Categorized | Kamin_Ben_Rabbi, Middle East

What Israel lacks 47 years after the 6-Day War

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

ENCINITAS, California — When the Six Day War broke out on June 5, 1967, no one really expected Israel to survive.  Knowing that several Arab nations were sworn to murder the Jewish state, rabbis were consecrating hills in preparation for mass burials.  Israel’s stunning, lightning victory and its bittersweet acquisition of the West Bank, Gaza, and Sinai (since returned twice to Egypt) gave the Jewish people a fleeting hope that peace would reign at last.

Not so.  But Israel lasts; its people crave normalcy and fun out of the permanent danger and isolation.

Visiting my birth land twice in recent times, the reality and poignancy of Israel have made imprints on my heart. Maneuvering emotionally between Tel Aviv’s gleaming skyscrapers and the spoken fears of the elders under intermittent siege in the south, one realizes again the gripping drama of this unique nation.

In March 2012, I knew that the Hamas terrorist syndicate was again firing missiles at and into the towns of Ashdod, Gedera, Beersheba and the region.  My now departed mother lived in a handsome retirement community in Gedera while several cousins and their children still reside in the nearby seaport city of Ashdod.

None of these folks are part of a military complex nor is Israel presently in an armed conflict with the terrorists that run the Palestinian splinter in Gaza. These people just want to go to school, jobs, coffee houses, the malls, and they don’t want to constantly flee to bomb shelters or fortified rooms.

My late mother and the other retirees still living in Gedera have enjoyed their sunlit porches with views of the Judean hills; they delight in the scholarly lectures delivered in the media-ready theater complex on site; they paint, sing, read, compose, stretch at yoga, and argue over politics.

These people have seen decades of war and terrorism perpetrated by the Arabs; not a few have lost sons and daughters in combat or suicide bombings; all of them marvel at and celebrate Israel’s stunning achievements in the sciences, technology, fine arts, education, and media.

They have heard the wailing sirens and dodged the rockets targeting playgrounds, hospitals, car dealerships, and retirement villages. They still brood and worry about a nuclear Iran, not quite comprehending the concept that they hoped had died with Hitler.

Yet still they retain their stoic vision of a Jewish state that is a haven against the dogged enmity of the Muslim nations now; the Nazis, Czarists, and Romans before.  Their adult children and their grandchildren, brandishing iPhones, digital cameras, and books-on-tablets, arrive to visit in their Volvos, BMWs, and Subarus, having driven from Tel Aviv and Haifa and Jerusalem across a smoothly-paved federal highway system or perhaps the state-of-the-art national railway.

Israel has everything but the peace.

My younger daughter, an accomplished international journalist, lives in this hip and brazenly modern city of Tel Aviv.  In March of 2012,  she fretted and did not want me to head down into the Gedera region day when I sought to visit my mother.  Our cousin, a young mother in Ashdod, was suffering grievously from post-traumatic syndrome under the reign of the deadly missiles.  No one in Israel is immune from the bizarre stress and horror of these daily conditions.

I remember: sitting with my mother one afternoon, I heard the sirens. The sound, like a searing banshee, came through the open balcony doors and somehow sent me back to images of Dachau and the Warsaw Ghetto. Then, in my ears, came the pop of the missile, unseen but proximate. It hissed at the biblical hills with ballistic menace. The public address system came through the intercom in Hebrew: all were ordered to move into secure rooms. I asked my mother, do you want to move into the special, “safe room?”

“No,” she replied, the weight of Jewish history slightly brushing her. “I’m still having lunch.”

June 5 will come and go.  Both of my parents sleep in the soil of Israel.  Israel is awake and forever.

Rabbi Ben Kamin is a freelance writer and author who resides in the San Diego suburb of Encinitas.  He may be contacted via [email protected] 

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