08 November 2005

Am Yisrael Chai!

The Real IDF: A photo essay by IDF Dave, a reservist in the Israeli Defense Forces or ZAHAL.

Every time I see real photos of Israel (not the crap you get off of AP of crying terrorists looting bombed out cars) I can't help but feel some sense of shalom about it all. When I visited Israel exactly 7 years ago, I remember the day our tour guide announced that the U.S. Embassy had issued a warning, urging American tourists to leave the area. They issued the warning after Clinton decided to bomb Iraq, which was, I believe, a tactic to get media attention away from the perjury scandal. Our guide asked us if anyone wanted to leave and we all thought it was a ridiculous question, because we knew there was nowhere safer to be than Israel. (This after we'd just visited an army outpost in the Golan.)

Despite the terror threats and attacks, Israel truly is a safe and happy place to be. In a recent survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel, and posted a couple days ago on Israpundit, "82 percent of adult Israelis claimed to be 'very satisfied' with life in Israel. Of those surveyed, 52% believed that their lives would improve over the next few years. Among Israelis aged 20-24, an overwhelming 89% responded that they were satisfied with their lives."

There's an eternal hope about Israel and about being a Jew. Last week I found myself dug deeply into a mental ditch of despair and frustration over the world situation and the absolute lunacy of it all. So, I decided to throw myself into my work of unpacking a bunch of boxes I hadn't seen since college. In the middle of everything I found a photo I had long forgotten about-- a picture of Jerusalem with a dark rain cloud hanging overhead, however the rainbow that stretched across the skyline indicated that the threat of the storm had passed.

Originally, I'm sure, my parents bought the photograph for exactly that-- the rainbow. Upon further examination, however, I found it odd that a photograph of Jerusalem really had nothing of Jerusalem in it at all. Instead of a shot of the Kotel, or a street in the Old City, the photograph was that of a housing development on a plateau, overlooking what appeared to be the edge of a city. The houses built row by row all had orange roofs; it was a settlement, possibly even Ma'aleh Adumim.

The photograph had to have been taken nearly 10 years ago, before the "Road Map" even existed, before the security wall was even considered seriously. That photograph was taken because a rainbow had passed over the city, a symbol of G-d's promise to never again destroy the earth by flood. The residents in those houses were face to face with HaShem's promise at that very moment; therein lies the eternal hope that comes with being a Jew, with claiming a stake in Israel. Being on the front lines of the battle doesn't mean looking your enemy in the face; it means seeing eye to eye with G-d.

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