Sunday, July 30, 2006

Was There An Alternative?

Israel is getting attacked on all sides after bombing a building and killing 60 people, many of which were children. But honestly, what were we supposed to do? Rockets are being shot at us, purposely, from that village. We could either
A. listen to all world leaders and do nothing, and allow them to keep shooting rockets and keep killing us,
B. send in ground troops, which would take weeks of planning, all while we're getting bombed, risk the soldiers lives, and try and take out the Hezballa hidden amongst the civilians,
C. drop leaflets urging all civilians to leave, send out radio messages urging all civilians to leave, and then, when everyone should be gone, bomb the buildings that we are being shot from.

If anyone would choose anything other than C., I feel bad for them. I feel bad that they have no respect for their own lives, and the lives of the people around them.

My Brother-In-Law, The Soldier

We spent a very enjoyable Shabbat with my parents and all the Israeli members of our family at the Kings Hotel. Brilliant idea, Shabbat, having a day to relax, when you can't follow the news. It really helps lower the stress. I recommend it to everyone.
After Shabbat my in-laws came over to drop off some food. While they were here my brother-in-law Yosefi called them, so we were able to talk to him. We hadn't heard from him in over a week, since he wasn't allowed to bring his cell phone into Lebanon with him. He was a bit in shock, after being in such real battle. His friend lost a leg after an enemy soldier threw explosives at him. A commander was killed earlier in the week. He couldn't give us details, but he had taken part in this battle. When we spoke to him he was back on our side of the border.. I spoke to him about the nine soldiers that had been killed, he was friends with one of them, Shimon Dahan הי"ד. (Shimon's older brother Meir is also a friend of mine, he was part of the same group in the army as me and Amichai הי"ד.) He seemed a bit weary after such an intense week, but his morale is high and he is ready to go back in and destroy our enemies.
May God guard Yosefi and all the other soldiers that are out there fighting to keep our country safe!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Friend's Funeral

I went to the funeral of Amichai Merchavia today. It was in Eli, the city that he grew up in and loved. Many thousands of people were there, many of them who knew him from the army, from Yeshiva, from Eli, or others whos lives he touched. Some spoke about his famous smile, others about his desire to help, his love for Torah. Natan Sharansky spoke about how sad it is that soldiers die, but we have to keep going on, and we have no choice but to win the battle. His mother told us how wonderful of a son he was, never complaining, always helping, and always with a smile. Who could ever forget his smile?!? But the two most moving eulogies were from his friend in Yeshiva, and his father. His friend told stories about him, how much he loved Israel, how important Torah and the army was to him. The friend was talking to him once about what the actual mitzva (commandment) of living in Israel is, and is it really a mitzva today? Amichai jumped up and yelled at him, it doesn't have to be a mitzva! It is our teva (nature) to be here! It was the only time he ever heard Amichai yell. He believed so much in the importance of buiding Israel that he bought three olive trees and planted them in an orchard in the settlement. They were roommates, and he cried, "I always saw Amichai laying on his bed with a sefer (book) before going to sleep. How can I see him now laying in a casket!" He told many stories, about conversations they had, and trips they took. There wasnt a dry eye when he had finished. After the eulogy, we went to the cemetery for the burial. Then the father spoke. "I spoke to Amichai last week, and I asked him if he was afraid. He said the only thing he was afraid of was not being the best officer he could be, and letting his soldiers down. He never thought of himself, only of other." The father went on and said, "my son died protecting this country. And while I'm heartbroken, I know he died for a good cause, a cause he and we believe in. Defending Israel. And this war must go on. We can't quit until we've won. And I thank you, all you soldiers out there watching out for us, I thank you and I praise you." Such powerful words from a man who had just lost his son, not to blame the army, the government, and to even praise them. I was amazed at his strength. And then we stood outside the cemetary in two rows and as the parents and their remaining children walked by, we all said "May God comfort you amongst the rest of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Friend Is Gone Forever

From the first day we met him we called him "the officer". He was very precise with his words, always to the point, always somehow knew what was going on before we did. We were a hesder unit, made up of a few different Yeshivot. He was the only one from Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, and he instantly became a leader. Amichai Merchavia from Eli. The first Shabbat we were in the army, we were given the weekend off, but two soldiers had to stay on base. We all looked at each other, no one wanted to be the guy stuck there on our first weekend off. But not a moment passed before Amichai's hand was in the air. "Ani mitnadev", he said. I'll volunteer. Those words defined who he was, always volunteering first to do the things no one else wanted to do. It became a matter of pride to try and volunteer before Amichai. We were stationed in and near Eli for a few months, and constantly went to his house for good food and company. We saw then where he acquired his wonderful traits, of always looking out for and helping others. At our "tekes kumta", the ceremony upon finishing training, he received an award for "chayal miztayen", most excellent soldier award. No one was surprised, and no one deserved it more. He left our unit to go to commander training, and after to officer training, as we all knew he would. He strongly disagreed with the Disengagement from Gaza, and was very torn about being in the army while it went on. He wrote a letter to a high ranking officer, letting the officer know how much, and why, he disagreed with the disengagement. Six months later he was punished for the letter, and lost his command on his unit. I saw him then, when he was still an officer but in command of nothing. He was depressed, but told me that he still had people on his side and he was going to get back in. I didn't hear how, but I was happy when I heard he was given command of another unit. I knew it was what he wanted. The army was his life. He was very religious, never compromising on anything, and knew all the Halchot as they relate to the army. He was an inspiration, a natural born leader, someone people enjoyed learning from. The last time I saw him, he gave my wife and I a ride home after we had spent a reunion Shabbat with our unit. I offered him to come in if he would like, but he wanted to go over to his Yeshiva, across the street, to talk to his Rabbi. He said he would try to come by later, but in the end couldn't. And now he never will.
We made a yearbook after we finished training. One of the columns was "Where we'll be in twenty years". We said Amichai will be the Head of the Yeshiva of Eli. It would have been perfect for him. He loved beng in control, and was good at it. He loved Torah, loved teaching, and was an excellent leader. He loved Israel, and he loved our people, and he was willing to give up anything to help others. In the end, he gave up everything for others. He will never become a Rosh Yeshiva, but he has already taught us the lesson he held most dear.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Where Have All the Young Men Gone, Long Time Passes

My friends called me on Friday
"Zacks, where are you?"
"At home. Where are you?"
"We've all been called up for reserves. We're on our way North. They didnt call you?"
"Apparently not."

So I called their reserve unit.
"Excuse me, my entire unit got called up for reserves today, but I didn't. Any reason why?"
"You're not in my computer"
"Can you put me in your computer?"
"I dont think so."
"Who can?"
"I dont know"
"Is there someone I can talk to to find out what my deal is with reserves?"
"I dont know"
"Whats the number to the main reserves office?"
"I don't know."
"What do you know?!"
"If you get a call telling you to be somehwere at a specific time, then you've been called up."
"Thank you so much for your help."

On my way to take a test today, I passed a friend from my class, sitting in uniform at the bus station with his girlfriend.
"So, you got called up?"
"Yeah. Your on your way to take the test?"
"Yeah. I tried to go to reserves instead of the test but they didn't take me."
"Too bad. I wanted to take the test but instead I have reserve duty."
Long silence.

I get to the test, and overhear a conversation.
"Hey, where's Avi?"
"Also Rafi?"
"I don't know, probably."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Stressed and Annoyed

Ahh, the stress of having a brother in law in the army "somewhere in the north" but refusing to tell us where. Especially after reading the news tonight.
I was looking though the Hebrew blurbs and thought a new world leader decided to jump in who's name I didnt recognize. I clicked on the link and, of course, it was Shakira, telling America to end the war. Thank you Shakira. What is wrong with everyone? Why is that news??
My internet hasn't been working well recently, so I went to my ISPs website. They have a note that says (translated) "As a proud Haifa company, we will continue to give service and support from bomb shelters and worker's homes. We are sorry for any delays. With hope for quiet in the North, Netvision is here for you."
Just another little way Hezzballa is pissing me off.
I'm going to sleep. Maybe things will be better in the morning. Yeah right.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Brother, The Refugee

A few years ago one of my older brothers emigrated to this Holy country with his wife and four kids, to live the dream. While most American immigrants move to American communities, they opted to move to the fertile northern Galilee, a beautiful green mountainous region. They became members of their community, learned Hebrew the hard way, and their children flourished. All was happy for the Northern Zacks'. Then, last week, the Katyushas came in. At first, they refused to leave, deciding to weather out the storm. But the storm got worse, their house shook from the rocket's explosions, and their bomb shelter was too small for a family of six. So they decided to take a day off, to let the kids run free for a bit in a more secure, central location. They intended to go to work the next day in Haifa, and then return home. But at work the next day they had to run down to the bomb shelter numerous times, until they decided to escape to Jerusalem. Having not returned home, they were stuck with only the one change of clothes they had originally brought. They are now currently seeking shelter in Jerusalem, where my brother can work and his family can roam free. We met them tonight for dinner, they seemed well if not a bit frazzled. Child number four was very happy to run around non-stop. They have no long term plans, but may stay out the remainder of the war in Jerusalem. For more on the Refugee Zacks', click here.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Quick Update

Shabbat was very nice here in Jerusalem. It is very nerve wrecking not to be able to hear the news for 25 hours. Especially with Northern Brother and Fam living in Maalot, which has been hit a few times already. He spent a lot of time in their bomb shelter over the weekend but thank God is fine. Brother-in-law is also on the border as a soldier, he wont give us any specific updates other then that Shabbat sucked and he is fine. Please pray for him and all our other soldiers...We saw Recent Oleh Brother and Fam on Shabbat, they seem to be adjusting well to living in a country constantly under attack. I have a test tomorrow on war strategy, I think I'm learning more from the news than the actual material...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

You've Got The Wrong Blog

I've been getting a lot more hits than usual, and I realize this is probably becuase everyone is searching for what's going on here with keywords like Israel Lebanon katyusha, and so on. All my information comes from here here ,or here, so you can just read it from there instead of me updating. If you want a good blog that has all the news from our side updated, click here. For all the news from a Lebanese side, click here.
We've just ended one of the more meaningful fasts. All day today Jews have been fasting to commemorate the 17th of Tammuz, a day that marks many tragic events in our people's history. I've never felt the meaning of some of the prayers til now "Our Father, our King, remove pestilence, sword, famine, captivity, destruction and plague from the children of Your covenant." Captivity, a fate on par with death. for some, it's worse than death. At least death brings with it closure. The family of Ron Arad hasnt had closure yet for twenty years! Dear God, please bring back home our three soldiers, Gilad Silat, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, plus our other MIAs that are still out there. Make us victorious over our enemies and put the fear of You in them.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Please Understand, Lebanese Friends

I should be studying but here I am glued to my computer waiting for news updates. I found a very interesting blog, by Labenese people who are against Hezzballa. I feel very bad for them. Their country is being held hostage and they are going to be paying the price. Until now I thought of Lebanon as a sort of extension of the Palestinians, but they are very different. The Pals elected a terrorist group by a large majority to rule over them. Whatever the terrorists than do has the people's support, and I find nothing wrong with punishing the people for it. In Lebanon, Hezzballa is a minority faction who, apparently, are not well liked. I do hope that while we retaliate, they understand that we have no other choice, and that they blame the terrorists among them and not us. We cannot sit back and allow this to happen unprovoked. We cannot trade prisoners, as that would encourage more kidnappings. We cannot allow our soldiers to be held hostage, and not fight for them. What would that say about how much we value our own men? And we certainly cannot have all our northern citizens sleeping in bomb shelters. So we bomb Lebanon, and innocent people will get hurt. And the world will forget that our soldiers were kidnapped and jkilled and our cities are being attacked, and they will condemn us. But hopefully one day Lebanon will understand that all we want is a border with them like we have with Egypt and Jordan, and that it will be beneficial to all of us.

No, They Haven't Called Me

I've gotten this question a lot today, so here's the answer to whoever hasn't asked yet. Yes, I am signed into reserves. No, they haven't called me. If they do, I will let y'all know.

3 tests down. I passed the highest level of Hebrew, which is kinda sad since I really don't know grammar at all. Another 6 tests to go. The next test is in a class called "strategy", I don't know what this has do with my degree, but it's all about war strategy. Could be useful.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Finals Finals Finals

It's finals time now, til the end of the month, so I will probably not be blogging much til after they are over. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

My Premiere In Real News

The Dallas News quoted my blog in a section they have of opinion blogs taken from all over. They contrasted mine with one from a Palestinian from Gaza. Jameel was just talking about how he blogs to promote aliyah awareness, and while I really just started blogging cuz everyone else was (hence jumping on the bandwagon..) I am really happy to see that I can assist us in the propaganda fight. Here's the contrast, for those too lazy to go there and see it themselves...

Every time there's a terror attack, we feel the pain. We think that there's nothing worse then this. And each time our enemies strike again, twisting the knife a little further. A pregnant mother and her four kids, murdered. A father and his daughter on the night before her wedding, murdered.

And then it gets worse. A soldier kidnapped, and then another boy kidnapped. We sit and wait, frustrated by our inability to do anything. ... The army is back in Gaza, ... arresting the enemy leaders, bombing bridges ... I don't care. ... All I wait to hear is the news I haven't heard yet. Where is [hostage Gilad Shavit]? How is he? When is he coming home?

Stillruleall, Jerusalem

The operation against Gaza is continuing. It is 1.30 a.m. [Wednesday]. The Gaza Bridge has been destroyed. The jet fighters are still in the sky hitting many targets.

The Gaza power plant was hit by at least seven missiles. I can see a big fire from my window and hear the sirens of emergency vans. The gunboats started shelling, too ...

Things are clear for me. The military operation in Gaza aims to destroy the infrastructure completely, to end up with no government, no [Palestinian Authority], no negotiations with Palestinians. Peace is not Israel's goal.

Mona El-Farra, physician in Gaza City, Occupied Gaza Strip