Thanks to those who continue to write and ask how we are. I regret not being able to answer everyone individually.
In the past ten years, it’s never been harder to leave, or be away from, home than this week. Leaving home means leaving my family, but also my house, my bed, and the things that make me most happy and comfortable. But when leaving home also means leaving Israel, and when Israel is at war, it’s particularly stressful.
Since arriving in the US, I have witnessed hateful anti-Israel protests. If only the protestors had moral clarity, and protested things like the wholesale massacre of more than 150,000 Syrians, shooting down a passenger jet over Ukraine, the threats to and murder of Christians throughout the Muslim middle east, or any other grave issues that are real and current, one might think there could be something to their protests against Israel. But they don’t, there is not, and what governs their protest is plain old (very old, timeless in fact) Jew hatred. I heard someone say this week that it’s too sophisticated to call it anti-Semitism. Just Jew hatred.
Yet, leaving home to be welcomed by and among Christians who do have moral clarity, who stand with Israel unconditionally, biblically, is heartwarming and makes me feel at home, albeit thousands of miles away.
This week Israel has lost (as of this writing) some 30 soldiers who have given their lives to defend us all. They, and thousands of others, bravely put their lives on the line to defend all Israelis. They made the ultimate sacrifice. It’s also not lost on anyone how Israel’s boots on the ground in Gaza, while the lightning rod for violent Jew hating protests around the world, is also because we value the lives of Palestinian Arab civilians more than Hamas and other terrorists do, because otherwise Israel would be using more lethal and less precise and more devastating wholesale air attacks, and not bother risking lives of our troops.
In Israel, there is no such thing as six degrees of separation. We are close, and as much as Israel is my home, Israelis are my family. I arrived in the US to learn of the death of several Israeli soldiers, two of whom, like me and my family, were American born. Known as “lone soldiers,” a phenomenon that’s awesome and inspiring, hundreds of young men and women leave the land of their birth to come to the Land of their forefathers, to put their lots with the Jewish people, leaving lives and families behind.
But though they are alone in Israel, meaning away from their nuclear families, they are not alone. My family has adopted lone soldiers, housed them, fed them, done their laundry, provided a home and fellowship for them. This week, two such young men gave their lives. Families in Texas and California grieve. I met the parents of another such young man who gave his life in the 2006 Lebanon war. But, as demonstrated by the thousands of people who fulfilled our obligation to provide a respectful funeral, they may have died far from their families, but they were never alone.
Another young man from my community gave his life in combat this week. I didn’t know him, but he was my daughter’s friend. It’s very close to home, but all the losses are. That’s what happens in a country where we sanctify life, and put our children’s’ lives on the line to protect others. I am grieved that my daughter will attend the funeral not just of a friend, but the fourth funeral involving 11 victims of our seemingly timeless struggle to live our lives in our Land. That’s not the thing you want your kids to have to experience, but when each loss is personal, she’s doing what is obligatory. It’s hard not to be home to cold and comfort her.
World leaders are calling for a cease fire, another humanitarian truce, or resumption of the quiet that was negotiated after Israel’s last battle in 2012 to defend itself. Nobody has the stupidity to be suggesting anything remotely called peace. Nobody wants more loss of life, but few I know want to pick up and walk away now, leaving Hamas and other terrorist infrastructure in place to have this happen all over again in a few months, or a few years. If we don’t finish the job, not only will Israelis still be at grave risk from the thousands of rockets the terrorists still have, but from the tunnels yet to be unearthed and destroyed, that start in Gaza but end in Israeli villages and communities, just waiting to be used to carry out a massacre.
Many people have written to me asking how I will get home now with US airlines canceling flights to and from Israel. To me it’s a foolish decision, more about liability in a litigious world than about actual safety. I’ve written that while there’s time to go before I get home, I can always take a flight to Cairo, where it’s “safe” and take one of the tunnels from there!
Israelis grieve as we bury our fallen troops, but stand and remain firm in knowing that our cause is right, that the threats against us are unacceptable, and those who threaten us, or who stand with those who do are morally bankrupt.
The prayers and support are a great source of comfort and hope. It’s important for us, but important that those who do stand with us use every venue and means possible to continue to show support for us, to counter those who stand against us, and to inform those who just don’t know.