Thank G^d, I don’t know the suffering of losing a child. I have enough empathy to understand that I don’t know of it. These parents are in a class by themselves and there is no comparison. Parents have died from broken hearts after they lost a child in a war. No one can compare. Or maybe just those who lost their best friend or partner. But I’ve been close.
Every Israeli parent who had a child in the IDF knows the 24/7 fear for the knock on the door from two senior soldiers who come to tell parents of a child gone. Also in peace time. Accidents happen always. That fear lasts for some three years, for some five, and for some longer. It’s unbearable but there’s no alternative. It heightens your prayers but you wish it on nobody.
When they leave the army you sigh a big sigh of relief and quickly forget. But it was unbearable. Also if they survived.
Soldiers often contribute so much. So many of their innocent years and mindsets go down the drain in the army. Many start to put on weight. Many start smoking cigarettes. Soldiers have rights, for instance to enough sleep. But did you know that this right is not extended to commanders? While their soldiers sleep, the best of them often need to write reports that leave them with three hours of sleep a night for weeks on end.
Yes, to die for our freedom and safety is the ultimate sacrifice. But it’s not the only one. I’m not even talking about contracting physical and/or mental wounds or permanent handicaps. Which is also not a small thing.
There is also the sacrifice of learning young that you’re just a cog in a giant machine and that what you justly want will need to wait — sometimes forever. To live in an organization where not everything works as you hoped and your voice and the voice of truth and justice may get lost.
Even those who come out well and for whom all friends get out well, also they sacrificed greatly. That should not be overlooked. We must stop pretending that the only sacrifice is the ultimate one.
That’s like saying that if your parents went through the Holocaust you did not suffer enough to complain. Those who survived the Holocaust in hiding didn’t suffer enough to complain. Those who were in concentration camps but not Auschwitz didn’t suffer enough to complain. Those who were in Auschwitz but survived didn’t suffer enough to complain. Only those who died in Auschwitz suffered enough to be worthy of being heard.
We must acknowledge all the hardships our children went through in the IDF, during wars, during smaller operation, and during quiet times. We need to hear their stories and they deserve to tell them. And that includes their parents who often went through hell even without losing them.
On top of this comes the constant threat of ideologies, terrorists and terrorist states that feel a burning idealism to disgrace and murder Jews. This besides all those Jews they actually killed, in Crusades and Intifadas.
We need to include Gentiles who stood/stand with us. From the Druze policeman murdered trying to protect Jews in a synagogue to the Bedouin IDF soldier helping to maintain peace for Israel. From the Christian who is worried for us to the Diaspora Jew whose eyes are on Israel day and night.
And we need to add the unbelievable scandal and our shock and hurt that, also 75 years after Auschwitz, Jews still need to defend our right to live.
Oh, and to those who’d say that Arab Palestinians are the most forgotten casualties of Israel’s independence, let me answer shortly the following.
A. They are not forgotten at all. True, the ones who most harp about their suffering aren’t their friends but rather enemies of the Jews. B. They suffer but not from Israel’s independence. They suffer from anti-Semitic leaders. Their victimhood is largely self-inflicted (I mean, by their brutal leaders). Those who throw in their lot with the Jews, only good befalls them.