Recollections From the Previous Conflict

Facebook sent me a reminder of a post that I wrote on this day two years ago, at the start of Operation Protective Edge. Reading it, I was struck by sadness and realized how relevant my words still are. Same game, new name. And I suppose this is the way I feel about this conflict, too, this familiar tension like we’re all sealed in a pressure cooker together, this new wave of terror, both at home and abroad. And this is what I wrote, edited a touch:

I’m tired. 7 million people are carrying the weight of a country on their shoulders. It’s a burden not made less heavy when shared. I feel like Prometheus, regenerating by morning only to have the worry and pain and doubt gnaw my insides to shreds by nightfall. In retribution for what? What have I done?

Every day I receive what I’ve come to call “The Final Phone Call Before” from someone who’s very important to me. Every day I fight tears because they’re going to have to fight much more than just tears, in this looming war.

I’m afraid. I have not experienced a fraction of what others have, but when I do hear the occasional air- raid siren, I’m set to shaking. Even those who are strong enough to hide their fear are afraid. How could we not be? The enemy’s objective is to strip us of our lives.

There can be no comparison to our persistent functioning, only examples of it. Like the tears that well up but don’t fall, like the people who wake up every morning and go to work, like the children that keep playing games even in the shelters. When can living stop being an act of heroism and just be life?

I never knew how many things start out sounding like sirens. Motorcycles, car horns, babies crying, adults yelling. The whole country is so jumpy that the ambulance sirens were changed to sound less like air- raid sirens. But despite that, I am not worried about us collectively. We’ll be just fine.

We are a people whose fate is in our own hands. We protect ourselves. All grown men and women have had their turn, all boys and girls will grow up and have theirs, and there are those who stand sentry now. There is not a single person in this country who doesn’t have a brother, father, son, husband or friend who is away. They protect us with their lives. They are of the people. And they are the ones for whom we worry to the point of nausea, insomnia, insanity.

These words drip onto the screen instead of those tears I promised myself cannot fall. What I am attempting to resolve is the question of why. Why must we go through this? Surely even the sinners among us don’t deserve this nightmare. And when will it stop? And who even cares but us? How will it end?

For there is no war without sacrifices on the winning side. However if there should be even one casualty not only would that casualty be a felt as a loss, but for us would turn the outcome of the war into a loss. After all, how does one define a victory? If we should willingly stride again into the same battle knowing the outcome will be the same. And we, the people, wouldn’t.

Those who point fingers at us, from around the world, and accuse us of rejecting peace- that is the only proof I can give you. When a body loses a limb, the pain is felt and is unendurable by the entire rest of the body. We are that body, and in battle, bodies lose limbs. War hurts us more deeply than it does any other nation. Because this is the only country that this nation has, and its people are its defenders.

And so we cry tearlessly, fear soundlessly, pray inside each and every one of our souls that we will not be further backed into this corner. And I, personally? What can I do? What can I do but continue to write, and choke back sobs whenever he calls me to tell me it might be the last time we speak? What can I do but continue to dream of a better future, one of peace, of love, for us and the entire Jewish people?

Absolutely nothing, and so I am tired, afraid and worried. And the enemy’s hate that makes me so, along with 7 million other people, will continue to go head to head with our love. Their cowardice will continue to lose to our pride. They will continue to hate us more than they love their own children, and we will continue to offer our own lives for our children. We will continue to nurture our hope, and our prayers, that they will all come home to us. Because what happens after that is the answer to why we continue to fight.

We fight so that the children of the future will continue to be proud of and to love their country. We fight so that we can pass on our values to them. We fight so that they will be good people, strong people. We fight in the eternal hope that this time is the last time.

About the Author
Batya came to Israel at a young age, and upon graduating high school served in the Coordination Desk of the IDF's Foreign Press Branch. Batya is fluent in Hebrew, French and English and works in translation and public relations.
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