By Shmuel Katz
So our lives have changed a bit for the surreal the last couple of weeks. Those who have read my updates on the 5TJT website or Facebook page already know what I mean.
We are not really scared. There is an element of fear, but not that much. And thank G‑d for Iron Dome. Since the Iron Dome has worked so well, the rockets are pretty much countered. There is always a potential for failure of Iron Dome, especially in the South, where reaction time is critical. Some rockets will get through. We need to end them.
Our personal safety is much less of a concern than our concern for the costs to us as a nation. We are losing chayalim. We knew it was going to happen and there was no other choice. But the cost is bitter and unacceptable, especially because it is all so mindless. The only reason this happens is that the Arab terrorists hate us and want us to die.
We seem to send our boys in every few years to clean them out. Some of them will die, and only we will care. After all, Jew-hating and Israel-hating are what the world has been good at for so long. This time is different only because our enemies, in their blind bloodlust to inflict any damage they can, refused to stand down, thus giving the world a moment’s pause from their continual condemnation of us. And we used that pause.
But the inevitable happened. Within days, the world returned to its normal rotation. Obama’s minion is caught being critical of us on a live mike (hmm, when has this happened before?). The media castigates us for winning (unlike the Arab countries in our region in which the casualties, while outnumbering ours, are high on all sides, which I guess is more “fair”). The world once again wishes we would just disappear.
Yet that lull and the use of the terror tunnels helped make the decision to use ground forces. Knowing we would take casualties, even though there is no acceptable level of casualties for us, we had to go in and eliminate the threat to our southern communities. The world is once again clamoring for us to act the way they think Jews should act. So far, our enemies’ refusal to stand down has meant we cannot stop fighting in the face of continued fire.
It hurts. Each time a casualty is announced, we cry for the families. Their loss is unimaginable. We are a country that celebrates Memorial Day on the very day before Independence Day for a reason: we need to honor and remember those who perished on our behalf before we can even think of celebrating the existence of our country. We mourn, as a unified nation, the loss of every soldier.
I hope that by the time you read this, we have completed our military mission and have stopped the attacks on our people. Hopefully, the diplomats can to try to wrest out of this mess some plan of action that actually works toward guaranteeing the safety of people on all sides of this war. And we hope that maybe, this time, we will not have to send our children off to war again.
When I was a kid, my parents had a collection of various cassettes that we would listen to in the house and in the car. I remember one of our favorites (played at full blast on a Bell & Howell tape player in the back section of our Vista Cruiser station wagon) was a song called “Milchamah HaAcharonah,” by Yehoram Gaon. The song celebrates the sacrifices of all the individual branches of the IDF. And the chorus is a promise to a young girl “that this will be the last war.” I had no understanding of the Hebrew words of the song at that age; I just liked the tune. Now that I do, the message is haunting.
Unlike our enemies, we have no desire to fight any wars. For us, war comes at a horrible cost, one we seek to avoid in any way possible. Yet when push comes to shove comes to rocket launch, we have shown, do show, and will show the fortitude and strength to combat our enemies with all our might, if necessary. We will celebrate our military, because it is they who allow us to continue to proclaim, on a daily basis, “Am Yisrael Chai.” v
Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (www.migdalhatorah.org), a new gap-year yeshiva. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.