MOURNING DOVES, MERKAVAS AND M-16s

Posted: July 14, 2011 in Israel
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October 22, 2010
Original Draft
Published in Canadian Volunteers For Israel (CVI) website and Canadian Newsletter January 2011

MOURNING DOVES, MERKAVAS AND M-16s

It was a quiet Shabbat morning in the Haifa Soldier House; Rosh Hashanah 2010 (1st Tishrei 5771). The building was nearly empty except for about 20 or more of us “Lone Soldiers”. A lovely Druze IDF veteran sat quietly at the desk, behind a security glass – considering the remote lives of his children studying all over the world – preparing for professions – outside the perpetual war zone that Israel’s ‘neighbours’ and the ‘global community’ force upon the state of Israel.

A spectacular Shabbat meal was served for us the night before, complete with ceremonies prayers and song. It was remarkably touching to me – these Jewish youth from all over the world, here alone to serve in this remarkable military – celebrating the New Year with a Christian ‘Goy’ who was three times their age. Male and female, Russian, American, French. . . eager to talk about the challenges of life on the bases, life ‘back home’ and the situation Israel finds itself in; eager to talk about their aspirations for a life in the future.

The large, echoing mezzanine was quiet except for the cooing of the mourning doves. The sleepy halls displayed the posters of the fighting men and women – special forces, navy, air force and armor, depicting the bond that both sustains and breaks the hearts of these beautiful, talented and lion-hearted young people. They are forced to fight for their lives every 2 years in conventional war and every day in unconventional terrorist attacks.

From the 4 corners of the earth they stream as their prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah predicted 2500 years ago. They mix their blood with their Jewish brothers and sisters from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Byelorussia, from Yemen and Iran and Iraq, from Argentina, Uruguay and New York; Boca Rotan, Montreal and Moscow, creating the most beautiful people on earth. The beauty of Africa mixes with the beauty of Asia and Europe. Languages, physiognomy, complexion, eye-color, customs, beliefs, conflicts and accommodations converge on a tiny piece of real estate to create an impossible people in an impossible nation: Am Israel in Erutz Israel. *

Their enemies, their neighbours, Europe, their ‘friends’ and the United Nations (who keep betraying them with deceitful treaties) hate them with a visceral rage that borders on the psychotic. Much as ‘the nations’ wish Israel would disappear off the face of the earth so that the utopian fantasy of ‘world peace’ could be accomplished (through the global Reich, global Communism or the global Caliphate) yet Israel remains.

When Noah sent out the dove to see if any land had emerged from the waters, she came back with an olive branch in her ‘mouth’. The symbolism explodes on the page: the dove, symbol of innocence, symbol of peace; the lowliest sacrifice of the Temple period for the poorest of people. The IDF uniform: olive color instead of ‘desert camouflage’ (the most appropriate color) – again the symbol of the Jewish hope for peace. The olive – served for medicine, food and light all of which Israel provides to the world. . . Amidst this realization, something happened to me.

That morning, for me I heard the doves mourn. . . because instead of the peace they yearn these dear young soldiers are issued Merkavas and M-16s, and have to suspend their lives for 2 to 3 years just so they and their loved ones can live. These sweet, young, determined faces are hated by the world, blamed for all the world’s ills, targets for humiliation, torture and death. They are hated for existing and they do not understand why.

Roger Brian Neill
Vancouver, B.C.

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