From a pandemic to an ‘outbreak’ of mass murder on Israel’s streets
By Jonathan Feldstein
Since the outbreak of COVID, my youngest son has had a particularly hard time in school. He is not unique. Millions of other children have had their education and socializing significantly interrupted. As parents, we have always attempted to do our best to help him to navigate through the past two years’ challenges, admittedly for which nobody could have prepared. However, as quickly as the pandemic fell upon us closing down so much of our lives, conversely, its lingering consequences – like the cough I still can’t shake weeks after my own recovery – remain and continue to impact us adversely.
Like many schools and many teachers, despite the best intentions, there have been a multitude of failures, and many things have slipped through the cracks. This week, my wife and I participated in a Zoom meeting with many other parents in his 11th grade class, concerned that the school has not done its job sufficiently. As bad as it is for any children to have lost so much academically, for my son and his classmates, this year is a particularly critical year not just for their education, but regarding their upcoming compulsory military service which is a cornerstone of their futures in Israel. The school’s failings have not served their students well.
While under the circumstances of Covid, this was not abnormal and our experiences hardly unique, there was however an element of our discourse that was entirely unique to Israel.
About halfway through the meeting with each parent expressing his or her concerns, one mother suddenly interjected to excuse
herself, revealing that her nearby community was under lockdown – not because of corona but because of a terrorist infiltration. Whatever our concerns, hers was more immediate and everyone shared in her anxiety. We all expressed our concern as she hurriedly left the meeting to return to her family.
Worrying about corona is one thing; worrying about terrorists looking to kill you and your family is quite another!
And then, in typically resolute Israeli fashion, we proceeded with the meeting. We’ve learned that as bad as things get – and recently it’s been pretty bad – life must go on. There’s an element of determination and resilience in Israel that’s unique, and connects to the fact that our sons and daughters proudly serve in an army to defend us in everyday life-threatening situations exactly like what interrupted our school Zoom meeting.
Shortly thereafter, my son entered the room not to spy or listen in on what people were saying about his fellow students and teachers, but to report that terrorists did indeed infiltrate his friend’s community. After being seen climbing a security fence and being reported to the community’s rapid response team and the IDF, one of the terrorists was discovered outside a house where he was threatening one of the civilian security team who had just retrieved his M16. Wielding a knife to attack, the civilian shot and killed the terrorist.
With the element of surprise then lost, the other infiltrators fled and escaped. The community nevertheless remained under lockdown as the IDF conducted a thorough search of the area.
This happened in our neighbourhood only a few years ago so we could relate to the frightening drama playing out. While there was naturally panic and anxiety, thankfully the terrorist attack ended without any Israeli casualties.
WAVE OF TERROR
Israel has been undergoing what’s been called a “wave of terror” which has now become more than a wave but a constant flow, with 20 Israelis and foreign civilians killed in the last several weeks, and dozens injured.
We’ve become accustomed to this frightening situation and adjusted accordingly by staying personally on high alert.
The fact that this local terrorist infiltration came the same week exactly a year ago that terrorists from Gaza began an 11-day bombardment of Israel firing over 4000 rockets at Israel’s civilian population was all the more jarring. I remember exactly where I was on May 21, 2021, as the first rockets landed just a few miles to the north, hearing the explosion and seeing the plume of smoke. We were at a family wedding for which my son was released from the army for the day. Following the ceremony, my daughters drove him back to his military base along with my son-in-law who was among the first 5000 reservists called up. So much for a family simcha (celebration) as the four of us drove directly into a war zone that became known as Operation Guardian of the Walls, resulting in 13 Israelis killed and dozens injured.
Some pundits had written hopefully about passing the spring season (Ramadan, Passover, Israeli Independence Day) without an “escalation” but with the current “wave of terror” this “hope” was not to be. We may well ask whether in this turbulent neighbourhood if terror and evil are seasonal?
The start of Hamas firing rockets a year ago took place as we celebrated Jerusalem Day rejoicing in the reunification of Jerusalem under Israel’s sovereignty and with Jerusalem Day 2022 coming up on May 29, what can we expect?
Another cycle of violence on the ground and terror from the air?
Are these destructive cycles so predictable and inevitable?
Barring peace breaking out, we will still be focused on our children’s military service as we realize security incidents and anniversaries like that of this week are not likely to end so fast.
We look forward to a day when peace is a permanent fixture to celebrate on our national calendar.
About the writer:
Jonathan Feldstein - President of the US based non-profit Genesis123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians – is a freelance writer whose articles appear in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Townhall, NorthJersey.com, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.
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