Note: If anyone has other posts that they want to share, please send them in. I will be updating this post with additions. Scroll down for updates.
We made aliyah 18 years ago in May, so I am not sure if we still qualify as “new immigrants”. But in one respect we are still newbies – in our involvement in the IDF. My oldest is 19 and still learning (and since he has “frummed out” to the point of black hat, he may never do the army at all. Subject for another post, if not a complete blog!) My other sons are 14 and almost 13 respectively, so the IDF is still some way in the future. Westbankpapa was told, politely of course, that the IDF didn’t need him (we made aliyah at the age of 30), so he isn’t directly involved either.
We live in a yishuv in the Shomron, where most of the men do yearly reserve duty, since they belong to combat units. Watching some of my friends deal with husbands going off to war was difficult. One day, during the Second Lebanon War, as a few of us were sitting in the park, I just blurted out that I felt terribly guilty because I didn’t have anyone in uniform.
A woman sitting next to me gave me a funny look. “My husband isn’t in a combat unit, and my sons are too young also”, she said. “You have nothing to feel guilty about – not every Israeli family is sending their loved ones to war now.”
Another woman also piped up and said, “You know, we really admire the olim from America. You chose to come here, not because you are running away from persecution, but out of free choice. You don’t have to worry about not doing enough.”
These comments made me feel a lot better, although I was still a bit uncomfortable until everyone I knew came safely home.
I thought about this incident for the past three weeks, especially when I read other posts by olim chadashim who expressed their feelings about the Gaza war. Some felt at the “outer edges”, like me, and some were about as close to the center as they could get, sending sons to war. I decided to host a roundup of posts by olim and how they felt.
A Soldier’s Mother does a good job of describing her feelings about sending a son to war. Rutimizrachi does the same, but with the added perspective of a past in the military herself. (This was also published at the OU Shabbat Shalom site)
Benji writes about how normal it was in Tel-Aviv, and how he wanted people from the States not to hesitate to come visit Israel.
Mrs. S. of Our Shiputzim writes about the her daughter’s fears about the future soldiers in her family.
UPDATE: Soccerdad was good enough to send me this post, about the Gaza War and how it reflects the political viewpoints of the younger members of Israeli society today. He also sent me this, which is an excellent first person account from a soldier (and shame on you Ruti for not sending it to me yourself!)