By: Rachel Kedar, Director of Educational Programs, ADL Israel
When ADL’s Jerusalem office recently met with a visiting American delegation, my colleagues and I each briefed them on our work and also said a few personal words.
This meeting occurred just after we learned that three Israeli teens had been kidnapped – abducted on a road just 5 minutes from where I live. I got very emotional and choked on my words. At that time, we did not know the fate of the boys, and thousands of soldiers were searching for them. I said to the visitors: “Carry the message back home that we are strong and united.”
I feel a strong need to reiterate this message while barrages of missiles are raining down on Israel.
While it is difficult to see Israeli citizens running for shelter, lying down on the city sidewalks and seeking shelter when a “red alert” siren blares, and having to explain to young children the situation, we are strong, we will cope, and will weather the storm as to allow the IDF to remove the threat.
My brother in law and his wife live in Kibbutz Alumim, south of Sderot, and near the Gaza border. Red alert has been their routine for many years. No bride wants to hear that guests are not coming to her wedding. No parent wants their child to spend summer camp in a sheltered room in the middle of Tel Aviv, (as happened to children who took part in an ADL educational activity this week).
There is no alternative but for us to respond. We thank G-D for the Iron Dome, which is intercepting many incoming rockets and missiles, and helps us from being engulfed in total panic as we try to maintain some sort of routine amidst these unbelievably difficult times.
Today, hearing the red alert reminds me of the sirens which broke the sanctity of Yom Kippur in 1973 when Israel was attacked on that holiest of days, when I was just a young girl playing jump rope on the streets of Jerusalem. It also reminds me of how I carried a gas mask to a wedding, during the First Gulf War. So you see, for Israelis, it seems like history repeats itself, though in different variations of leadership, enemy and length of fighting. And amidst all this craziness, and talk of an escalation of the conflict, the message coming from many Israelis is as clear as a bell: “Remove the threat. We are strong. We are united and we will weather the storm.”