Accepting responsibility for Israel’s security

June 20, 2010 - 8:29 AM by · 1 Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, coexistence, Crime, General, Israeliness, Life, War 

Adjusting the new berets for the Karkal graduates

It was a little ironic that on the day my daughter was ‘graduating’ from her six-month basic training to become a full-fledged soldier in the Karkal unit which patrols Israel’s border with Egypt, the news on the radio was reporting an incident on the border in which Karkal snipers killed an armed infiltrator and wounded several others at the border.

“Oh, great,” I thought, this is what she’s going to be doing now, as the asimon fell and reached my brain for the first time, filling it with a mixture of pride and trepidation.

Later, during the short, moving ceremony at the Nahal Memorial near Pardes Hanna, the commander of the brigade referred to the incident when describing the responsibilities the graduates were about to take on.

When he said that a unit on patrol had killed an armed terrorist attempting to infiltrate, the gathering of parents of family applauded.
At first it seemed somewhat awkward and inappropriate to me, to be clapping for someone else’s demise – even if they were setting out to likely commit murder themselves.

But, as I reflected on it, I realized that it hadn’t been a bloodthirsty venomous ovation, but sort of a muted, reluctant show of recognition that this kind of job has to be done and our children are the ones who have chosen to do it.

The cheers from the crowd when the ceremony ended and the one-time recruits threw their brand new green berets in the air were much more lusty and heartfelt. As long as that order of moral clarity exists – where achievement and initiative takes precedent over killing, gloating and destruction, our society, for all its faults, isn’t doing too badly.

In the paper the next day, we read that that ‘terrorists’ shot at the border had actually been armed Beduin drug smugglers. It only contributed to the notion that my daughter’s job for the next couple years is not going to be an easy one – not for her physical stamina nor for her moral compass.

On the front

April 22, 2010 - 1:35 PM by · 1 Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, General, Israeliness, Life, War 

Do I have a warped sense of reality from living in Israel? I was starting to wonder.

Earlier this week, I sent out to friends and family in the US a link to a short video news story my friend Arieh produced for the Media Line news agency on Karkal, the mixed men-women combat unit that my daughter is currently training for.

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Arieh traveled down to the border with Egypt where Karkal units patrol on foot in camoflauge, guarding against terror attack and infiltration. And he spoke to the soldiers doing the job, where they explained the dangers involved, as well as what it was like in a mixed unit.

In addition to being proud of her, I thought everyone would appreciate learning about the life she was going to be leading for the next two and a half years, once she finishes her training.

But a couple comments I received made me start thinking about the whole issue of raising children and sending them off to be in harm’s way. Maybe it’s not something to be proud of, and we’ve just been conditioned by the military nature of our surroundings that it’s a good thing we send our kids off to do.

But leave it to my wife to bring me back to this side of the Earth. We didn’t ask for enemies, and if nobody volunteered to do these dirty, dangerous jobs, then most likely, Israel would not be around. I think it’s probably difficult for an American or any Westerner to understand the daily threat facing us, and comprehend the importance of our sons and daughters having to be the front lines against that threat.

So, yes, I hate the idea of raising children to become soldiers and placing them in life-threatening situations. And yes, I’m totally filled with pride that my daughter chose her path in Karkal, and that she’s spending her army service defending her – and my – country.

A scoop in the family

February 8, 2010 - 11:28 AM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, coexistence, General, Israeliness, Life, Religion, Social Justice, War 

Elinor Joseph with my daughter (not shown). Photo: Ma'ariv

I think my children know that I make a living as a journalist – but sometimes I’m not sure.

My daughter, who’s currently in basic training in Karkal – one of the few mixed men-women combat units – was home for Shabbat. In passing, I mentioned that a photographer friend thought it would be interesting to come down and do a story on the unit.

“Yes, Ma’ariv was here this week talking to Elinor,” she said matter-of-factly, referring to one of the Hebrew tabloid daily papers. “I guess she’s the first Arab girl to join a combat unit.”

“What? You have an Arab girl in your unit?” I squeaked. “And you never told me? That’s a great story.”

“I guess it is – it’s in Ma’ariv today,” she told me, as we went online and saw the huge photo of Elinor Joseph in battle gear and camouflage.

The story described how Joseph, a Christian Arab living outside of Haifa, has excelled in the unit. She labels herself “Arab, Christian and Israeli” in that order, and received special permission from the IDF to take her uniform off and put on civilian clothes before reaching home, in case any of her neighbors don’t share her allegiance to the state.

My daughter said that she’s ‘one of the guys’ and is ‘hamoodi’ (cute), and aside from a slight accent in Hebrew, nobody would ever know that she wasn’t one of the other Jewish Israelis in the unit.

That’s great, I told her, but next time let me know before I read about it in Ma’ariv.


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