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Entries about war

Are We Afraid to Live in Israel?

War in Syria

Are We Afraid to Live in Israel?

The question that I get asked the most often from friends, family, and visitors is "Are We Afraid to Live in Israel!"

Today is Thursday and therefore massage day. My massage therapist, Jonah Taylor and her husband are immigrants to Israel from Colorado. It is September 2013 and once again the region is "heating up." Jonah and I discussed our respective views about living under the constant threat of war and terrorism. This is Jonah's perspective on the emotions associated with this life in a war engulfed region:

All of you keeping up with the news are aware of what’s going on in Syria - of the instability there. When I lived in Colorado, I was a member of the Multi-Lingual International Club. I knew a woman named Strasia. She was from Syria. She seemed rather friendly until I mentioned my love for Israel. She distanced herself from me after that. She is now back in Syria. I sincerely hope that all is well. The conflicts in this region are felt all around the world.
Since the recent revolt in Egypt and the turmoil in Syria things seems to be changing in Haifa and throughout the country. You can feel a constant sense of fear and foreboding. Things are occurring that promote concern. Yesterday the Israeli government tested the air raid system. People here and throughout the country are rushing to buy gas masks. The Israeli Defense Forces called up thousands of reservists.

Please watch this video:

Maybe they test sirens once a year one way or the other. According to my husband David, for many years in Chicago the city tested the air raid sirens every Tuesday at noon. No one paid attention. The USSR needed to be sure to attack Chicago on a Tuesday at noon. In Atlanta they test tornado sirens on a weekly basis. Since we’ve been here, the first test of the air raid siren was yesterday.

Our view of the Mediterranean allows us to see northward toward Syria and Lebanon. A lot of times we hear fighter planes zooming overhead, but can rarely see the planes. We have been told that Israeli jets bombed arms depots in Syria three times in the recent weeks.

We try to listen to both the English and Hebrew news. The leaders of Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah have threatened to attack Israel if Syria is punished by The United States and other nations for the atrocity of murdering their own citizens with chemical weapons. The citizens of Israel have lived under constant threat of conflict and destruction since the rebirth of the nation in 1948.

Anyway, my husband David told me to always be aware. Israel is officially in a heightened state of alert. David managed to frighten the devil out of me. Obviously, I knew that something like this could happen even before we moved to Israel. It is one thing to understand something in the abstract and another to experience it firsthand. David said whatever Syria or Lebanon or Hezbollah does to Israel, that they will suffer worse damage. It is a small comfort indeed!

I, and most Israelis, feel the same way as Jonah. The constant threat of annihilation has most people in this small and brave nation in a constant state of tension and readiness.

Am I (Earl) and others afraid to live in Israel? Yes, of course the constant fear of destruction is always there and a part of life in this beleaguered nation. Yet, the joys of building our Jewish homeland are worth it to many of us and life does indeed go on.

Posted by eshugerman 23:22 Tagged israel war lebanon haifa syria Comments (0)

New Hope for Peace in Israel/Palestine?

news in Middle East

The horrors of war cannot be described strictly from the aspect of pure physical suffering. How can you ever truly describe in world the loss of a child due to a bomb strike or a parent as the result of terrorism? Tragically, the people of Israel and Palestine have endured more than sixty five years of warfare. The struggle for the control of Palestine started long before the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. One of the saddest parts of this conflict is that both sides have been the victims of injustices from outside of the region. Centuries of foreign conquerors and political exploitation have brought misery to Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze in this part of the world.

Israelis and Palestinians both are fighting for their right to self-determination and security. The constant fear of an imminent outbreak of fighting, children sleeping in safe shelters, parents unable to work and support their families, and fearing for the safety of friends and loved ones has been a way of life in this region for decades. Hopefully, this current round of talks will produce movement toward peace.

I was honored to be chosen by The Focolare, the largest Catholic outreach movement in the world to write an Israeli perspective on the recent fighting with Gaza. Below is the story:

This current round of fighting in the south has been very depressing because of the fact that it had to happen. There has been no political way of getting the Hamas terrorists to stop firing explosives at our civilians.

This, tragically, has been the history of life in Israel since the Jewish people returned to their ancestral homeland in 1948. Many of my friends and neighbors have fought in several wars. Many of them spent their early childhood sleeping in bomb shelters.

I am particularly saddened by the fact that I know many Palestinians through interfaith activities.

Hopefully by the time the fighting ends there will be some important changes in our lives in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. Most of us yearn for the day when the people who have been enduring such rocket fire will be able to live normal lives. The missile attacks have spread from the south to much of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Citizens throughout Israel live in constant fear of missile and terrorist attacks.
Our friends and neighbors in the Palestinian territories are suffering from our need to defend our right to exist. We are all saddened by the deaths and injuries of everyone on both sides of this battle.

We pray that a ground war be avoided. However, no one knows which way this engagement will turn. We are bracing ourselves for the worst, yet still hoping for the best.

Defeat in this region is not an option for Jews. The greatest hope is for a political settlement. Peace treaties will surely involve compromise. Peace will allow our children and grandchildren and their grandchildren to live without fear of being bombed. They will attend their schools safely, without the need for air raid sirens and bomb shelters. We would rejoice to see our Palestinian friends and neighbors live in peace and dignity with us. I am convinced that most Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze citizens in our region yearn for the fighting to end.

Until that day, we in Israel do not despair of the situation, and we make the best of what has been, until now, a satisfying and fulfilling life within the shadow and pain of the constant state of military engagement with many enemies.

Posted by eshugerman 09:58 Tagged israel war peace haifa palestine gaza focolare Comments (0)

Israel, A Nation of Remembrance.

Children in War

I immigrated to Israel five years ago from Colorado to Haifa. What an incredible journey!

Understanding the culture of Israel is a great challenge to many new olim or immigrants. Israel is a nation where the Jewish faith and history are very much a part of daily life. It is a nation where the horrors of the Holocaust are not and must not be forgotten. We remember the destruction of the ancient temples in Jerusalem in our hearts and prayers. "Next Year in Jerusalem" is the prayer that mourns our past suffering, but also gives us hope for the present and future. Tisha B’Av, is a day of evel or mourning in Israel. This day mourns the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and all suffering endured by the people of the Book. It is a day of fasting and other acts of observance. Businesses and schools may be open depending on the type of service or affiliation.

My most satisfying experience in Israel was working in a Moadonit or after school program in my Synagogue, Or Hadash. This was my favorite experience at the Moadonit that occurred during Tisha B’Av in the summer of 2009.

Forty kids aged six to ten enjoyed various summer activities including volleyball, soccer, and dodge ball. The director, Jaffa, also gave a one hour presentation describing the building and destruction of both Temples. We also discussed the Holocaust and Israel’s memorial day. More than twenty thousand Israelis have died in open conflicts or by acts of terrorism since the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948. The Holocaust is almost always in the minds and hearts of Israeli Jews. We must never forget the murders of millions whose only sin was being born Jewish or having Jewish ancestors.

We had a short question and answer period after the presentation. I was surprised that none of the kids asked why we talked about these topics during summer fun time or complained. I asked my two English speaking “friends” in the group Naomi (8) and Shachar (7) to explain everyone’s cooperation. Naomi spent two years in Boston and answered in wonderful English; “most Israeli kids understand that remembering the past protects us in the present and future”. Shachar an American olah agreed and showed great pride in her new Israeli citizenship.

The following day, we had a group of visitors from Boston come to visit the Synagogue. The group was composed of roughly one hundred adults and kids from a sister congregation. We enjoyed dinner together and then went on a tour of the Temple’s bomb shelter. The shelter is an area of three hundred square feet that also includes a separate bathroom, shower, and first aid room. During the second war with Lebanon the twenty kids from our day school and fifty local children spent their days alternating between the shelter and our school facility. Each time a siren wailed the kids and staff ran down the three floors from the classroom to safety. Our previous past congregation president Jesse led the tour and explained to us that many Haifa residents left the city during the fighting but many chose to stay.

Jesse, who is a physician and American born, mentioned to me that my friend Naomi and her family chose to stay.

Posted by eshugerman 13:50 Tagged colorado israel war holocaust jerusalem or tisha b’av oleh hadash Comments (0)

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