My son is in the army. He is not the type at all, believe me. Quiet, studious, a writer, a lover of Jewish history, Talmud, ethics. He spent two years in a pre-army program in the Galilee called Karmei Hayil. He made many good friends there from all over the country, and now he and all his friends are in the army.
One of them I know well. A bit chubby, with payot (sidelocks) and a great laugh. He and my son have become like brothers. While both of them tried out for the elite paratroopers unit, only his friend made it in. He and his unit are the ones in Lebanon. They were there over a week, fighting under horrific conditions, running out of food and water. Even though the Israel Air Force dropped tons of leaflets warning civilians to flee because they were in terrorist territory and likely to be injured, they still encountered civilians.
My son spoke to his friend yesterday, and this is how he described it: "The village looked empty, and then we heard noises coming from one of the houses, so we opened fire. But when we went inside, we found two women and a child huddled in the corner of the room. We were so relieved we hadn't hurt them. We took up base in one of the empty houses. And then all of a sudden, we came under intense fire. Three rockets were fired at the house we were in. Only one managed to destroy a wall, which fell on one of us, covering him in white dust, but otherwise not hurting him.
"I spent the whole time feeding bullets to my friend who was shooting nonstop. We managed to kill 26 terrorists. Not one of us was hurt. Our commanding officer kept walking around, touching everybody on the shoulder, smiling and encouraging us: 'We're are better than they are. Don't worry.' It calmed us all down. And really, we were much better than them. They are a lousy army. They only win when they hide behind baby carriages."
Please remember this when you hear about the "atrocity" of the Israeli bomb that killed many civilians in Kafr Qana, a place from which Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel. Unlike previous administrations, Mr. Olmert has my respect when he says: "They were warned to leave. It is the responsibility of Hezbollah for firing rockets amid civilians."
Terrorists and their supporters have lost the right to complain about civilian casualties, since all they have is one goal: this entire war is to target civilians. Every single one of the more than 2,500 rockets launched into Israel, is launched into populated towns filled with women and children. Just today, another explosive belt meant to kill civilians in Israel was detonated harmlessly by our forces in Nablus.
So don't cry to me about civilian casualties. Cry to those using babies and wives and mothers; cry to those who store weapons in mosques, ambulances, hospitals and private homes. Cry to those launching deadly rockets from the backyards of kindergartens and schools. Cry to the heartless men who love death, and however many of their troops or civilians die, consider themselves victorious as long as they can keep on firing rockets at our women and children.
Save your sympathy for the mothers and sisters and girlfriends of our young soldiers who would rather be sitting in study halls learning Torah, but have no choice but to risk their precious lives full of hope, goodness and endless potential, to wipe out the cancerous terrorist cells that threaten their people and all mankind. Make your choice, and save your tears.
That terrorists have been unsuccessful in killing more of our women and children is due to our army, God and prayers, not to any lack of motivation or intention on their part. If you hide behind your baby to shoot at my baby, you are responsible for getting children killed. You and you alone.
The writer is an American-born novelist and playwright who lives in Jerusalem.
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