Living in fear
I’d like you to imagine being stripped of your Wash. U. education. Rewind back to your senior year of high school, and be prepared to enter the most rapid transition of your life. It is not college that awaits you, but rather enlistment into the military with practically a guarantee that you will be on the front lines of battle by the end of your three-year required term. You won’t be dealing with stressful matters concerning classes or grades; you’ll be handling questions of life and death. Provided that you are not obligated to serve in the military, you will never be involuntarily forced to consider these daunting concerns. In Israel, however, there is no escaping this duty.
In the U.S. we praise our military members for their dedicated contributions in Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere else they sacrifice to go to and fight for our American values. Israelis share those same values of democracy, freedom and peace. Despite these similarities, the kind of honor that the U.S. and the greater international community attribute to Israel is merely anguish and indictment. Rarely does the media cast the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) operations as a struggle of defense. People also fail to recognize that, as Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, founder of “Our Soldiers Speak,” claims, “no one wants to do it.” That is, the IDF is tasked with the most difficult decisions in the face of terror and is led to take action that it is least willing to commit. Israeli soldiers are put right into danger, defending their territory and civilians from inhumane terrorists like Hamas, who dare to use children as shields. I may add that all their defensive measures are independent, without any international support. From the Intifadas, to Hezbollah missions, to continual rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza, Israel is constantly on the defensive. Admirably, Israel acts alone.
Starting at the age of 18, young men and women of Israel’s populace—black, white, Christian, Arab and Jewish—all come together in holding the responsibility to protect their nation and the ideals it represents. Immediately, they are trained to mature into adults with a powerful rifle in their hands and a mind full of strategies and prayers to stay alive. How often do you see the media covering the lives of these dedicated individuals? I challenge you to look beyond the glamorous media and to refrain from being naïve in the light of headlines that capture the Middle East misfortune. I would like you to consider the lives involved in this ongoing turmoil. Consider the families that live in Sderot that are still dealing with rocket fire from Gaza. More than 325 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel during the third Hamas-Israel ceasefire that began on Jan. 18, 2009, following Operation Cast Lead. Think of the homes and lives that are destroyed because of these Qassam rocket attacks.
As you continue to read and watch sources to educate yourself on the issues, I suggest you apply, as Sgt. Anthony puts it, your “sports fan eye.” Just as you scrutinize sports reports of your favorite team and you come across unbelievable renditions of a game or event. You’re likely to double-check the source immediately, comparing it to evidence on a quick Google search. Next time you read or hear something about the Middle East, consider a reality check, and apply the same mentality, because you very well may be reading a misreport. Finally, while you’re worrying about what tomorrow brings you, think of the Israeli soldiers or innocent people of Sderot who live in fear just trying to live to see another day in peace.