Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Citizens Of The World

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
New Year's Eve:
I sit in my apartment in Beersheba and debate if I should out to
celebrate New Year's Eve.
All of a sudden the siren begins to shout: "color red".

I go downstairs to the bomb shelter in the building, where two families are huddled with their small children, an elderly couple who live on the floor above me and two students all dressed up but now have decided to stay at home.

We all sit quietly listening to the siren as we wait to hear the rocket’s impact.

A few minutes after the explosion, as we all return to our apartments, someone throws out a quip that this year we should meet only for happy occasions.

I return to bed and hear on the radio about another missile attack on Ashkelon.

I say to myself that I hope the missiles do not end up hitting a noisy café filled with people celebrating New Year's Eve, even though there is a slim chance people went out to party in the first place.

At 7 am, the siren goes off again and the same ritual of going down to the bomb shelter and waiting begins.

The same people are in the bomb shelter and exchange banter, as now is a great time to get to know your neighbors.

We hear the rocket impact and wait for the all clear so we can return to our apartments.

Thursday, January 1, 2009:
It is the first day in the New Year and it is already light outside.

In two hours I am supposed to be in my class at the university.

I was supposed to be, but the school canceled classes as they also did not want to risks the lives of the students.
Just like the day before when the mayor of Beersheba canceled school and saved the lives of a bunch of grade school students.

Again, I am on the phone with mother worrying and urging me to come home. I stand next to the window and watch a large number of students getting onto the buses that leave the city.

I remind my mother that at home we are not safer, and for the time being I will remain here.

I sit down at the table and try to work on my physics homework but I cannot concentrate.

The door of the apartment below me slams and it reminds me of the sound a missile has on impact. At this point, all noises sound alike.

I'm glued to news sites on the internet, reading about the IDF operation in Gaza and thinking about the residents on both sides of the border.

After several hours a senior Hamas person was reported killed along with several senior Hamas people.

To quote from the Bible: "בִּנְפֹל אוֹיִבְיךָ אַל תִּשְׂמָח וּבִכָּשְׁלוֹ אַל יָגֵל לִבֶּךָ" כד,יז משלי) Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Proverbs 24:17 and that was my reaction.
I was born in this country, a child of parents who are children of this country, grandson of Holocaust survivors.
I was taught to love the country and love the people of the country.
I served as an Israeli soldier and today I am a student at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.
I am proud to be a son of this nation, one with a moral army.

But I ask myself:

* Does the world know the IDF calls to warn residents before they destroy their homes, because they are used as a storage location for Hamas weapons?
* Does the world know that members of Hamas place women and children on the roof, knowing the IDF will not hit that location?
* Does the world know the IDF worries about being humanitarian and distributes medicine, food and provide medical aid to Palestinians?

* Does the world know that Hamas fires from a largely concentrated area of civilians, which they use as a human shield?

* Does the world know we have a legitimate right to live in peace and secure, that there are sick and wounded Palestinians being treated in Israeli hospitals, and that a growing number have entry permits to Israel despite Hamas takeover in Gaza, the second war in Lebanon, the absuction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the daily attacks on the Israeli civilian population.
* Is the world aware of the 20 cases in which Palestinians took advantage by using health reasons and tried to carry out terrorist attacks?

* Does the world know what conditions the Palestinians live under in the Israeli prisons?

* Does the world know the conditions which our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit is being held?

* I ask myself, where was the world when Hamas took power and slaughtered thier brothers the fatah people innocent civilians?

* Does the world know that since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in the summer of 2005, Hamas has fired more than 6000 mortar rockets into Israeli territory and has struck the innocent civilian population?

Israel has been subjected to severe criticism since the day of its establishment from the International Community, specifically countries like Britain, France and Russia.

These are countries that have existed for hundreds of years and have established their standing within the world.

They, too, are countries that that had colonies either in our country or in the region.
The State of Israel was established 60 years ago and has no desire to become a global empire with colonies, to occupy other lands and impose our language, knowledge and customs upon them.
(Arabic is an official language in Israel alongside with Hebrew. Minorities in Israel have absolute freedom of religion.)
Israel wants the countries of the World and specifically its neighbors to recognize their sovereignty & independence.
That Israel has the right and obligation to provide protection and security for its residents. (Article 51 of the UN Convention, every nation has the right to self-defense against an attack and return a proportional response. Israel has stands by this article. )

There is no country in the world that would abandon its residents and let them live in fear and anxiety for their entire lives.
Just like no other country in the world would stand idly by while being constantly attacked by a terrorist organization, Israel cannot either.

As one learning in Beersheba, a city under fire, with parents living near the line of fire, mother working in Ashdod (a city under attack) and a father who morning wakes up and goes to work in Sderot, a city under fire for over 8 years,
I'd like to turn to the citizens of the world:
The children in America and Great Britain are able to play, travel and enjoy themselves and so do the children of Israel.

Just as Germany and France, parents send their children to kindergartens and schools, without fear for their lives, that too is the right for parents of children in Israel.

In Spain and the Netherlands, the first word a child utters is "Mother", "Father” and we too would like our children to learn “Mother” & “Father” before the phrase “Red Alert” .

Just as in Italy and Denmark the children are allowed to dream and fantasize about the future, so too should the children in Israel have the be able to dream outside of war and simple survival.

Just like the citizens of Czech Republic and Portugal, families can exist with dignity, and not fall in to debt because of their father's business was closed as a result of the security situation, so the family would want in Israel.

Just as Russia, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Romania, and all European countries are able to live a normal life , so too the residents of Israel.

Citizens of the world, wake up!

We do not surrender to terrorism!

If we agree to tolerate this, your children will be next in line!

Friday, 2.1.09:
The second day of the New Year I sit in my apartment in Beersheba, eating cookies that the downstairs neighbor gave out in the bomb shelter, thinking about better times,when i will be able to sign:
Rotem
A citizen of the free world