Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin called the head of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, into his office in 1977 and said to him, “Bring me the Ethiopian Jews.” What followed were a series of missions by land, sea, and air that brought more than 56,000 Jewish Ethiopians through Sudan into Israel over eight years. It was a highpoint in Israel’s history, followed immediately by a massive failure to integrate Ethiopians into Israeli society—a failure that carries immense consequences for today’s young Ethiopian-Israelis who experience racial discrimination and sometimes feel as though they’re not part of Israeli society.
The Palestinian who almost killed me in the fall of 2006 was a sixteen-year-old boy named Whalid.
In November that year, I infiltrated Gaza for the last time. I was twenty-three years old and had served in the Israeli Naval Commando for four years. My crew and I were on foot, and despite the heavy equipment I carried, I was relieved not to be in an armored personnel vehicle. One of my greatest fears, always, was burning alive in that tank-like carrier. During our previous mission in Gaza, we left in one of those vehicles and an Israeli tank accidentally shot at us but missed. If I was going to die, even by friendly fire, I’d rather it be in the open air.
A warrior of the Hamas Naval Commando drowned during a training exercise in northern Gaza on September 2015. In an Israeli online newspaper’s report on the story, they opened the article with the sentence, “He didn’t excel in his role.” They showed a picture of him which they titled “the schlemiel.” They wrote, “to strengthen the absurdity [of him drowning], his name means ‘ocean.’” They called him an “unskilled fighter.”
As an Israeli and a five-year veteran of an elite combat unit in the IDF, I don’t care about this man; it’s good he’s dead. He was training to infiltrate my country via the sea and kill Israelis. His death is beneficial to Israel’s national security.
But we don’t have to mock him in a newspaper report of his death.
Out of the 4,500 rockets Hamas fired from Gaza into Israel over the summer of 2014 during Operation Protective Edge (OPE), the western media did not capture a single launch on film.
“You can miss one, miss 100, even 200,” said Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the UN. “But if you’re sitting inside Gaza and you weren’t able to show one missile being launched, that’s very strange.”
That summer, the world saw many images, mostly those of the tragic destruction in Gaza caused by Israel; ruined schools and hospitals, dead women and children. Yet there was a “lack of proportion between representing Israel as causing all this destruction, and no footage of [Hamas] firing from within mosques, hospitals, and schools,” Ambassador Prosor said. “And the amazing thing is that no one asks the question, ‘How come we don’t see these images?’”
The soldier sat on a hill and assembled his missile. It was daylight, but he could do it in pure darkness just as easily and just as fast. His crewmate — who also served as his best friend and missile spotter — had been complaining quietly about his girlfriend the entire morning, but was now silent as he handed the soldier the pieces he needed, one by one. They had done this many times before; no words were necessary. The soldier’s commander knelt three steps behind them, checking radio communications. The soldier finished setting up the missile, pressed his eye into the viewfinder and quickly oriented himself within the Palestinian city of Nablus of the West Bank in Israel. He found the cafe where the terrorist was scheduled to be, according to good intelligence. This would be the most difficult and complicated shot he had ever taken; shooting the missile from one-and-a-half kilometers through electricity wires and poles, through the window of the cafe, and into the number one terrorist of Hamas. They all waited. Fifteen minutes later the terrorist entered the coffee shop and sat near the window. The soldier switched the safety off of the missile and waited for the green light to fire. Continue reading →
This is in response to an article in the New York Times by Moriel Rothman-Zecher, titled “Why I Won’t Serve Israel,” where he explains in detail why he won’t serve in the IDF:
I have a problem with people who glorify inaction. I take issue with those who point out a problem and offer no solution. People who claim to act out of ideology and belief, when those things are only disguising selfishness. This is my problem with Moriel Rothman-Zecher and his article, “Why I Won’t Serve Israel.”
I used to have an extremely harsh attitude towards those who didn’t enlist in the military. I wouldn’t speak to them because I couldn’t accept them breaking the social contract we were all born into and that existed between us. I gave my sweat and blood, almost my life, so they can be safe. So they can go to malls and ride on buses and not blow up. That’s not an abstract notion, it’s literal. But you’re not allowed to live in our country under the safety and freedom I, and every other soldier, provide, and not extend the same courtesy. That’s not how our system works, whether you believe in that system or not. Continue reading →