My grandfather, Harry Bedein, arrived on the shores of Boston on June 14th, 1905 after escaping the clutches of the Russian army to embark on a new life.
99 years later, my oldest son, Noam Bedein, arrives on the shores of Boston on June 14th, 2004 to work at Camp Ramah in Massachusetts after four years of service on Israel’s northern border in the Israel Defence Forces. He embarks on a mission to assume the role of a shaliach (ambassador) of the Israeli army, one of two hundred Israeli soldiers who are allowed to spend their last two months of IDF service with North American youth.
Noam, at 22, will have much to share about his experiences with his peers, many of whom have just finished four years of University studies.
Noam will be able to relate his first hand experience of what it was like to be a sergeant in the Observer Corps of Israel’s Artillery on the northern border with Lebanon. He served during the four years that have past since Israel’s unilateral withdrawal of IDF troops who had been stationed there for 25 years inside the “security zone” of Southern Lebanon.
The architect of the withdrawal, Dr. Yossi Beilin, one of the architects of the Geneva Accords and an Israeli leftist, who was then the Justice Minister of Israel, told me a few days before Israel’s withdrawal that the world and certainly the Lebanese would not dare launch any attacks against Israel so long as Israel would only withdraw to its internationally recognized northern border.
But if you closely followed the Israeli government TV amd radio and Israel Army Radio, you would not know that there have been just too many problems on the Northern border during the four years since Israel’s surrender of the Security Zone. For those in the West, even less is heard.
That is for one reason: Israel hardly has any reporters up there. When there are no reporters you only hear what the government and the army want you to hear even in a democracy.
So one would think that Israel enjoys “relative quiet” on its northern frontier.
Well, since Noam was stationed up there and his job was to watch and report what was really transpiring, we, as parents, knew otherwise from Noam’s furlough reports.
Moreover, the declassified IDF situation report that was issued on the day that Noam was discharged from the IDF on June 8th, 2004 speaks for itself:
In the four years since the IDF unilaterally redeployed its troops from Lebanon, the following attacks on Israel took place from the North:
34 attacks with mortar shells and anti-tank missiles into Northern Israel.
7 shooting attacks with light arms fire into Northern Israel.
8 roadside bombs that were planted in Northern Israel.
127 times when anti-aircraft missiles** were fired into Northen Israel.
5 Katusha rocket attacks into Northern Israel.
10 infiltrations into Northern Israel.
11 soldiers killed in Northern Israel & 3 IDF troops kidnapped and murdered.
50 soldiers who were wounded in Northern Israel.
7 civilians who were killed in Northern Israel.
Another 14 civilians were wounded in Northern Israel.
**The Israeli media often reported that these missiles were firing at Israeli aircraft, while this hardly is ever the case. As Ha’Aretz military expert Z’ev Schiff once explained after one of these anti-aircraft missiles killed a sixteen-year-old boy in Shlomi, the trajectories of these missiles were readjusted to act as surface-to surface missiles. The boy, who was sitting on some steps eating his lunch, was decapitated. However, since Israel’s government and Israel army media reported that these were anti-aircraft missiles, most people in Israel assumed that these missiles were simply fired at Israeli aircraft. The observer corps of the Israeli artillery would beg to differ with that assessment.
Besides the above ten facts of life that Noam had to cope with on the northern border during his tenure there, Labor MK Ephraim Sneh has disclosed confirmed declassified IDF intelligence information that Arab terrorists have positioned 12,000 Missile sites ready to fire on northern Israel. These missiles have been positioned in what had been the “security zone” of Israel in southern Lebanon from where Israel withdrew earlier.
When Noam meets American youth this summer, he will have a task at hand to tell them what he saw.
My late father, Phillip Bedein, who grew up in the famous West End of Boston, asked one thing of his sons and his grandchildren in Israel: to let everyone back home know what is really going on over there.
Well, in a play on words, we raised Noam as an observant Jewish boy in Israel.
Noam had been a forward observer for the Israeli army for the past few years on the northern border of Israel just as my other grandfather, Abe Levy of Winthrop, Massachusetts had been a forward observer for the U.S. Army’s artillery corps in France in the final days of World War I.
However, since the media hardly reports what goes on in the precarious north of Israel, Noam has a particular task to tell it like it is.
At a time when pressures around the world are mounting for Israel to make yet another unilateral withdrawal of troops from Gaza without any quid pro quo of peace in the south, our son was witness to what it means to move back Israeli troops and watch Israel’s enemies simply assume their position to threaten even more the lives of the people of Israel.
Noam finished his tour of the IDF on the day after the ya’arzeit (anniversary date of death) for another Noam who was killed in action in Lebanon 22 years ago. That boy died 40 days before the birth of our Noam. The talmud notes that an angel of God provides the name of a new born child, 40 days before his birth. Our Noam came marching home from the border of Lebanon with a legacy to preserve. To tell it like it is: that Israel is real.