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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Simply Broken ... A nation mourns the loss of 3 innocent souls. Togetherness is our future.

The last few weeks in Israel something hasn't been right. A sense that something was missing hung over everything. Travelling to Jerusalem meant seeing the faces of three young souls on buses or on banners, overhearing peoples conversations about our boys and what might have happened to them was commonplace, sitting around the table with my cousins it was the main topic of conversation and all of this whilst knowing some of my best friends were working tirelessly day and night to find Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. Many of them not having slept properly for days whilst putting their own lives at risk to bring about their safe return. The knowledge that some of your best friends are actively carrying out missions and arresting convicted terrorists meant always thinking about them and praying for their well-being as well.

When the news broke about the Kidnapping Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, outside the parents homes and everywhere else throughout Israel to pray in their thousands for the children's safe return. All Israelis share in the understanding that there is a constant and ever present existential threat and so, when something of this nature and of this magnitude occurs it affects everyone. This scenario is different however, whilst I of course cannot condone any form of kidnapping, the kidnapping of three innocent CHILDREN whose only crime was being Jewish, Israeli and trying to make their way home to spend Sabbath with their family is simply incomprehensible. That three children became pawns in Hamas' sick and twisted plan to wipe out the Jewish Nation simply and utterly disgusts me. To think that whilst over 30,000 people gathered at the Kotel to recite Tehilim and share in the nations grief without knowledge of what was to come, indicates the sense of togetherness Israelis share when bad things happen. Seeing the tough exterior which Israelis so often hide behind come crashing down in a flood of tears showed the real, genuine and heartfelt compassion that all Israelis have and share towards one another. The tears people shed were real, these were tears shed and spilled from genuine sadness and sorrow. All the while, on the other side of the spectrum Palestinians were seen celebrating, handing out sweets in the streets, creating a new 3 finger salute and manipulating common images such as the World Cup logo to resemble 3 hands capturing 3 children ... our children. Words cannot describe how sick this makes me feel! How can a people rejoice in the kidnapping of children, celebrate their supposed 'success' against the Jewish State and be so cruel and hateful that they would walk in the streets handing out sweets and parading their 3 finger salute?!!? It makes no sense to me.

All the while I would sit at home, waiting for news, checking English news outlets and seeing how our 3 kidnapped children were supposedly, 'missing' or 'lost' 'Settlers'. By now I am fairly used to media silence and manipulation but everyone around the world, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, knows that taking any child is cruel and twisted. Somehow however, when it comes to Israeli children or Israelis in general the world manages to fall silent, and if not silent at least manage to manipulate the story which portrays these children as 'deserving' of their plight.

On Sunday night, thousands of people gathered in Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv, once again to show their solidarity and support and stand shoulder to shoulder with the amazing mothers of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. The mothers of these children are the strongest people I have ever seen. How they managed to speak out and stand up for what they believe and not just be a bundle of tears I will never understand. Someone somewhere was giving them amazing courage, perhaps it was the knowledge that the whole of Israel was behind them and that there family had grown instantly by the millions or perhaps something greater ... nonetheless, the strength they posses is simply astounding. Unfortunately however, no amount of gathering or prayers saved Eyal, Gilad and Naftali.

Last night they were found, brutally dumped in a ditch not far from the spot from where they were trying to get home. They lost their lives due to the terrorism and hatred which occurs on a daily basis in Israel and which the world somehow turns a blind eye to. The people the world forces us to negotiate with have proven and shown time and time again that they are not capable of talking nor are they capable of negotiation. All around the world the sentiment "We do not negotiate with terrorists" is echoed by world leaders, and yet, it is those same leaders who force Israel into ever increasing failed peace talks. It is time the world acknowledged the fact that Hamas, an internationally recognised terrorist organisation is calling all the shots (quite literally). One thing we wont let them win at and which they also are not capable of is instilling terror into Israelis. Am Yisrael Chai is just as present now as ever, the bond that links us all is strengthened at times like this and so, with that, we wont be struck with terror, we wont fear Hamas and their disgusting perverted way of achieving their dream of cleansing the Jewish state from the river to the sea. But we will stand here, we will stand here united and we will conquer, as we have done time and time again. This became even more evident to me last night, when upon hearing the news I decided to head to Kikar Rabin. Arriving there at 9:40 some candles had already been lit and a handful of people had gathered to sing songs, 4 hours later, and hundreds of people came together to mourn the loss of the brothers they never knew. Sooner or later news crew and press were on the scene and the crowd was growing. I felt privileged to have been one of the first people there and witness people stop whatever they were doing, watching the world cup, having a beer and so on in order to mourn and grieve together. To cry, sing and support each other no matter if they were religious or non religious, left or right wing - it simply didn't matter. People were getting up and speaking and after a while I plucked up the courage to say something in front of such a big crowd. I said something along the lines of:

"I made Aliyah almost 3 months ago, the day after Yom Haatzmaut. I am joining the army in November and that they should all know that Zionism still exists, that Am Yisrael really is alive and that just this summer alone over 320 lone soldiers are coming from around the world to give their lives for the state of Israel because of it. Seeing everyone gather here today gives me the power for the move I am about to make and the knowledge that when I am in the army I am able to protect Israel and allow people to gather here again but on happier occasions means the world to me"

People applauded me, thanked me, hugged me and at that moment in time I knew like those mothers that I was also part of this family. This support network which may not always see eye to eye but when needed comes together in the most beautiful, spectacular and meaningful way possible. It is this family mentality which Israelis have that makes the grieving so much more real, we are all grieving the loss of a friend, brother or son. But more than that, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali all resembled a future generation, the future of three separate Jewish families who we will never know. I still cant believe this has happened, it genuinely hurts and pains me to think what those boys must have gone through in the lead up to their brutal murder. God knows what the right and next move is for Israel to undertake, what I do know is that Israel wont rest until the people that perpetrated this act of terror will be brought to justice and I await this day.A further sentiment from last night which was mentioned by a crying mother and deeply touched me is as follows. Through clenched fists and a face full of tears a mother got up to speak, yelling saying as a mother she is embarrassed for everyone that was sat around singing last night, that 3 beautiful innocent children had to die for us to come together no matter what side of the religious spectrum we are on and sit around and sing songs together. What she saw she said was beautiful and it was something she wish she saw every night, in happier times and bridge the divide between different people. Another person also commented that when we all first arrived lighting the candles was difficult as the wind kept blowing them out but as the crowd grew in numbers and in strengths sooner or later all the candles from nearby supermarkets were bought and hundreds of candles have been lit and aren't going out, when we stand together, not even the wind can stop us. Both these small speeches touched me incredibly and all refer back to the main point of this blog. AM YISRAEL CHAI ... togetherness is our future and we need to work constantly to maintain it and not just come together at the saddest of times.

For people living in Tel Aviv - the group that got together last night are getting together every night to sing and light candles in Kikar Rabin for the Shiva and I highly recommend everyone go.This is the link to their Facebook group

Below are photos and videos (click on the blue wording below) from Kikar Rabin

Shema Yisrael Elohai
Acheinu with a growing crowd ... incredibly powerful

Photo: People gathering in kikar rabin to remember our fallen boys
When I got there only a few people were sitting and  a few candles were lit


1 comment:

  1. A very profound & moving blog. Ronen I salute your insight,compassion & courage.The Jews are so deepy rooted in my heart that it hurts! G-d says Israel is the Apple of His eye. I've been a Christian for over 30yrs. When I first opened the Bible I began in Genesis & not in the New Testament as many do The more I read, the more I fell in love with the Jews. The more I fell in love. the more I realised that they indeed are G-ds Chosen People. Whatever hardships u face, Remember The G-d of Israel is there for you. I will keep you & your brothers in arms in my prayers.Will follow you on facebook too. Blessings to you and those you love. LynB x