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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘soldiers’

A Soldier’s Mother: Days that Break Us

Monday, July 4th, 2016

I learned more than a decade ago, that there are days that fill you with strength, and there are days that break you. It’s over, you think to yourself. I just can’t go on. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t take it. Even the anger is not enough to sustain you; even the disgust at how blind others are is not enough to get you moving.

Ten more children have lost their father. When Sarah Techiya Litman’s father was murdered days before her wedding, she rallied not just for herself and her mother and siblings, but for all of Israel. Please come to my wedding, she begged Israel…and we did. So many thousands came that they had to shut off the wedding hall, letting in groups of people at a time as others left. The hall was filled, the outer grounds were filled. At one point, overwhelmed by the number of people waiting to share this evening with them, the bride and groom went outside to meet the people who had come to shower an orphan with love.

On Friday, Rabbi Miki Mark was murdered, his wife critically injured, and two of his children hurt in a terror attack not far from where they live. He leaves behind 10 children. Today, his children asked people to come to his funeral, to become better people, more loving. Rabbi Miki Mark was 48 years old…

Yesterday, Elie Wiesel died. He was 87. Both leave behind devastation and mourning. The death of Rabbi Mark leaves behind such sadness, a huge gap in a family, a community, a nation. The loss of Elie Wiesel leaves us with a void. Who will speak for the survivors now? How many are left? Are we ready to take on the challenge that Wiesel and others warned us was coming. Now it is on us to carry the torch of remembrance; to stand against a world that thrives on forgetting and dismissing the lessons of the past.

When someone who is well known passes away, people rush to post pictures of themselves with the person. It is a way of showing that they mourn, that they were touched by the person we have lost and they want to remind themselves and others of what once was.

This picture is now being posted on Facebook. It is a picture with three main people – all gone. Ariel Sharon, who led this nation to victory and was the essence of power. He was the lion that turned into the lamb; a man who built and then destroyed what he had helped to create. He was a man who forgot the future in the present that overwhelmed him.

Elie Wiesel kept the past with him and used it as a torch to light his way into the future. He led generations with a simple message. Tolerance, acceptance, peace, respect. Be human and be humane. Don’t surrender to tyranny. Fight for life – your own, and the right of others as well.

And finally, Rabbi Michoel Mark, who lived the life these other men fought for – to be a father of Jewish children, to live where he wanted to live in this land. It is both tragic and ironic that Rabbi Mark was murdered on Friday and Elie Wiesel died on Saturday. If Jewish law is to be followed, both will be buried today.

In Israel, we are in mourning for children who have lost a father, for a community that has lost a leader. For the pain of a wife, fighting for her life. Unconscious, sedated, and unaware that her life is forever changed. For their broken children who have called on Israel to come to the funeral and for the hundreds who have.

A picture, frozen in time, of three men who led the world in different ways. Elie Wiesel, as a survivor who chose to live in the United States, but loved Israel and came here often; of Ariel Sharon, who fought for this land as a lion of Judea, and then lost his way and surrendered to feed the monster that has been fighting and attacking our innocents for generations; of Rav Miki Mark, who chose the path of faith to fight for this land, to build a yeshiva where young men came and learned and dedicated themselves to the future.

Thursday, they murdered a 13 year old child in her bed; Friday, they murdered a father of ten. Today, we bury Rav Mark in tears and in pain.

Tomorrow, we will stand up, in mourning and in pain, in anger and faith, we will stand up and do what we have to do. We will be strong…tomorrow. We will not let terror win…tomorrow. Today, for a brief time, we will surrender to our pain, to the pain of a mother who suddenly buries her oldest child, to a summer lost before it began, to the agony of ten orphans who bury their father today and pray that their mother will not leave them as well.

Today, we cry from the depths of our souls.

Tomorrow, we will show them that we are not beaten, that we will not surrender. Ariel Sharon’s way was proven wrong. From the places he gave them, they shot a rocket that hit a kindergarten in Sderot that thankfully was empty. This is the legacy of Ariel Sharon. Elie Wiesel’s path is to remember what they have done to us in the past and do all we can to stop them. And so, generations after the Holocaust, we are still dedicated to remembering, to living with what the Nazis did so that it will never happen again.

And with broken hearts, we dedicate ourselves to the memory of Rav Miki Mark – the path is long but for an eternal people, we do not fear the future. We will stand. We will fight. We will not be defeated. From the earth that was given to us, we will build.

Today, we cry…but we live. Today, tomorrow, and into the future. Moments before this picture was taken, Elie Wiesel affixed a mezuzah to the doorpost of the yeshiva in Otneil. Today, it stands, tall and proud and filled with people. Tomorrow…we will rededicate ourselves to build.

May God bless the memory of Elie Wiesel and of Rav Michoel Mark and bless their memories and may God avenge the blood of all those who were murdered in the sanctity of God’s name.

 

Paula Stern

Missing Soldier’s Mother Blocking Gaza Crossing: If the State Won’t Bring him Back, We Will

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

The mother and family of one of the missing soldiers whose bodies are being kept by Hamas as bargaining chips for a future prisoners-release deal with Israel, took up a position in front of the trucks hauling supplies into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing, declaring, “Now, after the deal with Turkey, we think everything is humanitarian. But if this is the case, how come so many trucks are being let into Gaza and they don’t return my son?”

“We’re trying to stop the trucks with our bodies and we won’t let this go on,” Zehava Shaul stated, adding, “The Israeli government sent my son [to battle] and it is its obligation to bring him back to us. If it won’t do it, we will. What are they expecting, that we’ll sit quietly?”

Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant (Kulanu) told the press that the Netanyahu government is committed to bringing back the bodies, “but the Turkish channel did not fit” the mission.

Last week, the Shaul family erected a protest tent in front of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, declaring that the deal with Turkey was a “mark of shame for the government,” which cares more for the Hamas than it does for her missing son and the other missing soldier, Hadar Goldin.

“I’m going to get my strength together and block [the deal],” Shaul vowed. “I won’t let you move. It will not happen. I promise you, my word is a word.”

Only two months before he was appointed defense minister, MK Avigdor Liberman vowed that his first task in office would be to issue a 48-hour ultimatum to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, to return the two missing soldiers’ bodies to Israel or start preparing to die.

A website measuring how dedicated now Defense Minister Liberman is to carrying out his promise, titled Is Ismail Haniyeh Dead Yet? Has added a clock measuring how much time has elapsed since Liberman has taken office in relation to the corporeal well-being of the Hamas leader. As of the writing of this article, Haniye’s 48 hours have been extended to one month, three days and counting.

David Israel

A Soldier’s Mother: How Do You Eulogize a 13-and-a-half Year Old Girl?

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
Rena Ariel, whose daughter Hallel was murdered this morning, eulogized her:

I am giving you one last hug…I am standing here with a heart filled with pain and I am turning to you, the Arab mother, the Muslim who sent your son out to stab. I raised my daughter with love, but you and the Arab Muslim educators, you taught him to hate. Go, put your house in order…

How do you eulogize a 13-and-a-half year old girl? Tell me what words to use to eulogize a flower, a pure soul, who is courageous and beautiful. Your only sin was that you were almost perfect.

You were a ray of light in my life. You were the one who turned me into a mother.

You [God] gave me a present and now I am returning it to You. Take her. She is the flesh of our flesh. Hug her, because I will never again be able to touch her. Make room for her, so she can dance.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: The ‘Times of Israel’

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

In general, I have never found that four letter words are more effective than…let’s say five letter words or six or seven. It’s always been how you use them, what meaning you create with them and yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the Times of Israel’s best recorded hits will go to those that use four letter words. It seems to be a measure of their journalistic talents…or perhaps a failure of it.

I met a friend in the supermarket today. We spoke of the tragedy in Kiryat Arba today. There are no good attacks, but there are sometimes particularly bad ones. It happened the day after you were in one place, the very day you planned to be there until something changed. You have a child the same age, or with the same name. Somehow, there are attacks that make us bleed more deeply, cry from the depths of pain.

This morning, I heard the first announcements. A terrorist jumped the fence into the Harsina neighborhood in Kiryat Arba and stabbed a girl – aged 16, they reported (she was only thirteen and a half…she’ll never get to be 16). “Oh God, oh God, oh God,” I said aloud in my empty car. I started to cry…I have to call Aliza.

Aliza is my youngest daughter. She is 16 years old. She studies in Kiryat Arba. I wasn’t worried about her. She was safe at home, in bed. My hands were already shaking as I pressed the numbers. By then, I knew the girls name, Hallel Yaffa, daughter of Rena. Aliza told me she was at least a year younger and not in her grade; I told her she was badly wounded. “Her mother is asking people to pray for her. She doesn’t have a pulse,” Aliza told me when she called back after speaking to her friends.

“I’ll pray for her,” Aliza said, “and I’ll pray for you.” Through tears and a broken voice, I told her I was fine and she didn’t have to pray for me. I had to go to a meeting. I had to pull myself together enough to smile and pretend. “I want to pray for you,” she answered, assuring me that she was fine. She knows me, my beautiful daughter and her calm voice helped me in more ways that I could ever write.

After the meeting, I drove to do a quick shopping and there my friend told me about the obscene headlines in the Times of Israel. Why was I surprised by their f*****g apathy to a young Jewish child who was murdered in cold blood in her bedroom?

Ah, her bedroom. You see, according to the Times of Israel, it’s really important to tell you where that bedroom is because, naturally, you can calm down. It only happened in a West Bank bedroom.

And she died. Did you know that? Apparently writing that she was murdered took up too much space. Or worse, it might get you to feel the tragedy more. She died. And anyway, she was in a West Bank bedroom, so really, she probably deserved it, right David Horovitz? Right, Sarah Tuttle-Singer? Right, Miriam Hershlag?

In one stinking article, to make sure you really understand where this terror attack took place…no, I’m sorry, it wasn’t a terror attack, it was a “stabbing attack”, these are the words they use:

  • West Bank settlement home
  • into the settlement
  • her bedroom in the West Bank settlement

And, if that isn’t enough, the Times of Israel wants to add some perspective. There have been 34 Israelis murdered since October 1. And then, wait for it, lest they be thrown out of the left-wing media consortium, they rush to point out, that “Over 200 Palestinians have also been killed over that same time frame, the majority of them while carrying out terror attacks, according to Israeli authorities.”

Well, I’m happy the Israeli authorities took the time to point out that a [VAST] majority of those 200 Palestinian were terrorists. Of course, if there were some that were not terrorists, it is interesting that the Times of Israel doesn’t bother to explain the important detail that the vast majority of those few who were not involved in terror attacks were in close proximity to an attack, but never mind. Integrity and fact have little presence on the webpages of the Times of Israel.

You know, there are days that the anger chokes you. Well, to the Times of Israel Staff, congratulations. I can only pray and hope that Hallel’s parents are smart enough not to waste their time reading the Times of Israel.

Times of Israel? Israel? You know, now that I think about it, you really should consider changing your name. You have no right to use “Israel” – you do not represent this country; you do not speak for it. You don’t even report about it.

A child was murdered today. In her bedroom. In a place she should have been safe. She was murdered by a 17 year old Palestinian. The news was wrong. She wasn’t my daughter’s age, but the murderer was. This morning, Hallel was murdered once by Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah and then she was casually dismissed by the “Times of Israel Staff” who wanted to make sure that you know that had Hallel been in Tel Aviv, Afula, Beersheva, Beit Shemesh, Raanana, and all the other cities and places that were hit by terror in the last few months, they’d care a bit more.

But she was a settler, Hallel Yaffa, daughter of Rena, who will be buried in a few hours. It is rare that I feel physically sick from reading the Times of Israel. It happens often when I read BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, etc. And I bet the Times of “Israel” would just love that because in their self-centered world they probably dream of being that big. But really, a body without a soul is worthless and a media outlet without truth isn’t much better.

The friggin’ Times of Israel deserves all the four letter words it can think to use. And most should be used today, for the staff of the Times of Israel.

As for the real Israel, today we mourn a beautiful girl who was murdered – not because she was in Kiryat Arba, but because she was Jewish. Where her bedroom was is not relevant; that she was in her bedroom, a place where she should have been save, is what matters.

Today, a Jewish girl of only 13 years was brutally murdered in her bed, in her room, in her home. The nation of Israel and those who speak for us, those who report what is happening here, mourn for the loss of Hallel Yaffa and pray that her memory will be blessed.

{ The author’s opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press}

 

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: What Religion Are We?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Apparently, this is a question asked by a child of his mother. I don’t know what she answered him. None of my children ever asked me this question. They have asked me what month we are in…in fact, when my oldest son first got married, my daughter-in-law was surprised that my youngest daughter, then about 11 years old, didn’t know the months of the year.

Aliza responded that, of course, she did know the months – Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev…

What religion are we? Perhaps I can offer this mother the answer that she should provide for her child…

We are Jews – not Jewish, because the “ish” means something like…it isn’t that we are something like Jews…we are Jews.

We are the descendants of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob. We are the children of Sarah, of Rebecca, of Rachel, of Leah. We were lead into freedom by Moses; we were protected as we walked through the wilderness. We created a home, built a Temple and worshiped our God, the One and Only God.

We were exiled and returned, exiled and returned. This is our land. During the centuries we wandered, searching for home, we struggled but survived. We taught our children to read, long before other nations even had an alphabet. We created a just society where the poor are taken care of, the evil ones punished. We have held to laws that demand social justice, compensation for injuries, honoring elders, protecting children. We are Jews.

We have built a land like no other in the world, where kindness…yes, kindness, is an integral part. Last week, a young man directed us to a store and then told us it might be closed. He asked for our phone number, said he would walk there while we drove around the long way and he would call to tell us if it was opened…and he did. Today, waiting in a long line to exit a parking lot, a man waved his arm telling me to lower the window, handed me a cookie, and told me what blessing I should say on it.

When a security guard was attacked in our neighborhood, within a week, over 50,000 shekels (just under $15,000) was raised in days to help his family cope. When a young woman was suddenly orphaned, her father murdered, days before her wedding, she responded by inviting all of Israel to the rescheduled celebration – and they came…from all over Israel, from the United States, even from Australia. We are Jews.

During the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the ghettos, the Holocaust…they hunted us, attacked us, stabbed us, beat us, starved us, humiliated us, shot us, gassed us, cremated our bodies or buried us in mass graves, and still we turned three times a day to this land and prayed. We carried the hope of two thousand years with us. We are an eternal people.

We compromised from the very beginning and so many times since. We do not wage wars against innocents; we do not target babies. We have warned the innocents among our enemies, and our soldiers have paid the price many times and still, we will warn them again in the future when pushed into war. We have sent our sons and daughters to the front lines to fight for this land and more, we have sent our sons and daughters around the world to help others. We are Jews.

We worship One God and believe that His protection is all we ever need. He grants us miracles, often daily, sometimes every hour. The missile hits a room where someone was moments before; it moves to the west, against all odds and misses a building with thousands of people in it. The grenade didn’t explode; the bomb didn’t go off.

We live our lives according to the seasons and the holidays – of freedom, of light, of the harvest, of the new year, of judgment day, of spring, of victory. We are not animals that we eat without thought. We bless the fruits and the vegetables, the bread and the wine. All that we put in our stomach ultimately comes from God. He blesses our fields and they prosper. We are Jews.

We have invented technologies that have changed the world a hundred times over – advanced medical research, telecommunications, security, data. We are a center of hi-tech, innovation, and more.

Our children grow in this land, strong and proud. We march through the streets of our land, unafraid and yet committed to helping others, seeking peace, treating others with respect. Where violence is the rule in many societies, here it is the exception. Crime rates are very low; the quality of life quite high. People are happy in this land; our children are blossoming.

If your son or daughter asks you what our religion is, don’t hesitate to explain. He was born into the religion that was the first to recognize and accept a single God; he has inherited a proud and strong history that stretches thousands of years. He has nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of.

We. Are. Jews.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Facing the Enemy

Monday, June 27th, 2016

When you think about an army and soldiers, your first thought might be about war. Soldiers fight wars, right?

But the reality is that soldiers do so much more, especially in Israel. Here, they are an integral part of our society and the army not only knows this but encourages these thoughts. Yes, God protect them, they fight in wars. But they also patrol the streets and roads of our country, not just our borders, our skies, our seas.

They are often used to help – one day during basic training, David, my son, and his unit were taken to a farmer nearby to help him prepare the ground for planting. What’s the connection? Pretty simple – they work the land…the land they are going to be protecting. They are doing physical work, perhaps using muscles that are different than the ones they have been developing for the last six months. More, they are doing good, showing that farmer, his community and beyond, that the army and soldiers are a fundamental foundation of our society.

Two weeks ago, we traveled south to Givati’s home base for the closing ceremony for his basic training. That’s it…he’s a soldier, fully trained and, God help him (and me) ready for combat. This week, for the first time, the army ignored the soaring temperatures. During training, commanding officers watch the weather and change their plans accordingly. At a certain temperature, soldiers are not allowed to train; at a higher temperature, they are restricted to virtually no activity beyond resting and drinking. If possible, they will train through the night when it is cooler and sleep during the day.

Last week, as the temperatures reached into the upper 30s C (high 90s F), Davidi’s group did what it had to do, regardless. They drank more, they took smaller breaks, but they had to continue. That’s what it’s like when you are stationed at a check point. There is no stopping because of the weather. For the next while, David will be subjected to intense heat in the summer, and then the cold of Israel’s winters. Rain when it comes, though probably not snow. Wind, dust storms…more than a mother can bear to think about.

This all starts next week for real. Last month and for the last six+ months, it was all about training. This week, it was about simulating, learning, preparing. Next week, my son will be at a check point “somewhere” in Israel. The first is a relatively quiet one; for this I can be grateful, at least.

But starting next week, I can no longer pretend he isn’t in danger, that but for the weapon he carries, his fellow soldiers, and the Ever-Watching God of Israel, he is “out there.”

This is the time in a soldier’s service I have come to dread.

For Davidi, it is a relief, a break from the strenuous training schedule. They won’t make him walk tens of kilometers a week, though he will be standing for hours and hours at a time. Where once he called his commander by the formal address of “Mifaked,” (Commander), now they are addressed by their first names. They are all soldiers of Israel.

For me, he has passed through another door – further out of reach than he was before. Closer to our enemies, those who mean him harm. My phone will always be near me; my heart always on alert and afraid. My brain will once again look to the heavens and wonder why hearts are so illogical.

It is a contradiction of life in Israel – that you raise your son to be where he is, only to wish desperately that he wasn’t.

May the God of Israel look after my son, watch over him, protect him. Him and all the soldiers of Israel.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: The Danger of a Politician with a Big Mouth

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

The danger of a politician with a big mouth and a larger ego is that he will place himself and his opinion above the needs of the country. Rather than serve the country, this type of person tends to inflate his own self worth and take advantage of the privileges of office. Worse, he endangers lives and security by offering options that really are not on the negotiating table – most likely because there isn’t actually a table on which we are negotiating and there’s currently only one chair in the room. The chair is marked with the only people willing to be there unconditionally – and that would be Israel.

It has always been recognized that only the standing government has a mandate to determine the future of its people, especially in a democracy. This has been true throughout the centuries; it is true today in Israel. Yitzhak Herzog is a very dangerous man because he believes he is entitled. His entitlement comes through his blood, he will tell you. He is, after all, the son of Chaim Herzog, a general and former president of Israel. He is the grandson of the first Chief Rabbi of Ireland who then became the first Chief Rabbi of Israel. He is, the grandson and son, a rather pathetic and pale shadow of these great men, ever seeking stardom and importance.

To be a thriving democracy, which Israel most definitely is, you must have a strong opposition, unafraid to challenge the path the government chooses to take. What you cannot have, is one that seeks to subvert, undermine, weaken the government, and therefore the country itself. This and much more, Yitzhak Herzog has done in the past and yet again more recently when he took it upon himself to enter negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Who is Yitzhak Herzog to reach an agreement that Israel would surrender land and our capital? He has decided that Israel will pay financial compensation to the descendants of Arabs who chose to run away so that their brothers from five nations could invade the tiny and vulnerable new entity called Israel?

Will he also pay, perhaps out of his own miserable pockets, the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were robbed and expelled by numerous Arab nations? These are the Jewish refugees that came to Israel with practically nothing and we clothed them, fed them, housed them until they were able to pull themselves up and become active, vital, thriving, inseparable parts of our society today. Will Herzog compensate them?

I would expect such idiocies from Barack Obama but I think even he would be surprised at the absurdity of a standing member of the Knesset having the nerve to attempt to negotiate without any power behind him.

Forever ready to twist facts, Herzog doesn’t deny that he circumvented the legally elected government but haughtily declares, “In my contacts with the Palestinian Authority president during 2014, I made efforts whose goal was to reach understandings that would have prevented the wave of terror whose arrival I foresaw, just like I’m making efforts now so that this extreme right wing government’s abandonment of the initiative for a regional conference won’t bring the next war down upon us.”

Really, Herzog? You foresaw a new wave of terror? Gee, after so many previous waves I guess that makes you practically a prophet, huh? Who would have thought that without an agreement of utter capitulation from Israel, the Palestinians would revert to violence again. You’d think after 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982…2001, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, they’ve have learned, right?

And if you think Bibi Netanyahu’s government is “extreme right wing”, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. If the violence continues despite all our efforts to achieve peace, believe me, Israel WILL turn to the right.

Abandonment of the initiative for a regional conference, are you serious? What initiative? What regional conference? The one that is regularly held without Israel? The ones that have been consistently rejected by Palestinians?

There will be another war, on that Herzog is correct. But it will not be brought on by the actions of the Israeli government but rather by the unwillingness of the Palestinian leaders to truly accept that only through negotiations will there be compromise.

But perhaps the best response to Herzog’s inept attempt to thrust his opinion on the people of Israel can be found in the Palestinians’ response to Herzog’s pathetic efforts, “We didn’t treat it as if it’s something that can be implemented, since obviously the one who makes the decision ultimately is the Israeli prime minister.”

Roger that, Yitzhak. You’ve been defeated again.

Paula Stern

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/a-soldiers-mother-the-danger-of-a-politician-with-a-big-mouth/2016/06/22/

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