One Jewish Soldier, a Chayal

Israeli Tank - Harnik Nati - Government Press Office

How is the Israeli chayal perceived when sights are defined and adjusted by anti-Semitic driven rhetoric and actions?

As we Jews in Israel moved in the calendar year from Yom HaShoah, commemoration of the Holocaust, to Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, and on to Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day, the one Jewish Israeli soldier steps forward, center stage. In doing so, we, Jewish Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora, see with our own eyes the world’s view of the image of the Jewish soldier. The Jewish soldier pictured as oppressor, racist, murderer, pre-meditated actor of genocide and world domination.

“No,” Jews assert. “It cannot be.” “The world knows better.” “They’ve got to be kidding.”

The reality is, they are not joking. No one is kidding.

To where might this lead?

Again to the guilt of Jews for the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus?

To supersessionism, seeing Judaism as fit only for replacement?

To Jews depicted as agents of the devil?

There stands the one Jewish soldier, the chayal, seemingly receiving the nod of the world to defend himself now that the soldier almost has his one Jewish State. Yes, defend yourself, but with a caveat.

Do so as long as you do so with your hands tied behind your back, fighting the kind of war no one has ever been asked to fight, with the slowing down of delivery of weapons defying agreements that were signed into law, with the emphasis for Israel less on victory over the enemy and bringing the soldiers and captives back safely than the humanitarian effort to save the lives of so-called civilians, the guilty as well as the innocent, those who support the enemy’s goal to destroy all the Jewish soldiers, arguing that all Jews, in a way, from birth to death, are Jewish soldiers of the Jewish State of Israel.

Can it be that this image of our chayal holds?

Does this unrecognizable, to us, chayal, ruthlessly fighting an unjust war measure up to the reality being played out in Gaza?

Does that portrayal supplant other past realties: Jewish children of the Warsaw Ghetto,  disembarking of Jews from vans and cattle cars at Treblinka, Auschwitz; memories of the ghettos, the liquidations, the gas chambers, the crematorium, the death marches, those buried alive at Babi Yar.

And before that, has the false chayal representation with his Uzi/Tavor blotted out images of cathedrals and fortresses where Jews hid during the time of the Crusades, where their slaughter was just incidental as the European Christian world made its way to avenge and reclaim the Holy Land from the Arabs.

And along with that, does the faux chayal the world creates shatter the history of the blood libel, poisoning of the wells, treachery regarding the Black Death, the burnings of the Talmud, the burning of Jewish conversos during the Inquisition, the exiles at the hands of the Babylonians, the Romans, the Spanish, the slanders of Jewish ownership of banks, the press, pawnshops, slum real estate, Hollywood, the diamond market, the stock market.

Is the world creating in its own image yet again the quintessential hated, despised, slandered Jew? Shylock, Dreyfus? Mocked in the so-called objective press, in literature through the ages, stereotyped, booed, shunned by thousands at international sports events and song competitions.

The river again runs red with Jewish blood–from terrorist attacks, wars, pogroms, massacres as the attack carried out on the Jewish Festival of Simchat Torah, October 7, 2023, and the year following during which there are accusations in international law courts, houses of parliaments of allies and opponents alike, of genocide, crimes against humanity.

The word, “Jew,” again is allowed, accepted in society, in speech and writing, as a term of derision, as a battle cry against whatever the Jew is accused of as the crime of the moment.

The word, “Jew,” like the word, “Zionist,” elicits lies, raised fists, boycotts, broken glass; “Zionist” evoking the most scorn, dark confusion as to its meaning, “colonialism,” and its agenda, with words such as “occupation,” “expansionist.”

Where will it end?

The Jew, seemingly just so short a time ago, considered accepted, liberated, freed, wonders when did it begin again, can it ever again be different, how quickly it has shown itself to be what it always was and has been.

Now it is the Jewish chayal. The one Jewish soldier. Which Jew is next?

About the Author
Travel, residence in Europe, (Spain, 1968), Central America, Peace Corps USA, (Costa Rica, 1966-68), teaching, writing, (New York City, Washington, D.C., Jerusalem), publishing, (Arc, Voices Israel, Adanna, elsewhere), making Aliyah, 2006, journeying our Land, sharing ideas, feelings, create who I am, Joanne Jackson Yelenik, Elka-Hannah bat Tzvi, a hybrid, thrilling to/grateful for blessings of dear family, friends, people, vistas, thank G-D including delicious great grandchildren.
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