Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel Hits Gaza and Shministim?

I have got to say, writing on issues is more difficult than I thought it would be. All of a sudden, I am wondering how accurate my facts are, whether I have all the info, should I really write certain info - I get into an internal moral debate as I contemplate topics/issues to write...this is not fun.

I do not envy journalists. And unlike a journalist, I am not paid to write about specific goings-on and I have no deadline (which can be a good or bad thing). I do; however, have an acquaintance who is a journalist who writes for a major Canadian paper. He has been living in the Middle East for a couple of years, reporting on the people and the fighting in Israel in particular. Not an easy job to say the least. He has learned many things about both sides (the Israelis and the Palestinians) and has been shown the goodness of the human spirit from both sides (- that should keep a good journalist objective in their reporting...). In days of late, the ceasefire between the Israelis and the Palestinians has ended (over a week ago) and the Palestinians have been conducting random hits upon Israel; meanwhile, Israel has decided they have had enough and threw some bombs at Gaza killing over 200. Fight war with war, right?

In another area of action, there has been a movement happening amongst Israeli students. You see, when you finish high school at 17, you automatically enter into military training and service for a 2 year period before you continue on with your life (should you live through that 2 years, and to be fair, most do). At any time after this 2 year training period, you can be called into military service. If you refuse to participate in the military training, you can be placed in jail for 7-28 days and if you refuse to wear the military uniform during that jail time, you spend the your time in jail in solitary confinement. If at the end of this time you continue to refuse to enter into service, you can end up in jail again...and again...

As I am writing this, I have just received a letter from Jewish Voice for Peace - ironic...

Anyhow, this refusal of service is also known in Hebrew as "Shministim".

Now, one might wonder, when you get to thinking about things, that perhaps, this mandatory enlisting into military service does less to bring peace to this war torn area so much as it offers fuel to the Minds of war. Think about it. Is a constant stream of guaranteed recruits the answer or is there a better way? That is what this movement is about. Change for Peace. And certainly you cannot blame these high school students from wanting to create a better way. What kind of life is it that you are surrounded by war day in and day out? Never knowing if someone is going to blow themselves up or an air strike is going to hit you as you are walking down the street...

About 6 years ago, I had the privilege of meeting a Jewish family from Haifa who was in town (in Canada) visiting family and teaching some dance classes. They had a daughter that was 13 at the time and she was very quiet. Outside, she would look no one in the eye as she walked quickly to wherever she was going. Inside at the dance studio, we had balloons for the kids. One of the balloons popped and this girl jumped and immediately looked for her mom. Even before the scraps of the first balloon could be picked up another balloon popped. That was it. The girl broke into tears and clung to her mother begging her to leave...right then, to go someplace safe. This was a 13 year old girl! She was traumatized! Apparently a few weeks before they arrived in Canada, her father and her sister were late getting to the bus they would normally take home from the school that he worked at and she attended. That bus that they take everyday to and from their home was blown up by a suicide bomber that day. They were blessed to have been late that day. The family can hear the gunshots and bombings fairly regularly, and it is enough to leave such an impact on a 13 year old that she cannot even find any sense of peace in knowing it was only a balloon that popped. Can you imagine living like this day in and day out?! War. Fear.

So, when I hear of these students who want to change how they address the unrest in Israel, I can only offer my support and my prayers.

What do you think? Is this movement a realistic solution towards bringing peace to Israel?

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