OPINION: Israel has become one big family united behind its soldiers

OPINION: Israel has become one big family united behind its soldiers

Sima Borkovski

By Sima Borkovski in Bat Hefer, Israel

Empty roads and the radio constantly sends out sirens alerts/far from here there are people terrorized with anxiety/my heart is heavy and my eyes wet/because so many smiles/have been frozen and framed by death

This is the 20th day of operation Zuk Eitan and it feels like a nightmare that haunts us every summer. Once again the Palestinians fire rockets at us, once again we have to fight back and the results? Hundreds of dead Palestinians, the city of Gaza ruined, too many young soldiers dead and Israel crucified by the UN.

Nothing is new.  I do not expect these people who live safely in NY or Paris to understand what it feels like when your cities are bombed for years and your hands are tied.

Israel is blamed once again because there are more dead people on the Palestinian side and no one is asking the hard questions; such as where has all the money gone, and why are the citizens of Gaza being used as human shields?

Every morning I turn on the radio with fear – how many soldiers have died during the night?  Their photographs are on the TV screen; so young and beautiful in their smiles and their eyes, so kind and hopeful. It seems only the most handsome ones die.

Funeral of Sgt. Max Steinberg
The funeral of Sgt. Max Steinberg

They must have had so many plans and there was such great promise in every one of them.  And there are also reserve soldiers who leave their families behind. Interviewed on TV, their widows swallow their tears when they talk about their men who will never come back.

“You have left us behind to face an inconceivable reality,” said Pnina, widow of Rami Kachlon,39, who died from his wounds today.   There are already 43 dead soldiers and the burden of grief is so heavy.

I remember how it felt to fear for your husband’s life and cling to the news. This is the first operation in which my husband is not called on duty and I get to experience the war on the safe side.

However, it’s there all around me. When you turn on the radio or TV this is the only subject discussed. And in times of war the country becomes one body. Everyone knows someone who is soldier. My daughter’s friends have brothers who fight in Gaza – even teens are occupied with the war and develop opinions of their own.

When lone soldier Sean Carmely fell in battle and was laid to rest in Haifa, a ‘family’ of 20,000 people, among them my husband, came to pay him last respect. They answered a call on social media to express their gratitude and tell the soldier’s family that they are not alone.

Ariel Horovitz, an Israeli singer, described this in a song- “20,000 people and you are the first/ 20,000 people behind you Sean/Quietly pace with flowers in their hands/two sisters and 20,000 brothers”.

So this is how it feels these days in Israel- one big family united behind its soldiers. Those who demonstrate against Israel simply don’t understand the reality here or simply do not except our existence.

But don’t get confused about the “bad guys” in this story. Even at this minute Hamas keeps firing rockets at civilians and one woman was badly hurt.

No one can stay indifferent to suffering of the people in Gaza . It’s hard to watch the footage of buried people and dead women and children. Most of all I feel great sadness for them that this is the nature of their leaders who simply don’t care for their lives and idolize death.

Raising children in Israel can be a very frustrating experience. My son is 13 and I know that he would have to go to the army as well.

Maybe these summers shall continue to haunt us and peace will only exist in songs.

But at least no one will ever be able to tell us “Jews Out” like they did 70 years ago.




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