Sunday, July 30, 2006

They're not what you've been told, they're our neighbors' kids. 

You are being led to believe that Israel's soldiers are a bloodthirsty lot who apparently can't restrain themselves from blowing up Lebanese civilians for fun and sport.

Forget that the building in Qana was supposed to have been empty of civilians after days of leafletted warnings and unmistakable nearby attacks. Forget that this civilian area was the launching point for over a hundred missiles that have been aimed and fired without regret or remorse into the civilian heart of our cities for two and a half weeks. Forget that the intended target of the strike was Nasrallah's missiles and their Hizballah crews cowering inside the building between launches -- Hizballah forces that knew full well who was in the basement, even if the IDF did not. Forget that the IDF had done all it could, and had every reason to believe it was targeting missile crews, not civilians.

You are just supposed to believe that civilian death is what Israel's military wants.

I'll guarantee you it's not.

Because I know these soldiers. We know these soldiers. They're our neighbors' kids. They're all of our kids -- for some of us literally so. We've known them since they were little. They've grown up in front of us, we've watched how they're raised. We've watched them shoot hoops, and play games in the street. We've bought cotton candy from their neighborhood stand. We've followed their musical ambitions, saw them play in the band.

We know who they are, and who they are not. They're not killers but defenders, the best that we've got.

These kids were not raised on a steady diet of Kill-the-"Other" propaganda. They were not raised to believe a neighboring country should be eradicated -- but that it should live beside us in peace instead of attacking us. They were not raised to believe civilians are pawns in a struggle for the sympathy of the global media or the diplomats wandering the world's plushest halls. Nor were they raised to believe that death is a greater good than life. They were simply raised with the wish to live here in peace, and to do good. That these good kids must now take up arms to defend us, their neighbors, is one of the least known tragedies in this conflict: warfare is not what they were raised for, violence never their calling. They were raised with books, not guns.

They're barely young men, so recently kids, yet forced to assume the responsibility of defending the rest of us from a murderous, genocide-pushing Sheik and the country he's hijacked. And while enemy fighters exultantly rocket our civilians while hiding behind their own, our young soldiers struggle to defend us while being held accountable by the morally blind for the well-being of those same civilians whose presence, never noted as shields, is loudly trumpeted once they are victims.

Were you ready to deal with something like that when you were 20 and partying in college? Our neighbors' kids aren't partying in college. They're heroes, risking their lives to protect us from an enemy that violates the most basic laws of conflict -- that civilians must be protected from combat, not herded into the middle of it -- forcing our young men to defend us with the utmost care, lest the slightest mistake or misfortune of circumstance bring that tragic result they all fear yet must somehow cope with. And worse, this enemy puts our neighbors' kids in the position of living with the knowledge that some civilians may die no matter what they do, whether that tragedy befall Lebanese through their action, or their own families through inaction.

All these heroes are our neighbors' kids. They're all our kids. And whatever you might think, whatever you've been told, we're damned proud of them.

Learn about one of these brave and righteous chayalim (soldiers) here, at the American Chayal Home Page.

Thanks Eli.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: