Monday, January 5, 2009

Time to Speak

I'm sitting here in the Library at HUC trying to study for my exams. Why am I not able to focus? Well other than the normal internet related distractions like facebook and hockey scores, there's a war going on in my backyard. It’s been on my mind since the whole thing started two weeks ago. I'll never be able to forget exactly where I was when it happened.

I woke up in the morning on Kibbutz Yiftah ready have latkes with my friends to cure my awful hangover. As we grated potatoes we switched on CNN just to see what was going on in the world. Turns out the sky was falling down on top of Gaza. Suddenly all across the Garin area of the Kibbutz cell phones were ringing. Not calls from parents or friends but rather calls from army superiors telling their soldiers to skip the laundry and be on the first bus back to base. Just like that a week vacation for some or just a weekend off for others got canceled. It was a stark realization to everyone there.

Reports started to filter down to us as to which units were being called up and where they were headed. It sounded like a dance of line cutting and shifting. I wasn't quite sure what to think, I just wanted to know if my best friend was going to the border or not. Luckily at the time it was just air attacks and he would be going back to his training base to finish his advanced training. He was still on track to receive his colored beret on the 15th of January. I even talked with his mom about how excited I was to see them again.

Fast forward to this last Saturday evening. Strolling Ben Yehuda street with my friends visiting on their Birthright trips. Everything seemed ok, until we heard the news that the ground invasion had begun. I heard conflicting reports about numbers involved, injured, and thankfully at that time none dead.

Now the picture is becoming clearer as to what is actually happening in Gaza. Dozens of IDF soldiers have been injured and one has been killed. The operation is expected to be long and difficult here and there are few who will not be affected in this small country that I love. It’s hard to write about, but I do know people who are directly involved. Their lives will forever be changed because of this war. Guys I used to joke with, drink with, play soccer with, and hangout with will simply never be the same.

My best friend's beret ceremony has been 'postponed' indefinitely and his training has been cut short. Luckily he's not heading to Gaza, but the alternative isn't much better. He'll be patrolling the streets of Ramallah or Hebron for awhile. He may not even be able to get leave to see his parents when they come.

My heart is saddened for another generation of Israelis who have to know war instead of peace.

So here I sit in the HUC libray, trying to learn some trope for an exam tomorrow. Hard doesn't even describe how it is right now.