Last time I wrote about being on patrol, it was just after Operation Pillar of Defense. Tonight, as my friends fight Operation Protective Edge, I am again patrolling the Kibbutz fence. My partner, once again, is Dovie – who seems to appreciate the long walks less as he gets older. On my second foot patrol, I leave him to sleep and bring our neighbours’ Labrador puppy Na’ala, who can never get enough exercise.
I take up the M-16, thinking that this is my minimal reserve duty, and puts me in with the “defense forces” we have been praying for. It seems a very small contribution.
The last weeks have been intense, and my feelings have been too raw to write very much. In the weeks since Naftali, Eyal and Gilad went missing, we have gone through so much as a people. In addition, as a family we celebrated our youngest’s Bar Mitzvah, the joy tinged with worry, sadness and fear. Family from abroad joined us, but cut their visits short and I could not blame them. My brother said he was concerned about the airport closing. Another thing to be angry at Hamas for – proving my older brother right.
I go around the other direction this time, starting at the Yeshiva. A week and a half ago, on the fast of Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, we hosted a group of Sufi Muslims from Nazareth there. We finished our fast together, as they completed a day of Ramadan, and then sang and prayed together. It was a moment of hope in this dismal time – a piece of the world to come.
I walk up and around the hill and I can see Jenin, down across the valley. It seems quiet enough, despite the fact that we are hearing that Hamas has called on the Palestinians in the West Bank to rise up. I have been in touch with friends in Ramallah and Hebron, trying to keep channels of communication open. Discussions can be very hard as we live in different worlds, with different assumptions, and often hearing (and believing) different facts.
As I come around the south side I hear the Muezzin call to prayer from Jalabun. It seems early – I had not realized there was a 3:30am prayer. It also seems different, more ominous than usual, but perhaps it is just that the Ramadan prayer is different. As always, I answer with a short prayer. If someone is calling out to praise God, it seems right to respond. It helps me remember that we are all worshipping the same God, even as we fight each other over God’s land.
Saturday night patrol extends to 5:00am (on other nights a hired guard takes over at 3:00am), so on my last time around, the dairy farm is coming to life with the first milking, and as I get out of the car, the manager of the turkey farm is coming out. Agricultural life starts earlier than my old hi-tech life.
Before going to morning prayer, I check the latest news. 2 more Israeli soldiers died of their wounds, Gaza death toll tops 1000, and it looks like the cease-fire has failed. I see no way out of this nightmare but to make peace, but it seems very far away right now.
The sun has come up. May the new day bring some new hope.