I had hoped to resume these posts with hopeful news. And in fact, there is much to be grateful for. As the IDF uncovers tons and tons of lethal weapons the Israeli army and all of us civilians in Israel were supposed to meet in quite a different way that would have destroyed our country and our families, we can thank G-d that they have been put out of commission in this way.
When seen in this light, we cannot talk about the relative cost of what this war that was forced upon us has cost. The lives of our soldiers, and lives of hostages killed by accident, and if reports can be considered reliable, through criminal negligence and the disobeying of all rules of combat, cannot be measured, nor can the lives of the rest of Israelis undoubtedly saved by our military operations in Gaza, Jenin, and other terrorist vipers’ nests.
We in Israel whose children, parents, and siblings are facing the bombs and rockets in Gaza as part of the IDF, feel entrapped by a reality from which there is no easy exit.
The tragic and infuriating death of the three hostages mistakenly killed by soldiers not following perfectly clear guidelines which would have prevented this from happening, cannot weaken our resolve to continue the vital path on which we have set out as a country: to once again make our borders impenetrably safe for all those who live in the one and only Jewish country in the world. We have that right and we have that responsibility.
The demands of the families of the hostages in Gaza who might still be alive are understandable. However, when they lose all sense of responsibility for the well-being of the entire country and push for solutions that would endanger the existence of our country in order to further personal agendas, we need to take a step back.
Just as the pressure to release thousands of Hamas murderers to free Gilad Shalit turned out to cost thousands of Israeli lives down the road, we need to strengthen our resolve not to give into the same kind of pressure at home we are facing now in slowing down the war in exchange for questionable results from which all of us might suffer without end.
I have a grandson in Gaza. I want him to come home. Desperately. I want him to be with his wife of one year, to continue his studies, to travel, to have children. I don’t want him blowing up tunnels in Gaza endangering his life.
But what I want, is not the same as what our beloved country needs. So many soldiers have fallen, and it is hard to describe the kind of agony the report of each new death spreads in our hearts. But we have to remember that the day we left the initiative in the hands of Hamas, three times as many of our soldiers died than in the ensuing battle since.
Ceasefire, humanitarian pause, call it whatever you want, it all amounts to the same thing: giving the initiative back to the new Nazis. We have momentum. We have an army ready, willing, and able to win this war for our land and our people. We must not waver at this critical moment. Over a thousand of our dead in the most brutal and terrible way possible call out to us from their resting places to keep going; to utterly destroy the insane, barbaric infrastructure of terror we allowed to take place on our borders as we slept sweetly, oblivious in our misconceptions to the true nature of our neighbors’ intentions and demonic activity. We must push through our personal needs and fears, our almost palpable longing to return to normality. We must continue to ignore the constant nagging of Israelis with personal agendas (however understandable), of our shaky so-called political “friends” abroad, of our avowed enemies who urge us to give up, to give in, to go back to sleep.
I admit that during the week of Chanukah, when nine of our finest were killed in an ambush, I struggled. And then I remembered that Mattathias Ben Johann the Hasmonaean, who began the revolt against the Seleucids determined to destroy the Jewish people, was killed in battle. His son, Judah the Maccabee, was also killed in battle . But their revolt and their sacrifice and their courage, which we celebrate on Chanukah, allowed us to continue the story of the Jewish people for more than two thousand years.
And so will the sacrifice of these brave Israeli soldiers, the new Maccabees. May their memories be a blessing, and may their sacrifice be the last we are asked to make in these terrible wars against these inhuman enemies who strike without restraint, without reason, without mercy. May G-d help us and save our soldiers from our enemies, and from catastrophic mistakes in the heat of battle.