Thanks you for your letters. And for writing them in English. I don’t understand all the words, but one of my friends, Johnny, the “chayal boded” from America who spent a few Shabbat with us because he doesn’t have any family in Israel, he translates for me what I don’t know. He likes your letters too. We all call him “Stallone” because of his heavy American accent, and because he’s so eager to go into action to “wipe out the Apaches” as he calls the Hamas. All day long, he badgers the commanders, wanting to know what’s holding things up. He’s like the spring on an Uzi, ready to fire. All of us are.
I’m writing in Hebrew because it would take me all day to write an SMS in English. Sorry I was so groggy when you phoned me this morning. I didn’t get much sleep last night because of the flies. We’re stationed on the edge of the Negev and the flies here are ferocious. I don’t know what’s worse, the grad missiles over Beer Sheva or the flies. Maybe Hashem is sending them to get us out of our sleeping bags and into action. I wish He would send them to Bibi and Barak, so they’d give the orders already. What are they waiting for?
We have a lot of free time here while we’re waiting for the green light to go into Aza, and we talk about the things you have written, in our own way, but let me assure that the moral is extremely high – everyone wants to go in. As you know, we only have another two more months before we finish our service and everyone is happy that we finally have a chance to do something important for the country.
If you were here, you’d think we were off to a wedding, the spirit and joy is so great. Among the soldiers there isn’t any indecision or argument like there is in the media. I don’t listen to the radio anymore because of the talk all day long about whether it’s worthwhile or not to send troops into Aza. This is a war isn’t it? The Hamas is making a joke out of Israel and we have to teach them a lesson. Not everyone here is religious but everyone feels the honor of Israel is at stake. If you ask me, it’s more than regular patriotism. Even soldiers who never studied Torah understand that this is a war of good over evil, and everyone is ready to go into battle with “Shema Yisrael” on their lips. Not surprisingly, minyans are packed.
If we don’t get the orders to go into Gaza, every soldier is going to be very disappointed. I can’t speak about the reservists who have been called up, but our guys are counting the seconds until we get the OK. No one is afraid. Every one of our commandos is like 10 Rambos. Guys aren’t worried about dying. The opposite – they’re dying to get into action.
We learned in Lebanon that we can’t defeat the enemy with our Air Force alone. What’s the point of a truce that will last for three weeks until Hamas fires more rockets at Israel? Why not finish the job once and for all? My unit has been training for almost three years how to wage combat in populated areas. We’re ready. We all know what the dangers are. That’s what our training is all about. We’re not here against our will. We want to do the job. Not just to kill Arabs to pay them back for all the Israelis they’ve killed without any distinction. We want to destroy the Hamas and the Jihad because we all know it’s the right thing to do.
I sense the country is behind us – certainly the people of the south, and now in Tel Aviv. In a way it’s good that finally they hear the sirens there too, instead of just watching the missile attacks on TV.
I invited Yonaton to be with us the first Shabbat we’re free. I know it’s all right with you and Ema. Give her my love and tell her not to worry – even though I know that she’ll worry all the same. Right now, I’m fine, but if this waiting game continues, I may need more socks, and I forgot the cream against foot allergies, so if you decide to drive down, bring them with you. Ema knows where everything is. I’m pretty sure the roads to our base are still open.
Give my love to everyone.
I forgot to ask on the phone – how are Saba and Safta in Ashkelon?
About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. His recent movie "Stories of Rebbe Nachman" will be available soon as a DVD.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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