Don’t Worry, Dad, I’m Okay

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At five thirty in the morning last Wednesday, my husband was awakened by a phone call from our son, Noam, in Beer Sheba.  “Don’t worry, dad, we’re in our safe rooms at home and we are okay.” He made the call because the sirens went off, after a missile came perilously close to that city’s population center.  This was one of more than 50 that had been lobbed at Southern Israel from Gaza in the last several days.

My daughter in law, Ali, who commutes from Beer Sheba to Hebrew University then got on the bus to Jerusalem, only to find that, later in the day a terrorist attack occurred just a few miles away from where she was, at a bus stop, which she often uses. The attack , the first within Jerusalem in several years, killed one woman, Mary Jane Gardner, 55, and left dozens wounded, some critically.  Another phone call was made, that same day.  The message was:  ” If you hear anything about a bus bombing in Jerusalem, don’t worry, I am okay.”

This is life in Israel.  The people in Israel know what they are up against. They know that they are living in the midst of an earthquake, one that is far more volatile than ever. They are well aware of the dangers of living on this shaky ground. But they are plucky and self reliant. After each terrorist attack or bus bombing, they pick themselves up, clean up the damage, and live from day to day.

They know that now, more than ever in the past, there are rivaling terrorist groups, like marauding neighborhood gangs,  that are itching to have Israel get into the fight. They know that in some of these terrorist gangs, Jewish blood is a trophy that they use to hang on their wall to gain respect in the ‘hood.

They are well aware of the dangers brought by the long tentacles of Iran stretching into every terrorist group. Iran is engaged in death by a thousand blows through their systematic support of terrorism, as it is also engaged in Israel’s ultimate destruction through one nuclear attack, which they are working assiduously to create. They know that according to the latest IAEA report Iran has already compiled 3,606 kg. of low enriched uranium, (that we know of), and might already possess the nuclear warhead mechanism to deliver them.

They know that the ultimate moose head hanging on the wall, the trophy of finally achieving a “World Without Israel”  would win the Islamic Republic prestige within the rivaling Sunni and Shiite world, and will finally settle a primordial, tribal feud for the mantle of Muslim leadership that they have been fighting over for the last fourteen centuries.

They know that Iran has provided training to Hezbollah, just north of their border, and 50,000 to 60, 000 missiles to their bases in Southern Lebanon, aimed at every single city in Israel, and that Hezbollah is a little antsy for a little Jewish blood, as well.  They understand the old Arab adage that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and that Iran has also been providing money , weapons and training to Hamas controlled Gaza.

They know that the over 50 rockets fired last week from Gaza into Southern Israel now have have a much larger and wider trajectory. They landed in a kibbutz, in Eshkol wounding one man and causing sever property damage. The attacks have forced schools to be temporarily shut down in Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beer Sheba. Child psychiatrists have been reporting frequent and sever symptoms of trauma in the school age population.

The Israelis know the international court of public opinion holds Israel to a standard that would be impossible for any other nation of the world to live with, and is scrutinizing their every move. They are well aware of the stakes of military engagement. They know that if Israel decides to retaliate against Hamas, to discourage this sort of wanton terrorism against their people,( which they have every right to do according to international law and Article 51 of the United Nations Charter), the Palestinians will use their people as human shields and launch rockets from heavily populated urban centers.

They know that there will be UN resolutions condemning Israel just waiting to be introduced, and that there will always be people who will see a moral equivalency between my son and daughter who were awoken at the night by terrorism, and the Palestinian use of crowded urban settings from which to launch their missiles, so that they can hide behind their own people as human shields and maximize the collateral damage is Israel is forced to respond.

They know that there has been a two year period of relative quiet coming out of Gaza, and that is only because Israel did respond with force in the war with Hamas controlled Gaza of 2009. And they acted with considerable restraint.

Which bring me to my daughter, Rachel, who is going out seriously with a young American who is serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, in the Golani brigade. Rachel’s boyfriend, Jeremy, just made aliyah,  last week, and is proud to wear the uniform of the IDF. He is now being prepared to go from house to house, in case the command comes to re-enter Gaza.

He is willing to do this not because he seeks death, but because he values life.

Which brings me back to my other son, Noam, a medical student in Beer Sheva who has volunteered for a magnificent, humanitarian organization in Israel called,” Save A Child’s Heart Foundation”. This organization delivers highly sophisticated cardiac surgery, totally free of charge to any youngster around the world that might need it. They have already operated on 2,553 children from 43 countries around the world. They also run a clinic every single Tuesday at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv for Palestinian children who need cardiac care, where they save the lives of children not only from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, but from Hamas controlled Gaza.  According to their website, nearly half the children that have been served by Save A Child’s Heart Foundation come from the PA, and over 1200 Palestinian children have undergone Open Heart Surgery, since the organization was founded in 1995.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah was quoted as saying at a Graduation Ceremony, “We have discovered how to hit the Jews where they are most vulnerable. The Jews love life so that is what we are going to take away from them. We are going to win because they love life and we love death.”

Wrong—-Sheik Nasrallah. That is why we are going to win. You have underestimated the ability of our people to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, pick up the phone, and say, “Don’t worry, dad. I’m okay.”

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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