November 27, 2006
Friday afternoon I was just coming out of a store in Kiryat Arba, when, getting into the car, I received one of the scariest phone calls I can recall. On the other end was Gerri. Gerri’s husband Shlomo and I have been friends for about 30 years, of which he and Gerri have spent the last 20 years or so in Kiryat Arba. I was honored to be the ‘sandak’ at two of their five sons’ Brit Milah, that is to be holding them during the ceremony of their circumcision. One of those two boys is studying in yeshiva. The other, Avi, is serving in the army.
Gerri: “David, Avi was injured down in Gaza. He was in an army vehicle which was blown up. They say he’s ok. I spoke to him. Shlomo and I are going to the hospital in Beer Sheva to be with him for Shabbat.”
I took Avi’s phone number from her and called him. I too wanted to hear his voice. When I actually got a laugh out of him I knew he was OK. He was, according to his mother, full of ‘resisim,’ which, in English means shrapnel, from the explosion, but otherwise he seemed to be doing fine.
Yesterday Avi was released from the hospital and I went to visit him. Actually I expected to find him sleeping in bed and was a bit surprised to find him sitting in the living room, surrounded by two of his brothers and his parents. The first thing he did was to get undressed, showing me the dozens of little holes that had punctured his young body. The wounds on his legs and arms didn’t seem so bad, but when he picked up his shirt to show me his chest – WoW! I could only think that it was a miracle that we is still sitting here with us.
The fashion show over, we started with questions and answers. His unit, serving in Gaza, had set up an outpost in one of the more problematic terrorist neighborhoods. He was driving something similar to a tank, in back of three other vehicles, with a few more in back of him. His vehicle was targeted for the attack being that it potentially carried the most soldiers inside its metal stomach. A huge bomb, perhaps holding as much as 100 kilograms of explosives, detonated alongside the tank-like vehicle, tearing a hole in its side and sending thousands of tiny slivers of metal flying through the air.
Avi, realizing immediately that he had been injured, did a quick self-check to examine the damage. Then, somehow, he managed to turn his tank around and drive some 20 minutes back to his base, with much of his body bleeding like a sieve. Much of his uniform had been burned off in the explosion, and when he reached his destination and stumbled out of the driver’s seat, one of his commanders, seeing him, reeled, ‘what happened to you?’
Thank G-d, Avi’s injuries were not terribly serious. The puncture wounds weren’t very deep and none of his vital organs were hit. About as big a miracle as can be imagined. Now Avi has a few weeks off to recuperate, and then he’ll report back to active duty. Whether or not he’ll be able to continue in his unit will only be determined after he returns, but he didn’t show any signs of wanting to run away and hide. To the contrary, he was in high spirits, despite the constant pain caused by his injuries. Avi’s father explained to me: ‘you know what it feels like when you get stuck by a thorn, and you can’t get it out, and it hurts? That’s what each one of the puncture wounds feels like.’ I asked if anyone had counted how many little pieces of metal had punctured Avi’s body, but the answer was negative. I guess, who would want to count them? But the whole time I was there, Avi didn’t stop smiling, and I didn’t hear any complaints. A real hero.
Yet, despite the heroism of Avi and many others like him, sometimes I have to pinch myself to determine whether or not I’m really awake, or in the midst of some kind of nightmare. This morning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking at the grave of David Ben Gurion, again offered the terrorists, enemies of the state, whose aims start with the destruction of Israel and end with the Islamization of the world, release of murderers from Israeli jails, establishment of a terrorist state, expulsion of tens and hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes and abandonment of our homeland. All of this if only they would agree to a ‘real peace.’
O.K. These people are brain dead. They have nothing left upstairs. They have learned nothing from the last 100 years of history, nothing from the over 2,000 people killed since Oslo, nothing from the thousands of Kasam rockets that have been launched since the abandonment of Gush Katif, and nothing from the Hizballah-Syrian-Iranian axis which launched war on Israel this past summer. I have no hopes or illusions about these people. I only pray that G-d will keep them from doing any more real damage, that, one way or another, their plans to assist in erasing Israel from the map will be thwarted.
But what about our own? Last week the rightwing Israeli weekly newspaper Makor Rishon printed an article written by Erez Tadmor, which deals with several new ‘peace plans’ being suggested by none other than people like former Yesha council secretary general Adi Mintz, MK Yisrael Katz, and most surprisingly, former Hebron resident Yechiel Leiter. Leiter, today a resident of Eli in the Shomron, once a prominent Hebron leader, was also a leader of the Yesha council for many years, an advisor to Limor Livnat and later to Bibi Netanyahu. His proposal, as presented in the Makor Rishon article calls for Israel to ‘transfer’ 5,000 Israelis in eleven communities, due to their ‘problematic’ locations, while declaring sovereignty over 42 percent of Judea and Samaria. That means, leaving 58% to our neighbors. He doesn’t rule out ‘one-sided’ Israeli withdrawal: leaving heavily populated Arab land to the Arabs, while declaring Israeli sovereignty over the other land areas.
Why: ‘The right has, for too long, only said no – what not to do. Now the time has come for us to say ‘yes’ – what can, and should be done.’ Leiter calls this plan ‘hitgabshut,’ which might be translated ‘the integration plan.’
Reading this article, I wasn’t overly surprised by Katz or Mintz. The Yesha council has not been known, in the last few years at least, to be bastion of rightwing thought or action. However, seeing a man of Leiter’s credentials offering Eretz Yisrael on a silver platter to our enemies is a matter of concern. But my greatest concern is this: Leiter has awarded legitimacy to all of those, be they Israeli, American or Arab, who proclaim that the solution to the Middle East conflict is land for peace. Eretz Yisrael for … something. We must sacrifice our land (where is Hebron on your map, Mr. Leiter? Are up willing to displace your family from its home in Eli too?) for… what? For promises? For a piece of paper? For wants and wishes?
Leiter, with this proposal, is walking in the footsteps of his old friend, Ariel Sharon, destroying what’s left of the right, integrating the right into the left, letting the genie out of the bottle, and announcing to the whole world: YES, EVEN THOSE OF US LIVING IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA, THOSE OF US WHO SPENT DECADES BUILDING OUR LAND, THOSE OF US WHO BELIEVE THAT G-D GAVE US THIS LAND, OUR LAND, ERETZ YISRAEL, WE TOO ARE WILLING TO UPROOT OURSELVES, ABANDONING OUR HOMES AND COMMUNITIES, SACRIFICING THEM TO MOLECH.
From now on, the Israeli left, fighting to destroy the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria will have a new friend: Yechiel Leiter. They will be able to say: ‘Look, even one of your own admits defeat. He says eleven communities, we say fifty communities. He says 5,000 and we say 100,000 – this can all be put on the negotiating table. But the principal is accepted by us all – the Land of Israel, is negotiable. It can legitimately be dealt away if the deal is right, like a discarded card in a poker game.
When reading such awful ideas, as presented by ‘one of our own’ I ask myself, why should young men, like Avi, and others, put their lives on the line. For what? Only to be told, after battling for their land and their people, that it was for naught, that we are ‘giving it back?!’
All I can say is, thank G-d for the thousands and thousands of Avis who, with faith and strength, are willing to give their lives for their land, for their people, for their country. Their very service is the antithesis of Leiter’s ‘integration plan’ – they are saying ‘yes’ – yes to our land, yes to our people, yes to G-d. They proclaim, with others of us – ‘peace for land.’ If and when our neighbors will stop warring against us, allowing us to live peacefully and quietly in our land, we will let them live peacefully too. As long as we are forced to fight for our land, they too will not know peace and comfort in OUR land. We will agree to give them peace when they stop trying to take away our land. Peace for Land.
I wait breathlessly for the day when Avi and his friends will take off their uniforms and participate in actively leading the State of Israel – away from the directions offered by Leiter and his friends, and in the direction that G-d had in mind when he promised us, and gave us our holy land, our Eretz Yisrael.