They are all former residents of the United States and they are all people who have made Israel their home for themselves and their families. But they are also more than that, they are my heroes—our heroes—people who in their own ways have carved out an important niche and are making a difference for Israel and through them for all of us here in the US.
Anita Tucker is a name you may be familiar with from her trips back here to New York especially during the time that she as well as her family and friends were trying to being pressure on the old government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to stop the Gaza—Gush Katif withdrawal. For decades Anita and her husband Stewart, both from New York, were farmers in the often meteorological as well as politically scorching environs of the Gaza Strip. They were pillars of the community of Netzer Hazani. They did all they could to stop the evacuation. They, actually, we all failed and today we are living with further manifestations and consequences of that fantasy of peace that could come about by demonstrating weakness to terror merchants.
Today Anita and her husband are still living in temporary ramshackle bungalows in what was supposed to be the impermanent community of Nitzan. That was seven plus years ago—so much for a temporary community. In fact Nitzan which is no more than 10 or 15 miles from the Gaza border was considered to be such a transient experience and the withdrawal was so certain to bring an era of unimaginable peace, that no one thought to build any bomb shelters there.
But no sooner was the forcible evacuation of Gush Katif complete that the missiles and rockets started flying into Israel from the peace partners in Gaza.
Yossi Baumol is a Brooklyn boy who made aliya and a difference for Israel a long time ago. His work since arriving in Israel has always been about securing the greater land of the Jewish people for the Jewish people. I got a hold of Yossi last week just as he was boarding a plane back to Israel from New York. It was just about the precise time that Israel began to rev up the effort to finally put a stop to missile attacks emanating from Gaza and being sprinkled all around Israel, especially in the southern portion of the country.
Today Yossi works for the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot—an institution both in the direct line of fire and one that being the recipient of rocket fire from the terrorists in Gaza is unfortunately nothing new. And that’s one of the astounding things about this scenario—the Israeli’s acquiescing to absorbing missiles on its territory so long as it did not go beyond the southern region and as so long as the number of missiles fired by Hamas was within an acceptable and manageable number. And of course if anyone was killed all bets were off. It’s an arrangement that is shocking in its form but still one that Israeli’s were willing to live with. But then, last week it got out of hand.
So when I wake up early in the morning in New York and see that Yossi is online I quickly ask him what’s going on down in Sderot and the other morning this was his response: “Had a few sirens with booms, a few booms without warning, a few interceptions, a few lack of interceptions. One hit on a house in Sderot – no injured. Another boom – no warning.”
And then I switch over to see what David Landau of Standing Together is up to. Davis is a businessman who resides in Gush Etzion, He has provided us with some of the most innovative and fulfilling opportunities over the last few years to interface with the young men and women who make up the Israel Defense Force. We’ve been with him at the Gaza border and last summer at the base near the border with Egypt.
David Landau drives an SUV that has a trailer attached to it that once stopped and opened up at one of his destinations turns into a virtual kitchen bringing much needed refreshments to the young troops. We have seen how these kids react to David’s arrival at these bases or stops. It is more than just the coffee or pizza or ice cream that he brings with him. It is the sense and the feeling that someone cares and is thinking about them that is being communicated using these food stuffs and snacks as an emotional communication device.
On Sunday—the 5th day of the Gaza operation—David said that he tried to get as close to the Gaza border as possible. As reported on many of the Israel news sites most of the roads leading to Gaza were closed so that buses and military vehicles could transport the troops forward in preparation for the ground invasion.