classmates’ children, because after the Yom Kippur War we all got married, all had kids, all at the same time, a biological response of the species because our friends, from that village, had been killed in battle. The friends of my youth are buried in the cemetery above our village, in the forest where I used to make out with girl friends on full moon nights  with a million stars above our heads, and a million plans, noble ideas and stupid ones, fantasies  and the what ifs  of a village youth.

As is always the case when I come to Ginnegar, the name of the kibbutz where I grew to manhood, I am coming home.

But not with any joy. Not for any planned or impromptu reunion with classmates who have been my best friends for half a century, who married when I did, had kids when I did, and now have gone grey as we all have.

I’m coming home for the funeral of Shachar Dauber, staff sergeant, paratrooper…twenty years old.

I don’t know him. Don’t think I ever even saw him. Nor do I know his parents who came to Ginnegar after I had already left to return to LA to become a screenwriter.

But we’re both from the same village.

The funeral is supposed to start at 11:00. I’m running late because I’ve come all the way up north from the border with Gaza and now I’m stuck in traffic. “This is absurd” I think, “There’s never any traffic on this road and now today of all days, I’m stuck in traffic a few miles away from Ginnegar. Probably a fender bender. I hope that’s all it is.”

Israelis are notoriously bad drivers. My “adopted brother” Ron was killed in a car accident at sixteen. He would be one year shy of his sixtieth birthday if he had lived. He’d be a senior citizen. Instead he is eternally sixteen, just as my boy, who would have been approaching middle age by now, is forever twenty two.

"
What is with this traffic? “And then I realize, the traffic is headed to Ginnegar. The traffic is for the funeral.


But not just traffic. There are thousands of people coming here. Thousands!! This boy couldn’t have known all these people. It’s unending. And when I finally make the turn into the kibbutz, they’ve rented busses to take people up to the cemetery because …there are thousands .

How could a twenty year old possibly know so many people?

He couldn’t have known all these people.

I don’t know any of them and this is my village, my home.

We go up to the cemetery. I put stones on the graves of my adopted father, Chanan, my adopted mother Miriam, and my adopted brother, Ron. Over there is the grave of my favorite teacher and high school counselor. Here, the grave of a childhood friend, there the grave an old guy we always made fun of. I know more people below ground than above in this crowd of thousands.

Shachar's classmates eulogize him and they tell stories about him that my classmates and I could have told about each other fifty years ago. Stories about impromptu picnics in the forest, where now he will dwell, forever a youth of twenty years; stories of girls and village greens, of full mooned nights, of a million stars, and a million noble ideas, and stupid ones, fantasies, and the what ifs of a village youth.

Boys and girls, men and women, soldiers cry openly unashamed and comforting each other.

I see two of my best friends in life Chaim and Dani. We’re all grandfathers now. We hug and kiss each other, ask about children and grandkids, but i can’t stay long. I have to drive halfway down to the middle of the country, though we call it “going up” because I’m going up to Jerusalem.

I’m going to pay a condolence call to the family of Max Steinberg, sergeant, Golani Brigade, twenty four years old. Originally from Los Angeles, the other place I grew up.

I’m going because he was a “lone soldier” which is the term for a soldier without any real family in Israel. I was a “lone soldier.”  I suppose, if a sixty seven year old reservist can qualify for that term, it’s what I am today, a “lone soldier” with no blood relatives, or “ adopted” ones  still alive in Israel. And Max Steinberg was not just from LA. He lived about fifteen minutes away from where I raised my kids in LA. He went to El Camino High School where my college Sweetheart and the great love of my youth was a teacher till she retired a few years ago. I’m thinking, she was probably his teacher as well. I know what it is to lose a son. I want to say a few words of comfort to his parents, who are doing the seven days of mourning at a hotel in Jerusalem.

When word got out that Max Steinberg was a “ lone soldier” with no family in Israel, thirty thousand people turned up to his funeral to accompany him on his final journey on this earth and to stand with him and his family. THIRTY THOUSAND PEOPLE for a soldier who was supposedly ”alone”.

It has been several days since the funeral. People have probably already forgotten, moved on and, I think to myself , it will be good to comfort his parents. I know what they must be feeling. Been there. Done that. I get to the hotel and ask what room the Steinberg family is in so I can go up and pay a condolence call while they’re sitting Shiva, in the period of mourning.

It’s not in their room” the front desk clerk tells me," it’s one floor down, in the ball room.”

And when I go down stairs there are hundreds of people, perhaps as many as a thousand.

I talk to some of them. They came from all walks of life, and none of them knew him.

There are a lot of young soldiers.

I figure they must be from his unit, his pals, but they’re air borne and from other units, No, none of them knew him either.

They were just from the same village. Israel.

Turns out, as I learned with Rachel and Menashe and the people of their village, as I learned in Ginnegar and in Jerusalem, as the thirty thousand people learned at Max Steinberg’s funeral, there are no “lone soldiers” in Israel.

And as can be the case with the internet today, if you’re a Palestinian from Gaza reading this, I want you to know, that no one passed out candy to celebrate either of these boys’ martyrdom. Their parents didn’t celebrate because they had fulfilled the promise of becoming shaheed or martyr. No one expected seventy two virgins to greet them. There was no joyous trilling of tongues nor shots fired wildly into the air.

And something else as well. In both gatherings, amongst those thousands of people, many of them soldiers, on leave from the battle with Hamas, to which we will all return in a few hours time, I heard not one word of hatred toward you, not one racist expression, not one vow to avenge these deaths, not one, not one.

After the 2009 and 2012 campaigns in response to the rockets launched by Hamas against Israel, the Hamas leaders, Ismail Haniyah and Khaled Mashal both talked about the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. Never mind that they brought it about with wars of their making. They talked about the destruction and the “blockade”. Never mind that the “blockade” of Gaza was a non-lethal measure Israel took INSTEAD of going to war, hoping it would stem the terrorist attacks against us. Never mind that there was no blockade of Gaza when we turned it over to the Palestinian Authority, whose men Hamas machine gunned to death in the blood thirsty coup that brought them to power. Never mind that the blockade came in response to the terrorist attacks against us, not the other way around.

Khaled Mashal turned to the world’s media and said that Israel had to be made to allow building materials to come into Gaza, cement and steel, to rebuild the buildings Israel had bombed. How could the Zionists object to that?. You can’t use cement and steel to make a rocket, they said. You can only use it to rebuild what the Zionists so cruelly destroyed. And so the West opened its pocket book and bought the cement and steel and Israel let it go through.

So let me ask you, if you’re reading this in Gaza, did Hamas use it to build you new schools and hospitals, community centers or parks?

No. We both know now what that cement and steel was used for; it was used to build the terrorist tunnels meant to murder us.

What did you get out of it.?

What did you get out of the billions spent on rockets and mortars and homicide tunnels?

I know what we got out of Iron Dome. We got a defense system that saved lives.

What did you get.?

I know why our boys died.

They died defending our country, our homes, our village.

But what did your boys die for?

We accepted a cease fire.  It was Hamas that not only turned it down, but then launched a terrorist tunnel attack against Rachel and Menashe’s village and dozens of others along the border.

It was to be Hamas and Khaled Mashal’s shock and awe.

After that, how could we not go in to deal with the terrorist tunnels? How could any country not commit its armed forces to remove that kind of murderous threat from it’s civilian population?

So what did your boys die for?

It was all so unnecessary. We had agreed to the cease fire .

We wanted to start a cycle of peace. Hamas initiated a cycle of death.

And what did you get out of it. ?

Khaled Mashal said yesterday that there would be no cease fire, that he and the leadership of Hamas would die to lift the siege.

But there was no siege till Khaled and company announced their intentions to kill us all, and launched the rocket attacks to do it.

And Khaled Mashsal made his brave comments from Qatar.

Last time I looked there were no Israeli soldiers in Qatar.

He’s in a five star hotel getting spa treatments,  while you eat the dust of Gaza.

I promise you, on the soul of my son Zaki, of Blessed memory, and on the souls of all the fallen, we don’t hate you.

We don’t wish you ill.

We want you to live peaceful, long, joyous lives. We want your children not to be martyrs, but to marry, have children, give you the joy of grandchildren and wedding feasts, not funerals.

We just want you to stop trying to kill us.

Until then we’ll complete the mission of dealing with the tunnels, degrading Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure and allowing our people to live the kind of tranquil lives we wish for you.

We know you’re suffering. We know you’re under Hamas’s gun.

And we know we’re, all of us,  from the same village

We pray for the day when you know it as well.

Dan Gordon
Capt. IDF (Res(

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DAN GORDON, IDF: Pizza, shelter and gratitude. When your front porch is the front

Golan
A dear friend of mine, Vicki, is married to my high school classmate who has been one of my best friends since I was a kid in Israel fifty years ago. She knows I’m “down South” in the war zone. So is her son Benji who serves as a medic in the Homefront command. She said, " Listen, if you want a shower or a chance to rest or a hot meal or even someone to wash your uniform, I have a dear friend in one of the border communities. She and her family have opened up their home to any soldiers in the area. And check with Benji and give him a ride down there too if he wants a break. So I check with Benji, but he’s not getting any breaks today, not with the amount of rockets Hamas is launching against our civilians. He’s on constant alert. But I’m not that important. If I want a break I can take it. I’d kill to stretch out on a mattress right now and take a nap. I smell a bit ripe because one tends to sweat a tad in a flack jacket. I’d love a shower and a change of uniform. So absolutely, I’m headed down to see her friend. Let’s call her Rachel. Not her real name because she asked me not to use it. So I plug the name of the community into the GPS and I’m off .   
And the closer I get the louder the sounds of war and the more I have to pull off to the side of the road and take cover from the rocket attacks.The rockets don’t bother me as much as the mortars because there’s no warning with a mortar round. No siren, no Code Red alert on the radio , no phone app that says watch out you might just get killed if you don’t take cover in the next fifteen seconds. Besides the closer I get the less time there is to take cover. Fifteen seconds is going to seem like a life time in a few more kilometers.
Now understand, I’m a former kibbutznik. I know what a little agricultural village looks like. But reality begins to change the closer I get. The MPs have closed the road leading to this little community and the dozens of others down here. Only residents and military personal can get through. But I’m in Uniform and flak jacket and show my officer’s I.D. and they wave me through, assuming obviously, I must be a fighter, a warrior on his way to take up his position on the front. In reality I’m a lazy so and so who wants a shower, a free meal and a cot..

But when I get to this little community the thing that assaults your senses first are the sounds of battle. Its deafening and constant. Because this is where the war is. It’s not in Afghanistan or Bosnia or anywhere else far away. It’s not even like the wars of my youth in Sinai or the Golan Heights.
 
It’s right here! It’s in their front yard. I don’t mean their metaphorical front years. I mean the front yard they water. Soldiers, and not any soldiers, not sad sack, rear echelon guys someone gave a weapon to, and said go stand guard at that latrine, type soldiers. I mean elite combat soldiers in full battle gear. I mean as good as it gets soldiers, weapons at the ready, helmets, flack jackets, locked and loaded soldiers. Except this isn’t an army base or some battlefield “somewhere” else, anywhere else but here, in these peoples’ front yard. 
And the closer I get the louder the sounds of war and the more I have to pull off to the side of the road and take cover from the rocket attacks.The rockets don’t bother me as much as the mortars because there’s no warning with a mortar round. No siren, no Code Red alert on the radio , no phone app that says watch out you might just get killed if you don’t take cover in the next fifteen seconds. Besides the closer I get the less time there is to take cover. Fifteen seconds is going to seem like a life time in a few more kilometers. 
I ask directions to Rachel’s house and get there and it’s locked. She’s not there. I go next door.  Maybe I have the wrong house. This looks like the right one because someone has set up cots on the front porch. They’ve even put a tv outside . I’m already eyeing the cot I mean to sleep on. I knock on the door and a big hearted woman with a smile that could light up the world comes to the door. “ I’m making the pizzas “ she says, “ But they’re not ready yet.”
“ I’m Vicki’s friend” I say. “ She said if I was in the area..”

“What Vicki?” she says.

OK I must have the wrong house . “ I’m looking for Rachel” I say

“I’m Rachel “ she says.

“ But you don’t know Vicki?”

“You must want the other Rachel. She lives next door.”

“ Oh“ I say, “She’s not home”

“Okay,“ She says, “So come on in. Sit down , rest. The pizzas will be ready soon. You want something to eat?”

This woman doesn’t know me from Adam, but I’m a soldier, so now I’m quite simply family, even though I have the wrong house, I have the right one.

The house smells of all good things . Onions and mushrooms being sautéed for the pizza, the aroma of coffee, dough beginning to bake like fresh bread in the oven.

It smells like home.

But it sounds like war.

Artillery , tank fire, small arms fire, rockets and mortars . 'How can it sound like war?" I think," She’s making pizza. She has kids and two dogs, and vegemite, if somebody ever wanted anything like that. But it’s a home, a normal home. Except there’s a war going on not miles away but a few thousand yards away.."

She introduces me to her daughter and son, two of four or five kids she has. The daughter is 30 and a beauty, in that feisty, friendly, farm girl way. The son is a teenager, tall, handsome kid, very much being the man of the house while the father is away. In addition to the pizza and the onions and mushrooms being sautéed, I smell something else. I smell a story. I explain who I am, what I’m doing, and ask if I can interview her and her son and daughter about what it’s like to live literally in a war zone, under constant fire and threat of being killed.

“I don’t want to be interviewed” she says.

The daughter says, “Come on Imma (Mom), it’s a chance to unload, to say what’s in your heart.”

“I’m not unloading anything. I’m making pizza”

Just then on the t.v. there is a some kind of an app. It shows that rockets have just hit a few miles down the road.

“Imma,“ the son says, again, being the man looking after his mother and older sister, “ They’re coming our way.”

The mother glances at the t.v.. Then she looks at her stove as if to see if there’s anything that needs attending to before the rockets begin to fall. I turn to the daughter. “What’s it like living like this?"

And the flood gates open up. I’m just someone to talk to right now. Someone whom she can tell what it’s like. The words come out staccato, pouring out of her, as if she can’t speak quickly enough to keep up with the emotion driving each word. ”What’s it like? It’s constant.”

“We haven’t slept in two weeks” the mother says, and I know i won’t have to ask another question of anyone. All I’ll have to do is listen, “I don’t know how we function . I don’t know what day it is. “

“It hurts your ears.” The daughter says, “when we’re in the reinforced room and the rocket hits, it changes the pressure or something, the shock waves, it hurts your ear drums.”

“I’ve already lost some of my hearing “ The mother says, “In this ear. I can’t hear well any more.”

Just then the code red alert sounds. We don’t have fifteen seconds here. We have five seconds. That’s it. There isn’t a bomb shelter outside because you’d never get to it in time. There’s a reinforced concrete room with an iron door.
The mother moves quickly to the front door and shouts to the soldiers who are outside like a mother hen “ Boys! “ She shouts,  Get in the shelter. Now!”
An Israeli safe room, http://talkingnow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/safe.jpg
Nobody messes with Mama Rachel and no one has to be asked twice. This isn’t like it is even ten kilometers away where people walk a little slower. Here it’s five seconds. Suddenly the tiny reinforced room is packed with soldiers, each with his weapon, combat slung across his shoulder. People are laughing that it interrupted a good joke someone was telling. It’s the bravado of the bomb shelter and then the building shakes and the sound is deafening and the shock wave or change in air pressure or whatever it is whacks your ear drums. One rocket, two  and then another one, all of them close. Then there’s the all clear.

“The pizzas will be ready in a few minutes “ Mama Rachel says, patting some of her olive drab, machine gun wearing baby chicks as they go back to their posts..

“That’s what it’s like,“ says the daughter, “and it never ends.

The son, a teenager, says, “It’s all I’ve known my whole life. Rockets falling. Mortars”

“Thirteen years! “ says the daughter, “ What country in the world would put up with that? Thirteen years of rocket attacks? Would the Americans let that happen to I don’t know, San Diego, New York?…Texas? For thirteen years? Would France put up with that? Would England? What do you think Putin would do? And we’re supposed to “show restraint.” Show restraint?! How much more restrained can we be?! For thirteen years we’ve been under attack! Even after the last two operations in 2009 and 2012, when there was supposedly a ceasefire.”

“What ceasefire?! “ the mother says,"Every month Hamas would fire a rocket here, a rocket there, ten rockets , twenty in a month….”

“And Israel said, well it’s only a few rockets a week, so we can’t react to that!”says the son.’

“A few rockets a week?! Is the whole world insane?!” The daughter says,not to me, not to anyone. To God maybe." Are they all crazy?! Listen to that, only a few rockets a week and for them that’s normal! That’s how we’re supposed to live! Only a few rockets a week!  Only what they call a drizzle of rockets! And we were restrained. We didn’t do anything because after all it’s only a few rockets! And I don’t even care about the rockets! But the tunnels , now! The terrorist tunnels. Right out there!”
 
She points to her front door, “ Right out there! 
This family’s war is literally a few hundred meters away.
Read that one again.

I didn’t say it was a few hundred miles away. Like, say you lived in LA ,and the war was in Las Vegas.

I didn’t say it was a few hundred kilometers away. Like, say you lived in New York, and it was  at the other end of New Jersey.

I didn’t even say it was a mile away.

The war they face and have faced almost constantly for thirteen years is about two thousand meters, as the rocket flies, from their front door. At least that’s the distance away from their front door that it was up until a few days ago when the first thirteen terrorists popped up like zombies from graves opening up on their FRONT LAWN! Except these weren’t Zombies on a cable TV series. There’s no way to switch channels on this one. These were terrorists, armed to the teeth with anti tank missiles, machine guns , grenades, handcuffs, tranquilizers, all bent on murdering, maiming,kidnapping and taking hostage as many of them and their children as possible.

Imagine if Afghanistan wasn’t in Afghanistan. Imagine if it was on your front porch.

That’s their reality.

That’s where the war is.

Quite literally in their front yard.
“You know what happened here today?” the son says.
“They tried to attack again. The terrorists.” The daughter says,"They came up out of a tunnel that just opened up in the ground. The army got some of them but then said that two were still on the loose so they tell you to go into the fortified room and lock the door.” 
You have gophers who come up out of holes and eat your petunias, let’s say?

They have Hamas terrorists who come up out of sophisticated tunnels, some of them built, by the way with YOUR TAX DOLLARS!
“Do you have any weapons in the house?” I ask

“What weapon?!“ she says, “They have anti tank missiles with them! Anti tank missiles that can rip a tank apart and kill everyone inside, except this isn’t a tank. It’s my home!”

"So why do you stay here?" I ask.

“It’s our home!“ the son says.

“I work in the dairy” the daughter says, “Someone has to take care of the cows. Someone has to milk them, feed them. What did the cows do to anyone?. We’re farmers . We have to take care of the farm”

The Mother says, “ I work in the day care center. There are still children here. I can’t abandon them. Someone has to take care of them. They’re children. So when the army said the terrorists were out there... I don’t mean a thousand meters away, they were somewhere within a few hundred meters from here. How fast can you run two hundred meters? That’s how fast they could get to us.”

“You know they want to murder us” says the daughte , as if revealing a truly dirty secret," You know we’re the targets, don’t you? Not the army. They want us. We’re the Divine Victory they could have. To murder us, to take us hostage and drag us back through the tunnels into Gaza. We’re the targets.”

“ So,“ says the mother” I’m in the day care center. I take the children into the fortified room and lock the door and say this is just an exercise. It’s just pretending. So we know what to do . Like a fire drill. I do puzzles with them, and color and promise them ice cream and all the while I know there are terrorists out there and the only thing between them and those little children are our soldiers, the ones you saw on the porch, the ones you see patrolling our village, and the ones who are in Gaza fighting. What do you think they’re fighting for?

“You think this is politics” the daughter asks, “We’re what they’re fighting for! This is our home. This is their home! Hamas wants to kill us. And they say they want to kill us! They go on television and say we want to kill the Jews! They don’t lie about it. They announce it to the whole world and, what? They don’t see ? They don’t hear”

This beautiful girl suddenly grabs both sides of her head as if her head is about to explode with the insanity of the life she lives, “You know the story about the Palestinian boy who got the transplant here? There was a boy.from Gaza and he needed an organ transplant and the mother brings him over here to Israel so we can save her little boy’s life. And that’s fine. I say it’s fine if we can help them, if we can save a life, a child’s life? Yes of course! Bring him. So whose organ gets transplanted? There is a Jewish boy, an Israeli boy who is killed in a terrorist attack and his father gives the ok to transplant his dead son, his murdered son’s kidney or whatever they transplanted, into the Palestinian boy from Gaza, to save his life. And they say you know who will get your boy’s kidney? It will be a boy from Gaza, from the place that dispatched the terrorist that killed your son. And he says, yes I know and I want to do it. I want to do it, so they’ll see who we are and we’ll have peace. We’ll start with this boy and his mother. That’s how we’ll build the peace. So they do the transplant and the boy lives.And you know what the woman says? She says it on television so the whole world can see it and hear it. She’s not ashamed. She says, you saved my son’s life and you Jews have a right to be angry about what I’m going to say. That’s your right and I don’t care. Because now that you’ve saved him, when my son grows up, I want him to become a “Martyr “ and kill Jews, as many as he can! That’s who we’re dealing with and the whole world hears her and says well you know, you’re stronger than they are so , you know that’s okay that’s the only way they can fight you. But we don’t want to fight them. We want them to live in peace and let us live in peace! And they shout it from the roof tops that they want to kill us and when one of them blows himself up, whether he kills Jews or not, their parents hand out candy and celebrate. If they kill a few Jews, they hand out more candy.  But as long as he tried to kill Jews that’s the main thing. Then you can hand out the candy. Then they’re happy. So when I see a woman on the television and she’s crying because her child has been killed in this war, I’m a woman, my heart aches for any child who is killed, it’s awful but I think to myself, if this is the woman who wants her child to grow up so he can blow himself up while killing Jews, while trying to kill me or my mother or my brother or my neighbor, what’s the tragedy? Is it that the child didn’t live long enough to kill me? Is that the tragedy for her?! Or is it that she’s afraid that if she doesn’t raise him to kill Jews the Hamas will kill her, or kill him. It’s insane!! Do you hear that? It’s insane” Again she holds the sides of her head as if her skull is about to explode; as if it can’t possibly contain the insanity of it all.

“And we don’t hate them! “ She says, “ Do you understand? We don’t hate them. We had good friends in Gaza. We know there are good people there and what kind of chance does a child have there to grow up NOT to want to kill me? That’s all he’s raised with, rocket and guns and hand grenades. They dress their toddlers up in suicide vests and take pictures of them. That’s like their Purim costume , their halloween.  Isn’t that cute? Isn’t that sweet? He’s a little suicide bomber. Here we’ll take his picture and send it to grandma so she’ll be proud. We know they have a gun to their heads. But what should we do when they come to kill us? When they pop up out of the ground on our front lawn and want to kill us? What should we do? And the world blames us because not enough of us are dead? That’s the crime? We built too many shelters for our people while instead of building shelters for their people they build terrorist tunnels to come and kill us? That’s our crime? That we spent money we don’t have, that we should have spent on education, to build the iron dome which saves us from their rocket attacks?! And still we warn them first . We drop leaflets and send text messages and call them on the phone and say listen, we’re very sorry but we have to bomb you in a few hours so in order that you shouldn’t be hurt could you please leave? That’s what we do. And Hamas puts a gun to their head and says no, go up on your roofs and they celebrate their murders and they lie!! My God how they lie! Here did you see this picture?”

She opens the internet and shows me a picture of a Palestinian family; father mother and child, all killed by an Israeli bomb strike. Except she shows me that this is really a picture of a SYRIAN family killed by Assad’s forces, in their civil war.“ That’s really bad luck, huh? “ she says, “ To be killed twice? Once in Syria and again in Gaza!? And the world sees it and they don’t care. They open up their wallets and say here we have to give them money so they can rebuild. Like they did after 2009. You Jews destroyed their homes. They need concrete and steel to rebuild. They’re not going to make bombs out of concrete and steel. So the world pays for it and we let it in and no, they didn’t build bombs out of it. They built the tunnels that they dug to come and murder me and my family and my neighbors and their families. That’s what it went for!  Did they build shelters for their children? Did they build schools for them? They hid their rockets in the UN schools! The UN just said it. That’s who we’re dealing with! And they fire them from mosques and crowded neighborhoods and WE’RE the aggressors? We’re the evil ones and they’re the poor victims?!  Egypt offered a cease fire and we said YES. What’s that expression? Learn to take yes for an answer? We said yes! But they didn’t have enough dead babies yet. Not enough dead Palestinian babies , not enough dead Jewish babies. And the world looks and it doesn’t see. That’s what makes me ill. Not the rockets. Not even the tunnels and the terrorists. The world looks and it doesn’t see or it doesn’t care.And we tell them and it doesn’t matter.It’s like trying to empty the ocean with a tea spoon. It’s insane.”

After a few moments she calms down." I’m glad you’re here,“ she says, “I just had to get that all out. Just had to say it to somebody. Somebody who would listen. With all the Tsuris (troubles), you know what? We’re not going anywhere. This is our home. Not just our country. Our home. And everyone in it is our family. I go to bed at night and I can’t sleep because I hear the gunfire and I think of those boys out there and I know they’re fighting for me! And here I am in a nice bed. Thanks to them."

“The Pizzas are ready” Mama Rachel says and gives me a slice and then calls  to the “boys.”
 
“Boys” she says, “Here , eat while it’s still hot”.

Later I am with a Golani officer. Some of “The Boys” had come out for a few hours rest. How were they doing?

“We’re strong. The guys are excellent. We’re going to complete the mission. We’re going to destroy the tunnels, and we’re going to put a serious dent in Hamas’s day (loose translation) and we’ll be victorious. Because we know what we’re fighting for. We’re not Nato.We’re fighting for our homes.”

Golanchick is an endearing term for a member of the Golani Brigade.
 
“Golanchick,“ I say, “If you want to get a shower and some rest and maybe some pizza, I have some dear friends. The woman’s name is Rachel.”

Dan Gordon
Capt. IDF (Res)