Once it became clear that Operation Protective Edge was turning into a “full-court press” ground offensive, Anglo olim kicked into high “support” mode. Thanks to our advanced ages upon arrival in Israel, alongside (in most of our cases) a lack of facility with the Hebrew language, very few of my friends were actually called up to serve. Therefore, our part of the war effort consisted mostly of baking cookies, organizing letter campaigns to thank the troops, and collecting money and supplies to send to the front.

Initially, the reports we received were about the lack of basic supplies like soap, underwear, socks, and toilet paper. So, personal care items were dutifully packed into each of the boxes delivered to the bases. But eventually, word came back that what the soldiers really wanted was cigarettes and bug spray.

Now, I don’t like to think of myself as a prude. But cigarettes and bug spray? Really? I mean, don’t they have health education in this country? Don’t we teach our children the harm of exposing our bodies to dangerous chemicals? Hopefully, this war will be over soon. But the habits introduced over the course of a few weeks of high stress might lead to a lifetime of health issues.

“The soldiers need some way to manage stress,” argue their enablers, who demand that we suspend our calls against adding such unhealthy products to the parcels destined for delivery to our heroic fighters.

Pshaw, I say! Isn’t the goal of this war about making life better for the future? Much as we cannot simply battle Hamas to a standstill while leaving their weapons and tunnels to fester like a cancer, only to return even more aggressively further down the road, it is immoral to overlook the consequences of even a short period of contact with substances whose effects have been shown to be both serious and habit forming. And this injunction applies even more strongly when it concerns a group that is primarily made up of the young and impressionable.

It’s true that the conditions near the border with Gaza are leading some of our soldiers to take shortcuts in the pursuit of comfort. However, there are always alternatives. Indeed, our government should be making more of an effort to change the nature of the environment, so that these upstanding men and women do not have to risk their futures even when they are not involved in active combat.

As for concerns about the cost of government intervention, is any expense too great when it comes to saving lives? Israel is the country that made the desert bloom. It is certainly well within our power to construct relaxing and healthful surroundings, so as to avoid a reckless and wanton negligence of our responsibility to our sons and daughters. Personally, I would gladly open my pocketbook to underwrite the expenses of the more healthful alternatives.

In summary, for those of you who have advocated that we send the soldiers bug spray, I hope that you have now seen the light. DEET might be a temporary solution, but it will lead inexorably to permanent health problems. It is now time for this country’s leadership to make bold decisions. We need to explore every option, from terraforming to importing industrial sized quantities of Avon Skin So Soft.

And for those of you who continue to play a part in the depraved push to hook our kids on DEET, I can only pray that G-d have mercy on your souls.