Up Close And Personal: Israel Under Fire

Tags: Terror, Soldiers and Defense, Israel Under Fire, Living Israel, Living Beyond Terror

This collection of quotes discusses daily life and personal strength in Israel, while the country is at war and under attack. We invite you to read them, alone or with others, and discuss how they speak to you.

Contact us for more materials about Israel's reality for use in your educational programming or community.

Living With Terror Attacks Mode:

  1. Go about your day
  2. Hear blast/siren/rumors/excessive ambulance wailings
  3. Find nearest TV/Radio/stranger that looks serious to find out location
  4. Quickly calculate "who do I know in the area"
  5. Check-in with relatives and friends to find out if they're ok
  6. Breath a sigh of relief
  7. Continue to go about your day
  8. Hug your children just a little harder and longer that evening
  9. Repeat again tomorrow
Of course there are those for whom the news will be devastating and change their lives forever. The terror roullette. They seek martyrdom. Let's arrange it.

- Uri Goldflam

Feeling some major cognitive dissonance between what's happening here in Israel and all of the memes back home on what everyone's thankful for on the eve of Thanksgiving. Not feeling thankful for much of what's going on right now.

- Allison Kaplan Sommer

I live in an older building that doesn’t have a mamad, or safe room. It didn’t become an architectural requirement to build safe rooms in new structures until after the Gulf War. The nearest bomb shelter is a five-minute walk from my apartment. With the 90-second lead time following the siren, there is no way I can get there in time. When the siren goes off, all the residents in my apartment building pour into the stairwell. It’s the safest place to be since there are no windows. The good news is that Hamas is helping me get to know my neighbors.

We anxiously wait there for the sound, and then it comes ... BOOM. Then we know the rocket has landed or blown up. We wait five minutes longer to know that the coast is clear before we move about. Immediately after the blast the phones don’t work, but we are all thankful for Facebook which allows us to tell our loved ones we are okay. Then life goes on . . .

- Florence Broder

Yesterday I was in the city center of Jerusalem when a siren went off and I saw old people and women get out of cars and buses and lay on their stomachs with hands over their heads in case of a rocket attack or shrapnel from an explosion, some protecting babies with their bodies. The street chatter was about which side of a building to be on if you are outside, in consideration of the direction of potential rocket attack on the city. I just didn't know what to do. And we are the really lucky ones...I only know that my fears and prayers distract me every minute of the day and night.

- Kenny Borsykowsky

“I never thought I would live to experience the day – of my invincible mother needing to scramble around for shelter.”

Zev Ben Shachar

The whoop whoop of a rocket siren will haunt these children for years. Or so I’m told by the children who have grown up to remember the sound that shapes their nightmares. Even now. Probably always.

- Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Ben Tovim family inside their safe room - photo by Chanit Ganish Gabbai

We learned to drive with our car windows open so that we could hear sirens while on the open road. We taught our children how to fall asleep again once they were moved into the safe room in the middle of the night. We developed a whole slew of coping mechanisms that range from “dressing for missiles” – no heels or straight skirts allowed – to black humor, acknowledging the absurdity of living in this kind of situation. A child wakes up from a crash of thunder last winter screaming, “missiles,” and we get to make jokes about how children of the Negev are more familiar with the sound of falling Grad missiles than actual rain.

- Faye Bittker

Feeling so concerned for my friends and family in Israel. Tired of the violence, of having to assert our "right to defend ourselves." Tired of watching administrations create wars when it is politically feasible without concern for who it will ultimately affect. Tired of waiting to hear about whether or not my cousin or my cousin's ex boyfriend is going to be OK because he got called to fight at the Gaza border. Tired of having to call everyone I know to make sure that their family, my family is safe. This cycle perpetuates until we do something different, that is not to say we stop working for peace, it means that we become more strategic and diligent in how we work towards it. There are so many lives, on both sides, at stake. No innocent civilians want death.

I NEED Israel. I need it for my grandfathers who liberated Auschwitz and Dachau. I need it for me and one day, for my children and my grandchildren. We, Israel, are at a dangerous turning point. More quickly than we would like we are becoming the ethnic minority between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. There is only so much time we have to fight to show we are stronger than the neighbors surrounding us. It is imperative that we take the initiative and that the world community join us in waging an effective end to this once and for all. A comprehensive peace. A secure, Jewish, democratic Israel. I NEED Israel. Because of so much silence about our suffering, I am so afraid for it...

- Serena Zeise

Even a hard-core left wing tree-hugging bleeding heart liberal such as myself thinks this operation is justified. May there be no more war, no more bloodshed...

- Yona Cymerman

I have been called up along with tens of thousands of other reservists. Tomorrow I will be wearing green and carrying a rifle. This isn’t something I want to do, it is something I have to do. The rockets and shells flying out of the Gaza Strip have ensured that we are living in a situation that is intolerable. Every Israeli citizen has a right to live their life without being in fear that death will catch them from above. Though it pains me that we are in this situation I feel nothing but pride at the fact that in it’s moment of need the IDF has entrusted me with being a part of the defence of our wonderful country.

Marc Goldberg

Israel exists today because of the brave men and women of the IDF – those who gave their lives and those who fought in all our wars. I am proud of every single one of them. When my son has joined up, I will be proud of him for that too. I am proud that my boy has that fire in him, that burning desire to live amongst his people, to serve his country.

Hadassah Sabo Milner

Spent the drive this morning trying to explain to my daughter of 5 why Israel is in the news so much. I'd rather explain where babies come from. I support the IDF so one day, a generation of kids will know nothing but peace in Israel.

- Stephanie Kaplan Randolph

Jewish hope must spring eternal. And in order for it to do so, in order for us to find the strength to continue, to send our children to war and to raise another generation in a place that will tragically not know peace in any of our lifetimes, we need to tell Jews what this is. This is a battle of good versus evil, the battle between those struggling to avoid civilian casualties and those who are intentionally trying to kill civilians, the battle between those who have time and again sought peace, and those who said “no” in Khartoum in 1967 and still say “no.”

- Daniel Gordis

Having never been to war, I cannot possibly know what that entails. I know only that this is unacceptable. Even a daily drizzle of rockets from Gaza, which at present is a downpour, is unacceptable. Our families deserve better. Our country deserves better. To be clear, nobody wants a war, particularly not a combat soldier in a unit serving on the Gaza border. I understand the dangers, and I do not take them lightly. But at the end of the day, we chose to be combat soldiers. And although we did not ask for this escalation, we nevertheless stand ready and willing to defend our homes and our families.

We asked for peace, and our enemies responded with rockets. We asked to send our children to school without worrying that they will not return; to drive to work without fearing rockets will begin to fall during rush-hour traffic; to live our lives without the fear of rockets and of terror, and we have been answered with a resounding “No!”

God! Bless our children, bless our soldiers. Guide them. Keep them safe. Keep them warm. Bring them back to us, healthy and whole. Am Yisrael Chai.

Zehava Englard

It is terribly hard to be away from Israel in these days of war. I feel like I am in a no-man’s land of the heart. My heart and my head are 100% there...My heart is made so much heavier by the fact that what I’m feeling isn’t shared by anyone around me. There is no collective experience, no sense of community. Yes, many American Jews care deeply about Israel. But the war is just one item on their agenda...It’s not the same. The matzav – the situation – doesn’t weigh on their every breath, the way it does for us. The war doesn’t go to sleep with them at night and wake up with them in the morning. Rena Neeman

You can take the person out of Israel, but you can’t take Israel out of the person.  
- Gilad Rabina

Read more personal stories

First Person: Cloudy with a Chance of Missiles
Faye Bittker

Goodnight Siren
Liz Cohen

No Man's Land of the Heart
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Israel at the Defining Moment of the Inevitableby Zahava Englard

Operation Take Back the Media
by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

“I can’t even walk down the street without thinking, ‘Where can I hide if there’s a siren right now?’” 
17-year Old Paz from Ashkelon 

Don't You Forget about Me
by Liz Cohen

Red Alert: Postcard from Sderot
Odelia Ben Porat

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Tags: Terror, Soldiers and Defense, Israel Under Fire, Living Israel, Living Beyond Terror