Lessons I've Learned From This War On Terror

Tags: Living Israel, Terror, Jewish Unity, Israel Under Fire

By Lisa Brink

I've learned that seeing the first photographs of soldiers we’ve lost, and later pictures of their funerals, feels like being disemboweled without an anesthetic.

I’ve learned that friends with sons in Gaza inexplicably manage to work, eat, shop, cook, and answer well meaning questions, all the while holding their breath.

I’ve learned the sheer terror that comes with being caught outdoors the very first time I ever heard a siren, and running home because I didn’t yet know I should be hitting the ground instead, all the while expecting to see rocket fire light up the night sky.

I've learned to resist the urge to throw something heavy at the television screen, when BBC and CNN news anchors deliver their venomous, biased reports.

I’ve learned that it takes only the slightest bit of fanning to turn the ever-present spark of anti-Semitism into a raging fire.

I’ve learned that, when you reach the ballot box, it’s more important to vote for the candidate you’d want leading the country in war time, than times of peace.

I’ve learned that 30,000 people will brave the weather to attend the funeral of a lone soldier they’d never met, and that so many thousands of people will visit recuperating lone soldiers in hospital, that an announcement will be made on the news, asking well-wishers to allow our heroes to rest.

I’ve learned to only ever leave the house wearing waterproof mascara.

I've learned that 800 metres from your home isn't very far at all, when rocket debris is falling on your neighborhood fields.

I’ve learned to laugh at the irony of a demonstration by left wing activists, protesting against Israel’s activity in Gaza, being broken up early due to rocket fire aimed at Tel Aviv.

I've learned to anticipate the exact length of the siren...followed by the whoosh of the Iron Dome deploying intercepting rockets...then the deceptive silence...and finally the thunderous booms.
My dog hasn't yet grown used to this sequence, however, and jumps up and bark angrily as the windows shake, and the echoes of the explosion subside.

Supermarket saferoom by Liz Cohen

I’ve learned to choose the supermarket I frequent during wartime based on a whole new criteria. Do I go to my usual, discounted supermarket and, if the siren sounds, risk having to find shelter in a deserted industrial zone at night? Or do I go to the local supermarket, which is closer, even though there are no walls to take shelter against en-route?

I've learned that even a broken heart can be further fractured. "He was to be married soon," a close friend of a fallen soldier told me. "His mother had already bought him a watch as a gift. She wanted to buy his shirt for the wedding too, but her husband told her to rather wait till he returned." Hearing this, I felt my splintered heart shatter more, as I am sure yours just did too.

I've learned that catering companies will drive to the border and set up voluntary, mobile kitchens, that plumbers will arrive with mobile water tank showers, hairdressers will give free hair cuts, and masseurs will willingly massage aching limbs. It's already been announced that, on their return home, soldiers will enjoy free entry to movies and sports stadiums for a month, and I'm confident many similar offers will follow.

Because that's just how it is here.

Photo by Lev Olam

I've learned that, when the siren sounds, strangers will use their bodies to shelter babies and young children, and strapping young men will lift old ladies into their arms, and carry them gently them into the shelter.

Most of all, I’ve learned of my untapped reservoirs of love and pride for this miraculous country, and my limitless gratitude for its exemplary army.

Am Israel Chai!

Lisa Brink with husband and daughter, newly inducted into the Israel Defence Forces.

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About the Author

Lisa Brink
Lisa Brink was born and raised in South Africa but her heart has always been in Israel. She realized a lifelong dream and made aliyah with her 2 children in June 2006 and - despite the country throwing a war to welcome us - has never looked back. They made their home amongst the famous strawberry fields of Hod Hasharon where Lisa runs a cookery school and spends more time than she cares to admit on social networking and news sites.

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Tags: Living Israel, Terror, Jewish Unity, Israel Under Fire