Notes from Netivot – Esther Revivo

Notes from Netivot are pieces written by Esther Revivo, a compassionate colleague and English teacher from Netivot. She offers heartfelt words from her personal point of view.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Once There Was a Bus….

The sky is filled with helicopters as par for the course during the past few weeks. Only now things have escalated. How those animals could have purposely targeted a bright yellow school bus is beyond belief!!

I remember the years when each of my children spent a year or more at a school or Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. I was always a bit tense as ‘way back when,’ there were a spate of bus bombings. When the said child returned home to Netivot, I always breathed a sigh of relief.

Well, no more! The escalation of morters and kassams has been quite noticeable. I used to be able to easily differentiate between our fire and their rockets. No more. 2 weeks ago when they sent over 50 rockets our way on Shabbat, the firing was intense. I blithely told my daughter, “Don’t worry, hon! Those are our boys returning fire! Can’t you tell it’s our artillery?” Well, the joke was on me! They now lob them at such frequency that the rockets sound like artillery fire.

My heart goes out to my friend Judith and others in the Eshkol region who are either in shelters at home or still in shelters at school unable to return to the ‘safety’ of their homes until who knows when. What about dinner? Where will they spend the night? Will they get any sleep whatsoever?

My daughter had planned to walk to a local wedding hall with friends tonight, but I will pay for a taxi instead, Be’H. That way if there is a siren she won’t be caught in the open without a place to hide.

Should the IDF once again enter Gaza? I don’t believe it would be a good idea simply because sadly, I believe our prime minister lacks the guts to see such a move through to the end, to a point where we will so severely damage the Chamas war machine that we will be able to live our lives peacefully without fear of rocket fire. It’s just a crying shame that we didn’t finish the job in the Cast Lead Operation when we were so close to that goal.

Monday, September 14, 2009

“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; An Indian History of the American West

The hypocrisy of America knows no bounds! I grew up hearing endless heroic stories about my grandfather, William (Avraham) Gerstman, who founded the first minyan in Phonenix Arizona in the 1920’s. My grandfather also imported the first shochet and convinced other Jews to move to his city. He had a cross burnt on his lawn by the KKK, but that did not deter him. However, that account is for another post, not this one!

For the 10 years he worked as an attorney in Phoenix before returning to N.Y. State, my Grandfather fought tirelessly without financial recompense for the Navajo and Sioux indians of Arizona who endured horrific deprivation and persecution due to their race. These “American Indians” suffered much worse than non-Native Americans during the years of the Great Depression. I am cutting and pasting an article below that describes a book I read over 38 years ago but have never forgotten. It shattered (by use of official documentation) the myth of the “savage” Indians. Indeed, the American Army in the service of the American government systematically strived to uproot and slaughter as many “savages” as they possibly could. They systematically broke treaties, and initiated battles and massacres.

Of course, this shameful part of American history is NOT part of the standard curriculum studied in American history lessons. (At least it wasn’t in my day!) Now, we are being told by a bombastic, egotistical know-it-all called Obama where to build and not build our homes.

As a sidebar, I would just like to mention that until this day the percentage of Native Americans who are unemployed and live in poverty is far higher than that of other groups in the U.S.A. The “Indians” were herded like cattle into reservations far from their ancestral homes and far from the place where their religion required them to live. (Places considered holy where previous generations were buried.)

Therefore, I’d like to shove the book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” down the throats of Obama, Carter, Clinton and their entire entourage while shrieking at them, “Hey! Get real! READ THIS! And you have the gall to complain about OUR treatment of ‘Palestinians’?” (as if there was such a thing as Palestinians.) There is no Palestinian people. There are Arabs connected to other Arabs living in Jordan; Egypt; Syria; etc. They were never a separate ethnic identity.

Do a google search on the “Cherokee Trail of Tears.” For those whose grandfather did not teach them about this shameful part of American history please read below:

1838
May 23 Deadline for voluntary removal. Georgia Guard had begun round-up 5 days earlier. U. S. forces under command of Winfield Scott begin roundup in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina. Cherokee are herded into “forts,” gradually making their way north to the Cherokee Agency (Rattlesnake Springs) or Ross’s Landing in southeastern Tennessee. This is generally recognized as the beginning of The Cherokee Trail of Tears

(Regarding the book, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”)

This landmark book—which incorporated a number of eyewitness accounts and official records—offered a scathing indictment of the U.S. politicians, soldiers, and citizens who colonized the American West. Focusing mainly on the thirty-year span from 1860 to 1890, the book was the first account of the time period told from the Native-American point of view. It demonstrated that whites instigated the great majority of the conflicts between Native Americans and themselves. Brown began searching for the facts about Native Americans after he met several as a child and had a hard time believing the myths about their savagery that were popular among white people.Brown’s book depicted, in detail, the U.S. government’s attempt to acquire Native Americans’ land by using a mix of threats, deception, and murder. In addition, the book showed the attempts to crush Native-American beliefs and practices. These acts were justified by the theory of Manifest Destiny, which stated that European descendents acting for the U.S. government had a God-given right to take land from the Native Americans.
(Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Summary)

Monday, April 27, 2009

On the evening when we commemorate those who fell in terror attacks and wars, (called Remembrance Day,) the day before our Independence Day (Yom Ha’azmaut,) I received this presentation from a former pupil. Please watch. This is our life here.
Tonight, my former pupil’s brother, whose life she saved by shielding his body with her own, is participating in the major national ceremony for Remembrance Day in Jerusalem. (Her name was Ella Abukasis, ז’ל.)
You don’t have to live with rockets, but at least “be with us” for a few seconds and watch this. Then, please pass it on. Our Israeli p.r. stinks. All I hear about on BBC is the suffering of those in Gaza. I never hear about my pupils’ suffering- teens on tranquilizers; teens with insomnia ; teens sleeping in their parents rooms due to fear. Families that have a mere 10 seconds to reach their bomb shelter room.  Not to mention those like my pupil Michal who had shrapnel removed from her head, or their relatives wounded.
Funny as it seems, despite everything, I have never once regretted coming here to live. This is my homeland. I feel much safer than I did in NYC in University during the 1970’s.
Regards-

Esther Revivo

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Incomplete

At university, come end of semester, it was dreadful to receive one’s report card with the word “incomplete” listed alongside the course name. Such disappointment pales in comparison to the frustration, anger and rage we here in the Western Negev feel at present. Incomplete by dictionary definition means not complete, not finished. That is precisely the situation here.

Firstly, however, as a religious Jew, I want to backtrack a bit and openly thank and praise Hashem for the ongoing miracles he has wrought these weeks after Operation Cast Lead. For, as during the war itself, only a blind man would fail to see His hand that has prevented PHYSICAL damage from the rockets Chamas keeps lobbing our way. I won’t go into the mental fatigue and stress suffered by those in Sederot, Sha’ar Ha’negev and the Eshkol region where sirens continue to sound on a daily basis.

However, gratitude aside, we are so frustrated, angered and truly enraged that it defies words. I had an end of semester activity in my ninth grade class a few weeks ago. Half of that class comes from Sederot. All said they were extremely concerned about the future. All felt the government let them down by ending the war prematurely. All said that for years they believed that when the IDF would eventually enter Gaza to end the shelling, they had faith that the job would be completed and their lives could finally return to normal. At present, these pupils’ fear and uncertainty is palpable.

Having dual citizenship, I am grateful that America allowed my grandparents to escape Europe in the last century. However it galls me no end how our leaders here continue to kowtow to the American leadership at the expense of its own citizens. Senator Obama had to be inaugurated and heaven forbid we prevent a smooth entrance into the White House. So, we skedaddled out of Gaza with our tail between our legs. What about Gilad Shalit? What about the thousands here in the Negev, like those in Netivot this evening who ran for cover when a rocket landed near a shul in town? What about the families who lost soldiers and loved ones during Operation Cast Lead? For naught?

If I could have my way, I would insist that each incoming member of government move to our area. I reckon that once THEIR children began bed wetting at advanced ages and THEIR spouses needed tranquillizers to get through the day, the situation would probably change. The basic inherent right of an independent sovereign state is to do all that is necessary to protect its citizens. Failure to do so is dereliction of duty. Our leaders are too busy playing musical chairs for the incoming government to address our security needs. For how long? For shame!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Things That Go Bump in the Night

 

“The Syndrome of the South.” Sound like a new dance? Nah….. It goes like this:
What do “normal” people do when things go “bump” in the night….. or during the day? Therein lies the answer to the above query.

Let me give you an example: Yesterday I was at a wedding in Jerusalem where many of the participants were from Sederot and Netivot. We arrived early before the band really got going, when suddenly something big fell. There was a huge BOOOOOOOOOOOOM. And, tens of people literally jumped into the air and made various sounds all meaning more or less, “YIKES! What was THAT?????” Then, one of the women started laughing and said, “Just look at us! You can see exactly who went through the Cast Lead Operation in safety and who was bombed. This is the Syndrome of the South!”

Yesterday morning started out more or less as usual. Putting on my make-up I listen to the news, a bad habit that I picked up during the war. (Bad, because since Arutz 7 (Channel 7) was banned from the airwaves here, you can’t get anything vaguely resembling objective reporting on the radio. I don’t own a t.v., but guess the same goes for there as well.) Anyway, back to my morning: midway through putting on mascara the radio newscaster announces, “Color Red alert in Sederot! Color Red alert in Sederot!” (Several of my pupils slept through this one.)

A few seconds or perhaps a moment later my husband (0n his way out to shul) and I hear a faint baby booooom in the distance. **sigh** Just another day. But, this brings me to my second query, now that we all know what the Syndrome of the South is. Why the *&%(*&^$*&_+)((*^( doesn’t anyone give a ding-dong that we are still getting rockets lobbed at us? Because thankfully nobody has been killed? Does anyone reading this have any idea whatsoever as to just how traumatized Sederot’s citizens are after 8 years of rocketing? Not to mention the newly traumatized of Cast Lead. On my way to the wedding, I sat on the bus near a friend whose daughter has been a Sederot resident for the past 7 years. The Thursday before that wretched cease fire (wretched because since we’re still getting rocketed, apparently the work wasn’t completed,) a young mother of three had her home sustain a direct hit by a rocket. Thankfully only her husband was home at the time, safely situated in his “mamad.” (bomb shelter room)

But, nothing in life is simple. I spoke with the family whose home in Netivot sustained a direct hit that first Shabbat when our Air Force began bombing Hamas. I asked him how his family was doing. His response was that it isn’t simple at all. During the war, things seemed under control and everyone appeared okay psychologically speaking. But, with the war’s end and the lowering levels of adrenaline, it seems his kids need counseling and thankfully are getting it. But, I ask again, my heart beating with anger as I type these words: Why the HE** doesn’t anybody care that we are still getting rocketed?????? If you have an answer for me, please post a comment.

Esther Revivo

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in the Negev

Well, thanks to our esteemed government (renowned for its bravery and honesty) our lives here in the Western Negev are back to normal. Sort of. My Sederot pupils were rudely awakened early today with the “Color Red” siren and a Kassam. **sigh** Same old, same old. The Eshkol residents had theirs yesterday I believe.

On a personal level, having stubbornly stayed at home throughout most of the war, I felt the accumulated stress catch up with me. Began crying at the drop of a hat. So, I booked a hotel room and hubby and I boogied up to Jerusalem for three days of blessed rest. This week, during the hours I spent in rest and contemplation, I asked myself again and again: How do Sederot’s citizens remain sane after eight years of rocketing?

How do couples achieve anything approaching normalcy in their relationships armed with the knowledge that at any given moment they may need to seek shelter within ten seconds? How do parents cope with the stress of having their children out of sight when a “color red” siren sounds? How do the residents sleep nights? How many tranquilizers and sleeping tablets must they take and for how long? What kind of life is this????

Monday night at the hotel, I had problem sleeping (sans sleeping tablet :) So, I listened to Jojo Abutbul’s radio program from 1- 3:00 a.m. One idiot from Tel Aviv said that they were rocketed (remember the sealed rooms and Scuds once upon a time?) and found it difficult to understand why the southern residents were making such a big deal out of things. I have never felt closer to committing homicide than at that moment. How the *&(%(*%&^%*&%*_)(*^ can that idiot compare a war with a beginning, middle and END and his experiences to that of our dear brothers and sisters in Sederot and the Eshkol region???? Does that moron realize what eight years means? For me, it is approximately 1/6th of my life. For others it is a lifetime.

One of our twelfth graders at Ulpanat Tzvia Sedot Negev is named Or. She is absolutely brilliant as is her younger sister in grade nine. During one of our phone conversations midway through the war I expressed my upset over her family’s lack of a “mamad.” (The room which doubles as a bomb shelter.) When I queried her about one sibling’s reaction to the rocketing, she sardonically replied, “Come on, ha’morah, she is seven years old. This is normal life for her.” Forget homicide. What I’d prefer is require all incoming politicians following the upcoming elections to reside in Sederot for the duration of the government. (Usually no more than two years.) I assure you, the “normal” life of Or’s family would dramatically improve!

Esther Revivo,

Netivot

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Teabag Theory

I have just completed translating an academic article for a friend. It dealt, among other things, with the “teabag theory.” This theory is related to hostages’ ability to readjust to society following release from captivity. One of the researchers remarked, “One never knows the character of a human being until he finds himself in hot water!”

Well, we in Israel have been circulating in a bubbling cauldron of acidic liquid for several weeks already. And, praise G-d, our “teabags” seem to be filled with grade A ingredients! Let’s take stock of our national teabag!!!

Courage: Our boys (brothers, sons and fathers) are filled with extraordinary motivation to take part in the war, despite the dangers involved. Witness those wounded interviewed in hospital, all rearing to return to their brigades despite protests by Moms, wives and girlfriends! The media has spoken of soldiers not called up to active duty who have arrived at the front in uniform begging to do their part.

Loving kindness (chesed): Irregardless of the downturn in economic standards, the public has opened hearts and wallets since Operation Cast Iron began. People of every walk of life: irreligious, religious, traditional or simply…. Israeli, have been volunteering in every which way. Some folks have opened their homes to total strangers for a week or more. Others have donated everything from socks, undies, soap and snacks to send our soldiers. Meanwhile, toys plus other items have found their way to bomb shelters in areas throughout the south. It is totally awesome, this tremendous outpouring of chesed– one giving another with no wish for recompense!

Determination: Despite the initial shock of the sirens or “color red” alerts, on the whole the population is holding up remarkably well in the current stressful environment. Support for the war has not waned in the least as many thousands of Israelis have tasted the spoiled appetizers that have been lobbed at Sederot’s citizens for years.

Faith: Witnessing the wondrous miracles G-d has wrought for His people, one cannot but call a spade a spade: LUCK (MAZAL) has nothing to do with things. G-d in His great goodness has deflected grad, katyushot, and kassam rockets time and time again resulting in an unmistakably low number of physical casualties in relation to the great number of missiles fired. A relative of mine, jean-clad, non-observant is nonetheless a woman of great faith. Her building in Beer Sheva has been shaken twice by grad missiles, and once again this evening a targeted vehicle was smashed down the street from her apartment. Her seven year old son answers my query as to his fright or lack thereof: “Grandpa and Grandma have asked G-d in heaven to watch out for us!” As Moshe Rabbenu said, “Ahshrecha Yisrael! Mi Ka’mocha” “Who is pleased as you, Israel? Who is like you?” None indeed!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Unity

Finally back home. A whirlwind of buses are going through my brain. I feel like my 4 year old grandson going “vroom, vroom, vroom” while holding a toy truck. Within 5 days I have traveled throughout more cities than I care to count including: Maale Adumim; Yerushalayim; Petach Tikva; Modiin; Nof Ayalon; Lod; and finally today, moshav Tzafaria to get to Ulpanat Tzfira (which is hosting our tenth, eleventh and twelth grade classes.)

Our girls and I feel overwhelmed. Everywhere we go and everyone we speak to has the same reaction.

“From the south? How are you managing? Is there anything I can do to help you?” Despite exhaustion from transit, I return home revitalized. I have seen and heard parts of the great mosaic of our nation, and I like what I see.

I like the fact that the girls (around 1000 I was told,) were so warm and accepting of our pupils today at Tzfira. I adore the fact that everywhere we see people saying Tehillim (Psalms) or praying in their own words for our boys at the front. Not only that, a chocolate brigade (with cookies; cakes; bisli; bamba— you name it; it’s there) is on its way to the front with letters scrawled by children barely able to scribble along with packages brought by men like my neighbor, Avraham –a very special Jew. American, I don’t think he likes to be catergorized either as Dati Leumi (National Religious) or Charedi (Orthodox). He is simply a remarkably sensitve religious man with Ahavat Yisrael (Love of Israel) beyond measure. Retired, this gentleman traveled DAILY for weeks to Chevron (Hebron) from southern Israel to pray against implementaion of the expulsion from Gush Katif. These days, he’s never home. He’s either at the Tze’elim army base, or somewhere else on the war front, praying with the boys; talking with them and spoiling them silly with treats.

Then, take Oshrat. She is from Nof Ayalon and spends a full day working with pupils as her Sherut Le’umi (National Service) post demands. Come evening, rather than relax and unwind, she spends hours at her keyboard implementing Rav Kook of Rechovot’s initiative: sending people one name of one soldier they should pray for until the fighting ends. (Interested? Write a note to oshrati253@walla.com)

Then there’s the retired elderly woman who used to teach at a Charedi Seminary in Jerusalem. She saw busloads of soldiers waiting to leave Bar Ilan Street for the front. She ran into the nearest grocery store and came rushing out with arms laden with sweets. Climbing aboard each bus, before the driver could tell her, “Lady, this isn’t the bus going to the Kotel….” she said, “Dear men! Please know that we here in Israel all love you and appreciate what you are doing for our people! We will pray daily until your safe return home!” (My daughter witnessed this story which was published in this week’s Hebrew newspaper, “Mishpacha.”)

Still, one question keeps niggling at my conscience. Yes, these days are heady with the glow of unity in the air not felt since Nachshon Waxman’s kidnapping. I can’t help feeling sorrow however for the fact that it took a WAR to make us quit squabbling like a rowdy band of chidren! If we could only capture this aura, this delicious feeling of “us against the world,” that reminds me of why so many of us made aliya, and bottle it with a cork. Anxious for the madness of these days to end, we all await the return to normalcy. Nevertheless, I fear that come victory (I won’t consider the alternative!) this addictive fusion of our people will evaporate. Perhaps either politics; religion; fashion; people with alternative lifestyles or dress, will ignite another wildfire to divide us into opposing camps or ghettos.

In the meantime, it is quiet here in Netivot. This is a time for home and hearth away from open spaces. A time for prayer, reckoning and hope.

Teaching in the South, January 11/09

One can never fully comprehend an event until going through an identical situation. However, I wanted our colleagues nationwide to get some idea of the scope of the challenges in preparing our pupils for the upcoming Bagrut examinations.

I am sure that I speak for many others here in the South when I say we are living a surreal existence at present. Those who lived through the Second Lebanon War doubtless know exactly what I am talking about !!  I am not in Netivot as on Thursday our English staff traveled up to Maale adumim (no capital a on this keyboard; sorry!) to our Ullpana’s sister school for a day of study. On Sun.-Tues., our 10- 12 graders will be hosted by Ulpanat Tzfira. The media announced the resumption of studies at schools with proper “migun,” something our 40 yr. old campus lacks. So, I decided to spend Shabbat in Jerusalem, as I find traveling terribly difficult health wise. Once we finish at Tzfira, I will be homeward bound, G-d willing.

I want to thank the Ministry of Education for their consideration of our pupils’ difficulties at present. I am extremely grateful that the winter Bagrut exams have been put off for a month. However, even so, study must somehow be accomplished to enable the weakest pupils a chance at passing their modules. Last week when my rakezet and I spent 8 hrs. in the classroom until 4.00, it was understandably difficult for our girls to concentrate on English studies. One girl has a Givati brother in Gaza; another had her house damaged by a shell. Merav, a Sederot pupil (who can see Gaza from her living room window)  is a strong 5 pointer; yet she complained, “Ha’morah, I have read the first line of this unseen 4 times already. I just can’t concentrate and get into it!!!”

Many schools such as ours are teaching their pupils through their schools’ web sites. Once again, this is not an ideal situation as pupils have e-mailed that they have to help entertain/ babysit siblings. Others find it simply too hard to concentrate on school work what with sirens and running to their “protected spaces.” They worry about parents, as well, who must work despite the war. (i.e. at posts such as on their town council or medical clinics.)

We can all only hope that this campaign/war ends swiftly  and we can return to normalcy. I pray that normalcy will ensure that the Western Negev will no longer be on the receiving end of rockets for once and for all!

Esther Revivo
Ulpanat Tzvia Sedot Negev

Subject: Notes from Netivot
From: Esther , December 29

Finally, an ETAI (English Teachers Association of Israel)  conference in MY end of the woods. But aw shucks, the Pikud Oref  (the Army Command) told us to stay indoors and I try to listen to them.

And aw, double shucks: here we go again before another bagrut season (season of State-wide Matriculation exams) not knowing what will be or not be with our pupils. (Is it my imagination, or am I starting to sound like a certain Barry (Barry is a teacher with an irresistable sense of humour who is known for using it to help us all cope with reality)  from another oft-targeted area of  the country(He’s from Kiryat Shmona):) ?

Sorry for the satire, Mr. Shakespeare, but this is no laughing matter. What the pupils and staff close to the Gaza Strip have put up with for the past years is beyond belief.

We in the area are prepared to sleep in secure locations or move out to friends/ relatives until the untenable situation of non-stop rocketing ceases. Not a single resident of the areas closest to the rockets has remained unscathed mentally. I HATE when the media says, “No damage done,” when thank G-d nobody is physically injured. They should teach all the reporters to say, “Nobody was physically injured.” Other teachers from schools like Sapir much closer and therefore more often rocketed will doubtless agree when I claim that not a single pupil living in that area for years has been anything but intensely affected
by this situation. (i.e. Someone I knew committed suicide in the IDF as he was unable to withstand the stress involved.)

LET ME VERY CLEARLY SAY THAT I AM SORRY FOR INNOCENTS Of THE WORLD WHO ARE WHAT IS CRASSLY TERMED “COLLATERAL DAMAGE!” Now, with that clarified, I will continue:

Thankfully, as my rakezet (Department co-ordinator) told me today via the phone, “Lucky you! You knew just when to go on early pension and teach only 9th and 10th graders– no need for the Literature hishtalmut  (the mandatory course for teaching Higher Order Thinking Skills as applied to the teaching of literature) when the Irgun agrees to it; no bagrut worries …. “The latter is inaccurate, since my rakezet who took over my senior class has obviously needed my help as I know the girls inside out, having taught them for four years and all are **sigh** signed up to do the winter bagrut.

Well, I don’t envy Ms. Judy Steiner (National English Coordinator) and all the dear folks who make decisions about hakalot (special adaptations for those with learning disabilities)  for people in our area. How the heck can anyone do a matkonet (mock matriculation exam) when not at school? So, it’s time to hunker down like a hibernating bear for the duration.

Yesterday on Shabbat we in Netivot finally witnessed what my dear pupils from Sederot at Ulpanat Tzvia Sedot Negev have been going through for years already. The joyous calm of Shabbat repeatedly pierced by sirens blaring and the BOOOOM of rockets, decimating the beautiful atmosphere of the day. My eldest daughter who lives not far from Beit El remarked as evening fell, “… now will you stop worrying about us? We are safer than you!”

Safe? Who is safe? Only through the unending loving kindness of our Creator are we still alive, many of us unaware of the thousands of miracles He has wrought in the past, and G-d willing continue to do for us in future. Who knows how many terrorists we strolled past on the street; saw on the bus or bus stop who possessed a bomb that didn’t go off or was captured before detonation?

I am sorry I don’t recall the name of the general (a former head of our pikud tzafon – Northern Command) who spoke on the radio last week. He said more or less, “I am willing to eat dry bread and olives for a few years! The he** with what the world says! I wish this government would let the IDF go into Gaza and do everything it takes to end this untenable situation despite anything the world throws our way.”

AMEN! Let us all pray for a swift ending to this ongoing saga and hope that a “normal” life will be returned to residents of the Western Negev as soon as possible.

Esther Revivo, Ulpanat Tzvia Sedot Negev

January 5th Update:
Day Nine from Netivot

Last night was a sleepless one, but for good reason. We heard the noise of the IDF in action. Our boys, may Hashem watch over each and every one of them, went in to the hornets’ nest trying to clear out the scum who’ve made our lives untenable. My heart goes out to Dvir Amnoalof’s Mother, z’l. (He was our first casualty from the incursion into Gaza.) Hearing that she also lost her husband this year, I feel she must indeed be a remarkable woman to allow her son to join the Golani brigade, instead of taking a desk job in the IDF.
—Esther

When his friend described Dvir’s last phone call on the eve of his first mission in active combat, I was so moved. For Dvir had said he was sad that he had to go fight and perhaps kill, but felt the need to do so to protect those living in the south under continual rocket fire. I compare this gentle soldier’s words with the coarse bravado I’ve read on websites quoting American soldiers (may G-d bless them as well,) often mouthing phrases such as, “Gonna go there and kick some (&*%^*&%*& !!”

My youngest daughter was home for Shabbat from her college and was calm and happy until 5:50 last night despite several sirens and rockets throughout the day. My husband had just went to shul, and as I wrote in my last post here, when the rocket that caused a home nearby to collapse passed very near our home. This morning she awoke with horrendous nausea, and was sick. She was unable to swallow a thing and said she will not come home for Shabbat again until the rocketing ceases. So, we’ve found an empty apartment for this coming weekend. All my married children are thrilled, since during the week they can call throughout the day to inquire about our safety. Shabbat poses a 24-hr tense period when they are torn, trying to enjoy the calm Sabbath atmosphere while knowing we are on the front.

I tell this for one reason alone: Here is a healthy happy well-adjusted 18 year old in the prime of her young life. One week of worry about her family and two Shabbatot in Netivot changed her into a poorly functioning individual. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? So quickly? How in heaven’s name have my pupils in Sederot been living with this horror for close to eight years??? How have the adults there been coping with large families of small children under the continual stress of “colour red” sirens blaring? How come the world is so hypocritical? Isn’t a nation allowed to protect its citizens?

Apparently not. A short flip through web sites such as the NY Times; CNN; BBC and of course we see the poor child crying at her aunt’s funeral in Gaza and read about the family in Gaza City living in the hallway of their apartment eating cold food. Are we in a much better situation? Every siren heralds our buildings’ residents rushing into the stairway in the freezing cold in the middle of the night as we have no concrete walled “mamad” room that is capable of sustaining a direct hit. Thank goodness G-d is on our side! Witness the blatant miracles crying out to be named such instead of just “luck” the word often mouthed by our media. So, what is the difference between Gazans and Sederot’s citizens, so close to one another geographically?

The difference is that THEIR leaders have wrought the destruction. The Talmud clearly says that if a mouse eats food, it is blameless. Rather the HOLE that allowed the mouse inside is guilty. Well dear Gazan citizens, I do not jump for joy when your women and children are killed. I abhor the sterile term “collateral damage.” Every human being is created by G-d. However YOU chose to elect a radical Islamic party to rule you. THEY are using you as human shields. THEY do not recognize the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state. THEY are pleased to show your suffering to the cameras of the world. Perhaps those of you not well versed in the English language (unlike the many fluent lawyers we hear interviewed adnauseam) do not recognize the saying: “If you lie down with dogs you are apt to get fleas.” As the song says,”Don’t cry to me Argentina!”

2 responses to “Notes from Netivot – Esther Revivo

  1. Bat-Zion Benjaminson ⋅

    Esther,
    Thanks for a great blog. I went through the war here too. Good to read about it.
    I am an English speaking American olah who lives in Shokeda. My kids go to school in Netivot.
    I am eagerly searching for Anglo friends around here. Also I am trying to do a little fundraising for my kids’ school and would like a little background on the local Netivot politics, especially as they pertain to religious-secular community relations.
    Would you be my friend? : )
    Bat-Zion

  2. Pingback: March10/09 Purim « Let My People Know - talk about it now

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