In a war zone, what is normal and OK are relative terms. All of us have family, friends, children of friends and husbands of friends on one of the many fronts of this war. Akiva came again yesterday, something that he regularly looks forward to every week, while his father is someplace else, away from him, not physically far away, but a million miles away in terms of mindset and mission. Akiva needs “normal”. I need “normal”. While we were working, we heard the Iron Dome interceptors blocking a barrage of Hamas missiles targeted at Jerusalem. No sirens, we just kept working on his electronic project, learning how to solder on pads we made on a circuit board with a hole cutter. Lovely distraction; the best distraction from the abnormal war outside.
I visited Sderot with my friend Dean (ham radio call sign not disclosed), when he came to visit years ago. At that time the Hamas missiles numbered in the tens, and the wreckage of these primitive rockets were collected and stored at the Sderot police station. We went to the police station and found someone who let us look at the racks of rocket wreckage to take a picture. Over 30,000 rockets have been launched over the border since then, with Sderot residents frequently, often many times a day, running for shelters. Many Sderot kids sleep in bomb shelters just to get through the night. For many of them, this has been their normal all of their lives.
Ben (not his real name) turned 13 last week and was looking forward to his bar mitzvah with his friends in Sderot. This is the year that all of the boys in his class become bar mitzvah. It is a year of celebration for all of them. The attack by Hamas on October 7th destroyed the town, murdering many of the policemen in the station and residents on the street. Ben went to his shelter and could not come out. His world was destroyed. Ben hasn’t known a life without missiles, but now his city is destroyed, its residents evacuated, like all of the residents who remained alive, from the Gaza envelope.
Ben’s aunt lives in Efrat. She knew that this was a special week for Ben and that the new “normal” further depressed Ben who hid in his family’s Sderot bomb shelter. She went to Sderot and brought her family to Efrat, abandoning their family home. My friend Shimon, heard Ben read part of his Torah portion (the biblical reading last week was the first chapter of Genesis), in one of Efrat’s many synagogues, and asked him afterwards who he was and why he was reading Thursday morning. Ben told him that he was a bar mitzvah from Sderot, but now this Torah reading, this Thursday morning, was all he had to celebrate. Shimon told Ben that not only would he celebrate his bar mitzvah in the synagogue on the Sabbath, that he would have a big party on Saturday night, after the Sabbath, with his family and new friends.
Shimon, after telling his wife, Yehudis about the pledge that he made to Ben, together they enlisted the community, all of their friends, including me and Karen, to help make the party two days later. As there was another bar mitzvah in the synagogue that same day, the local family agreed to leave the decorations and extra food. All of us contributed as best we could with pizza, cakes, drinks, and presents for Ben. On Saturday night we witnessed hundreds of kids from Efrat, a cotton candy machine, balloons, party favors, music and “MC”, and adult supervision. For the first time in a long time, according to Ben’s aunt, we all witnessed Ben smiling from the shoulders of his brother surrounded by the kids of Efrat who made him one of their own. Ben’s new normal.
Israel is a small country, the size of New Jersey by comparison. If you squeezed the 22 Arab countries that surround Israel and compressed them into a football field, Israel would be a matchbox on the 50 yard line. Iranian proxies Hamas, Hezbollah, and the “Palestinians” do not want our matchbox to exist and spend their money, your money, and our money to work towards destroying Israel, the only Jewish State, and the only democracy on this football field.
Israel abandoned Gaza in 2005, expelling the 9000 Jews, who lived there, and exhuming the bodies of their dead, leaving Gaza completely. We were told at the time by the “experts” and our politicians that creating “self-determination” for Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, at the expense of the thriving Jewish communities in Gaza, was a major step towards peace in the region. The Gates Foundation purchased the Gaza Hot Houses on 3500 dunams, employing 3000 Arab workers, exporters of organic vegetables and cut flowers to Europe, at rock-bottom prices to give to the Gazans - a gift, a “kickstart” of revenue and employment to the new political entity. An opportunity to build a normal and peaceful life on the beautiful shores of the Mediterranean sea. Within weeks after the Jews left, these hot houses and businesses were destroyed by the Arabs in Gaza, literally torn to pieces.
This was a “two-state solution” experiment. An opportunity for the Arabs of Gaza to build their own state to demonstrate that they loved their freedom and opportunity more than they hated us. The residents of Gaza elected Hamas in 2007, an internationally recognized terrorist proxy of Iran with a charter to murder Jews, not only in Israel, but around the World. Instead of building a “riviera” on the shores of the Mediterranean, their own power stations and water treatment plants, their normal was to divert their time, energy, and money (from the USA, EU, and Qatar) into building rockets, rocket fuel, a vast network of underground attack tunnels, and to educate their population, men, women, and children, to butcher and murder the Jews next door in the “envelope”. On October 7th, they did just that.
None of us in this country are far from the “action”. All of us are connected by the bonds of history, family, and shared experiences. There are tens of thousands of Bens who belong to all of us in Israel, regardless of right, left, religious, or secular. That is why we all react like lions protecting our young. That is why, this time, we will destroy evil at its root. That is our new normal in Israel.
73, Eric 4Z1UG