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Welcoming IDF soldiers home from war, rejoicing that they are alive… what could be more Israeli? They type of celebration seen in the video below is as Arab as it gets. An older woman sings out in piercing tones words of greeting, words of blessing. The other women join in. To western ears their tone may sound more like a shriek than something welcoming but this is the traditional method of public blessing (the same is done for example at Arab village weddings).

Who are they greeting? IDF soldiers returning from fighting in Gaza, walking down the streets of an Arab village, wrapped in the Israeli flag! The soldiers are THEIR sons and they are greeting them with pride and joy. Racing to celebrate with them outside, with food and dancing (it is traditional to celebrate outside, that way all can join in).

These are Druze. They are Arabs; they celebrate Moslem holidays but have some different traditions (as can be seen in the different clothes the religious Druze wear). Their enlistment rate in the IDF is high and they fight Arab terrorists shoulder to shoulder with Jewish IDF soldiers.

In Israel it isn’t religion, ethnicity or gender that counts. It’s the content of your character and what you think is right that decides which side you are on.

Each time sirens sounded across Israel parents covered their children’s bodies with their own, willing to sacrifice in order to shield loved ones. It seemed the obvious, correct thing to do. Jehan Berman is one of the many parents who turned themselves in to human shields for their children.

Jehan immigrated to Israel from Belgium and now lives on Israel’s border with Gaza. Last week, during a birthday party for his 3-year-old son, a mortar landed just outside the kindergarten where they were celebrating. Unable to make it to the bomb shelter, Jehan shielded his wife and child with his body as the rocket fell and was wounded by shrapnel, which embedded itself into his back.

In this video Jehan explains what happened and why he chooses to stay in Israel despite the danger.

This request is not appropriate at the time of a child’s circumcision. “May this be the hour of mercy” is a request to God to see suffering and heal it, to see the severity of a problem and fix, a request for forgiveness and mercy.

The brit milah is the ritual circumcision of Jewish boys, eight days after their birth. At that time the child officially enters the covenant between God and the Jewish people and his name is announced to the public.

The act of circumcision, marking the completion of the body, is a human act. This signifies that our spiritual, emotional, moral and ethical perfection requires human effort. God cannot do it for us. The covenant with God requires hard work.

This is a very emotional ceremony. It is very common to see the baby’s mother cry during the brit – seeing the physical act of the circumcision is not easy. Awareness of the continuity of generations who have completed the exact same ritual for centuries adds to the emotional weight.

Even so the brit milah is a time of joy. At least it is supposed to be.

Today Erez Yechezkel HaYisraeli was circumcised and given the name his father chose for him. The tears in Rivka’s eyes were probably less for her son and more for her husband, lying next to them in an medically induced coma. Yehuda Yitzhack HaYisraeli should have been holding the baby. He should have recited the blessing announcing his son’s entrance in to the Jewish covenant with God.

Grandfather holding baby Erez

Grandfather holding baby Erez

Instead of purely rejoicing for the newborn, the participants prayed for the father. May this be the hour of mercy. May God have mercy and heal him. May he be able to hear his son, sit up and ask to hold him.

Yehuda had been with his IDF unit, the Givati Brigade, in Gaza. You could say he was fulfilling a different aspect of the covenant – protecting the people of Israel and the land of Israel. 27 days ago he sustained a severe head injury and has been in a medically induced coma since.

The brit is normally conducted in a celebratory location – an event hall, synagogue, a home… Erez Yechezkel was circumcised in the hospital so that his father could be part of the ceremony that is such an important milestone in the child’s life. The medical staff carefully wheeled the comatose father in to the room. The attendees witnessed the circumcision, learned the child’s name and prayed for the father. Joy mixed with sorrow washed with hope.

What is more appropriate than the prayer: “May this be the hour of mercy”?

May Yehuda Yitzchak heal. The doctors say there is hope for him but no one really knows what the future holds. Brain injuries are complex, mysterious even to the most experienced surgeons and very complicated.

May the brit of his son be the hour of mercy for Yehuda Yitzchak, for his family that loves him, his parents and brother (who also fought in Gaza). May his healing be complete so he can be a father to Erez Yechezkel, a husband to Rivka.

How symbolic that this family’s name is “HaYisraeli,” meaning “the Israeli”. Their story is the Israeli story: sadness mixed with joy, sacrifice, love, steadfast loyalty and the strength to bring up new generations. May this be the hour of mercy for the Israeli family – for Yehuda, baby Erez and the entire N

ation of Israel.

As we move in to yet another ceasefire I can’t help thinking that only in Israel can winners also be losers. And that losing can be very dangerous…

How can Israel accept a ceasefire an hour after a citizen is killed by Hamas rockets, others critically injured forcing paramedics to give emergency care under rocket fire (another died of his wounds a few hours later)? Paramedics had to dodge missiles to get to the wounded and treat them while being bombarded with missiles. Struggling to prevent the wounded from bleeding to death, they were repeatedly interrupted – over and over they had to hit the ground in hope that the missiles exploding all around them wouldn’t hit them or re-injure the wounded. The wounded and dead were evacuated under fire. Then, one hour later Israel was told that yes, now there is a ceasefire.

Can you imagine 1 missile in your country? In a single day Israel was hit with 182 missiles. After 50 days of bombardment, thousands of missiles and other attacks. And then Hamas says they are willing to stop.

Thanks a lot.

Hamas leaders crawled out of their holes, bleating that they won, they beat Israel. Middle Eastern logic says that the last man standing wins, (even if his arms are cut off and his eyes are gouged out) so to them, not being destroyed by Israel means they won.

The suffering of the people of Gaza means nothing to Hamas. To them, having no infrastructure and no ability to rebuild without charity from other nations is meaningless.  In fact the opposite is true. Images of suffering people, they have learned, help them get exactly what they want… particularly if Israel can be blamed.

Hamas is still standing but severely weakened. We are told that they no longer have the power to rule Gaza on their own and will need the assistance of an external country that can condition financial support on Hamas’s good behavior. If political pressure can prevent Hamas terror that would be a good thing… Israelis do not want to have to fight, the question is – will this work?

The IDF has eliminated much of the Hamas military and strategic strength – attack tunnels destroyed, weapons caches found and destroyed, leaders and numerous fighters killed. But they are still standing. Hamas has not given up their demands, they only agreed to a break in fighting. Ceasefire does not mean peace, it only means stopping to fire for a while. It doesn’t even include weapons being put down much less “beaten in to plowshares”.

Each and every one of the goals defined by the Israeli government at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge were met. All the tasks given the IDF were completed successfully.

Hamas is still standing only because Israel has not decided otherwise.

Israelis see the IDF’s actions not only as victory against terrorists but also a moral victory in the face of heinous abuse and war crimes committed by Hamas – against Israeli civilians and against the residents of Gaza. To us it is disgusting and reprehensible that the supposed leaders of a society advocate using women, children and mentally handicapped as human shields. The lack of respect for life goes against every grain in our society… Around the world many (who have not studied the facts) accuse and blame Israel but we know the truth. Israel has won a clear cut moral victory and has mountains of evidence to prove it. It doesn’t really matter what people around the world say, we insist on maintaining the moral high ground for ourselves, not so that others will like us or give their approval.

Israel achieved exactly what the government planned. Hamas accepted a ceasefire without attaining their stated goals. So who won?

Our victory will be a peaceful future for our children...

Our victory will be a peaceful future for our children…

The Western mindset says, of course Israel won. The powerful country continued her daily activities while under attack. Military action was kept to a minimum in order to minimize casualties and avoid being drawn into a sweeping military operation. Israel proved that the IDF can destroy Hamas terror infrastructure and could have wiped out the organization had they decided to do so. The IDF clearly targeted Hamas terrorists and their weapons and not civilian residents of Gaza to the point where Gazans learned it is a good idea to adhere to IDF instructions and neighboring Arab countries began blaming Hamas for endangering innocent people in Gaza. Israel and neighboring Arab countries are cooperating in unprecedented ways as many are beginning to see that it is no longer an issue of the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, it is a conflict between jihadists and people who want to live modern, western-style lives. Egypt is, once again, a stabilizing factor in the region. These are all important accomplishments.

The problem is that Israel is in the Middle East. Here it is the Middle Eastern mentality that counts, not the Western mindset. It is popular to say that everyone is the same and has the same ideals and desires but this is simply not true (Hamas explains this well in their statement: “As Israel loves life, we love death.”).

What has Hamas learned?

They attacked Israel and survived. They sent millions scuttling to bomb shelters. Thousands of Israelis evacuated their homes because of the Hamas threat. Their few fighters managed to scare the goliath Israel, teaching all Israelis that no one is safe. 70 Israelis were killed, hundreds wounded. Homes and businesses were damaged, the economy badly hit. Air travel was threatened due to attacks on Israel’s international airport. They proved that the “resistance” still exists, giving those that prefer terror to negotiations an avenue to channel their hopes and desires.  Glorious accomplishments!

Hamas never expected to win. On the other hand, it seems that what they achieved is a step towards actualizing their dreams of annihilating Israel. They attacked and survived. They will live to fight another day. This is their version of winning.

Worse, Hamas can be considered a test case. Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Islamic State and Iran are watching and learning…

Hamas still has missiles. Hezbollah has many more and theirs are more powerful and longer range.

IDF destroyed all the Hamas tunnels they found. What about the tunnels they didn’t find? The idea of using tunnels to fight came from Hezbollah. Israelis in the north of country have reported hearing digging sounds under their homes and people looking across the border have seen trucks moving large piles of earth. It’s not a question if there are tunnels, it is a question of how far they have already dug and finding them before it is too late.

A day after the ceasefire was announced “rebels” (Al Qaeda and their affiliates) captured the Quneitra border crossing between Syria and Israel.  Supposedly “stray” fire has seriously injured an IDF officer in Israel.

Israel’s reaction to attacks on her people, violation of borders, war crimes etc. are carefully scrutinized. The choices made by our government may seem rational, calculated and right. We know that they have information the general public does not. And that the pressures put on them by the world, particularly Mr. Obama have a significant effect. It is just as easy to see their choices as dangerous and irrational considering the “neighborhood” we live in.

The winners seem the loser, the losers are the winners. Maybe. Or maybe not.

The one thing I do know for sure is that a ceasefire isn’t peace. It is only a temporary cessation of fire, a break in the fighting. There is more to come…

Israel is under attack. Children in their homes, sleeping in their beds, are under attack.
Every time Israel attempts to “make peace” this is what we get in return (how do you make peace with someone who wants to kill you?).
These pictures are from this morning…

6:30 wake up call - Hamas rocket hits home in Ashkelon

6:30 wake up call – Hamas rocket hits home in Ashkelon

 

Ashkelon 26.8.2014

The family was sleeping when the sirens went off. The parents ran to wake up the kids but the missile hit their home before they could reach the bomb shelter

 

Imagine this was your home...

Imagine this was your home…

 

Hamas shoots at Israeli civillians from withing their civillian population. This is what the IDF is trying to prevent...

Hamas shoots at Israeli civillians from withing their civillian population. This is what the IDF is trying to prevent…

 

Apartment building across the street - all the windows were blown out... Glass is very dangerous shrapnel

Apartment building across the street – all the windows were blown out… Glass is very dangerous shrapnel

 

Ashkelon 26.8.2014 - outside

This is the picture of a miracle. Although the entire family was in the home, none were in the shelter or safe room, their injuries are light – mostly scratches and bruises.

 

Israel is under attack. Children, in their homes, in their beds are under attack. Every time Israel attempts to "make peace" this is what we get in return...

Israel is under attack. Children, in their homes, in their beds are under attack. Every time Israel attempts to “make peace” this is what we get in return…

They did everything right,
They got married, had a boy.
He was bouncy and fun, wise beyond his years.
He taught them to love, taught them to be good parents.

They had two more children.
They played with them, looked after them.

One day it was no longer safe for their children to play outside.

Warning sirens announced the danger.

Responsible parents, they taught their children what to do when the sirens wailed.

Their boy knew to run to the safe room.
Each time they ran, he ran first.
When they were all together he said: “Good now we are all together, safe”
So many times they ran. So many times he said the same thing.

The danger grew, pushing the parents to flee their home.
They were willing to leave everything behind, for as long as necessary, just to keep their children safe.

As they were packing their son was playing in a tent he and his daddy had built in the living room. Outside it wasn’t safe but he could play in the living room… right?

Again the siren wailed.
Mommy grabbed baby, calling the other little ones to the safe room.
The boy, her precious boy, turned to call the younger one and froze…

BOOM!!

It only took 3 seconds to ruin a family, to leave them with an image of horror forever seared in their minds…

They did everything right. Everything except one thing.
They were born Jewish, Israeli.

**********************************

Daniel Tragerman 4 yrs old

Daniel Tragerman 4 yrs old

This is the story of 4 year old Daniel Tragerman, killed on Friday afternoon when a mortar fired by Hamas struck a car in Nahal Oz, near the Gaza border, sending shrapnel flying into the Tragerman family home.

The mortar was fired near a school that Hamas was using to shelter displaced Palestinians. Daniel’s funeral was held Sunday morning.  Psychologists are still trying to explain to the children of Nahal Oz where Daniel is and why he will never come play with them again.

This is one story.
So far Hamas has fired over three thousand rockets at Israel.

Each time they fire they are trying to create another Daniel Tragerman. 

 

The answer is simple – in Israel.

Some of you may remember Ziv Shilon. I wrote about him in the article: “The stuff that legends are made from…” In a time when the supposed leader of the free world responds to the beheading of his citizens with an intense round of golf it is worth taking another look at Ziv Shilon.

Captin Ziv Shilon with his Givati soldiers

Captin Ziv Shilon with his Givati soldiers

At the beginning of Operation Protective Edge Captain Ziv Shilon (who was seriously wounded on the Gaza border) wrote a message for his soldiers:

This is why I was so hard on you in during training. From the beginning of this night I feel my heart is torn! I am so sorry that I cannot be with you, my lions. I am sorry! Sorry! Sorry!

Make me proud. Act in the name of God and you will be successful. Fulfill your mission and come home safe and sound! Tzabar battalion, Givati Brigade and all the IDF warriors.

As I told you in our conversation last week, the day the Shivah [ritual morning period] honoring my mother ended and I came to you, in the (battle)field, to be strengthened by the children most important to me in the world – you: “Today you are the biggest stars in this nation and everyone’s eyes are on you. You are the guardian angles, this time it is your turn.”

Leadership, inspiring role models and real life heroes exist. You just have to know where to look…

*************************

Read more about Ziv Shilon: The stuff that legends are made from… http://wp.me/p6uuI-2D

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