There are many people in Israel who feel like these past two weeks have been the longest two weeks in their lives. Since the moment the abduction became public knowledge, the tension is palpable. There’s more unknown than known. Optimism flips to pessimism and then back again. Emotions overcome intellect, but then the mind overtakes the heart. Faith, prayer, and a seemingly never-ending glance at the news, with someone in the background asking, ‘did they find them yet?’
Israel has experienced difficult times. Anxiety is no stranger to anyone in this State. Wars, missiles, terror, shootings, intifadas, you name it. It’s very difficult to find a reason for apprehension that does not exist in Israel, over the years.
This time it seems, for some reason, different. Almost all barriers have crumbled. There is literally wall-to-wall concern and support for the families. Left and right, the most divisive forces in Israel, have come together. This has happened before, notably following a prior abduction, that of Nachshon Wachsman, in 1994.
The difference, of course, is that Wachsman was a soldier. The three teenagers, Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal are just that, teenagers. They are civilians.
Yet, that’s not entirely true. Our enemies have declared, numerous times that the three young men are soldiers, ‘Zionist soldiers.’ In a sense, they are correct. Because in truth, we are all soldiers. Some of us, in khaki uniform, and others in regular, everyday clothing. But the superficiality of our dress does not change the fact that we are all, one way or another, serving our country, serving our people, serving our G-d.
Our very presence, not only in Judea and Samaria, but anywhere in Israel, makes us soldiers. Because we, the State of Israel, is still fighting a War of Independence. We are still struggling for existence. There are many out there, around the world, who would be more than happy to see us deleted from the map of the globe.
A few days ago I attended a special Knesset caucus meeting, dealing with the delegitimation of Israel throughout the world. The keynote speaker was former Gov. Mike Huckabee. Of course he spoke very well and to the point. Features about his visit in Israel and in the Knesset can be seen here.
One of the main points, which I’ve spoken about in the past, and was also stressed by Huckabee and also ZOA president Mort Klein, at the Knesset session, is the fact that rabid anti-Semitism is still very much present, in Europe and the US. However, in our modern day and age, it is not popular or correct to be anti-Semitic. Therefore, pure Jew-hatred has taken on a ‘new dress’ that being a double edged sword of being anti-Israel and pro-Arab (palestinian).
I’ll get back to this idea in a moment. But first, another thought must be presented.
One of the almost inexpressible utmost uplifting results of the horrid abduction of the three youth is the appearance of three new Israeli leaders, for I don’t think there is any other way to describe them. Leaders. Iris Yifrach, Rachel Frankel, and Bat-Galim Sha’ar.
Three women, whose courage, faith, and stamina, during the most difficult time that can be conjured up in the worst possible nightmare imaginable, are leading the Israeli public through this horrendous event.
I’ve been working as a spokesman, opposite press and public for almost two decades. It’s not easy work. You have to think and speak simultaneously. Knowing that a slip of the tongue can be catastrophic. These women, evolved literally overnight, from being private people, wives and mothers, to being not only spokeswomen, but also symbols, of Israel.
Perhaps the culmination of their efforts occurred a few days ago when they appeared at the UN Council for Human Rights in Geneva.
Here, talk about anti-Semitism?! I watched live, over the internet, how one country after another condemned, not the butchery in Syria or Iraq, not the abduction of three teenagers, rather, only the ‘violation of palestinian human rights.’ Nothing else in the world takes precedence to this. Not the mass slaughter in Syria, not the arrest and death sentence of a woman in Sudan who dared to convert to Christianity from Islam, and certainly not rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, or continued terror against Jews. Only one thing matters, that being the ‘occupation.’
How these three women sat there, listening to this revolting hate is beyond me. But more amazing than that was Rachel Frankel’s presentation to the world organization, describing the three young men, their abduction, and plea for international intervention, to bring the boys home, alive, safe, to their families. Such grace and dignity, representing Israel with honor, an embodiment of the best of the best. Spokeswomen, leaders, soldiers. Literally, warriors, fighting for their sons, but not only for their children, rather for their people.
Unfortunately not all Israelis fit into this category of heroics. Specifically MKS like Hanin Zuabi, who, rather than condemn the abduction, praise and support it, or MK Achmad Tibi and others, who support Hamas, refusing to recognize them as a terror organization. Even Jewish MK Amram Mitzne, who compared the Jewish Home party with Hamas.
These kind of people should be spewed out of Israeli society, and certainly should not be allowed to serve in our parliament, the Knesset. There are no words of condemnation strong enough to use to describe them.
But these are surely not representative of the Israeli public at large. An Israeli public which not only embraces the families, but also recognizes their outstanding nobility, during such trying times.
Yesterday the military and intelligence forces released the names and photographs of the Arabs suspected of abducting Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. They are monsters. Their families are well-known for previous terror activities against Israel. They will be found, eventually, and the youth too, will be brought back to their families. The events may deteriorate before they get better. But nothing can or will ever erase the magnitude of these women’s determination and fortitude. They are a beacon of light, shining forth the essence of our people. They are what Israel is all about.
We will continue to pray, to hug them, and wait.