The era of Israeli heroes is over. You will no longer hear stories of heroes such as Yoni Netanyahu and his role in the June 1976 operation in Entebbe to free hostage aboard a hijacked AirFrance airplane. Nor of Israel’s most decorated soldier, Ehud Barak, who played important roles in Operation Isotope (the mission to free the hostages on board the hijacked Sabena Flight 571 in 1972); the 1973 covert mission Operation Spring of Youth in Beirut (in which he was famously disguised as a woman); Entebbe; among many others.
However, the lack of stories of Israeli heroes is not because there are no more Israeli heroes – there are many soldiers whose stories deserve our praise. There are no more Israeli heroes because such stories of heroics will only land Israelis in The Hague.
As I watched “American Sniper” this past week, I couldn’t help wondering what would be the reaction if the story told was about an Israeli sniper.
Let me start by saying that the world deserves to bow their heads in respect to Chris Kyle. His illustrious military career saved the lives of countless people.
And Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of his biography only helps document the difficult decisions all soldiers face. No solider goes to war wanting to kill. Soldiers go to the battlefield to protect lives; the lives of their fellow soldiers, the lives of those taken hostage by the enemy, as well as the lives of their families back home.
Image a book detailing “Israel’s most lethal sniper in Israeli military history with 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable kills.”
Imagine the story of an Israeli sniper seeing a mother attempting to throw explosives at his brothers in arms. He shoots her to neutralize the threat, to save his comrades, only to see her young son attempting to finish the job his mother failed to accomplish.
Imagine if these two individuals were included in the “confirmed kills” of the sniper.
I can see the headline now: “Israeli sniper kills mother and son”
I can already read the contents of the subsequent article: “An Israeli sniper shot a mother and her young son during the Israeli incursion into Gaza. The Israeli soldier is said to have 160 confirmed kills and 255 probable kills.”
I can hear the screams of condemnation and calls for an inquiry within Israel.
I hear the shouts of those in the United Nations calling for a fact finding mission, the same voices who support destroying Israel and her citizens.
I see restricted travel for the sniper due to calls for his arrest and talk about a trial in The Hague.
I see the life of one soldier restricted and constrained because he did his job in protecting his comrades on the field of battle. It was a battle begun by enemies of the State of Israel whose sole objective is the murder of Israelis and the destruction of their state. I see his fellow soldier hesitate for fear of being labeled a murder because of their efforts in preventing an imminent attack on their fellow troops.
I see the world’s refusal to allow Israel the right to self-defense. I see the end of the Israeli hero.
The world has created a situation where Israel is the only country in the world who is not allowed heroes. Even though the Israeli army trains with countries from around the world – including the United States, Greece, Canada, among others – and shares their code of ethics. Israel’s soldiers are not allowed to protect their friends on the battlefield chosen by their enemies.
Israel does not choose to fight her attackers among schools or Mosques or hospitals. That is where the enemy has chosen to do battle and where they chose to launch rockets towards Israeli civilians. Israel is forced to do battle where the enemy hides, among a civilian population. The self-proclaimed enemies of Israel want the world to do what they cannot: limit the ability of Israel to act in self-defense.
I think of the scene in the movie in which Chris Kyle is speaking with the Navy doctor upon his return:
Navy Doctor: Would you be surprised if I told you that Navy has credited you with… over 160 kills?
Chris Kyle: [Hums]
Navy Doctor: Do you ever think that… you might have seen things or… done some things over there that you wish you hadn’t?
Chris Kyle: Oh, that’s not me. No.
Navy Doctor: What’s not you?
Chris Kyle: I was just protecting my guys, they were trying to kill… our soldiers and I… I’m willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took.
Chris Kyle: The thing that… haunts me are all the guys that I couldn’t save.
Why must the soldiers of Israel need to live with the haunted nightmares of those that they weren’t allowed to save because the world can’t face up to the real criminals, the ones who start the wars and launch rockets at Israeli cities, the ones who can’t face up to their responsibility to negotiate an equitable peace with Israel? Why isn’t Israel allowed to have heroes like Chris Kyle who can protect their fellow soldiers and all the people of their country? Why must the next generation in Israel wonder where all the Israeli heroes are and where have they gone? Little do they know is that Israel is filled with heroes, the greatest of whom must stay silent in order to continue to save others, including themselves.