Sunday, July 20, 2014

Now is the time for unity

Nadav Shragai

Hey, people are shooting here! We're talking, arguing, discussing, and wrangling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Could we ask for a little radio silence? Just for the near future. At this stage, when our sons are fighting in the Gaza Strip for their homes and their country, could we maybe stick to practical analysis and facts? After the war we'll have plenty of time to revisit to the old arguments and fights that have followed us since 1967. They won't let us be, anyway, and we won't let up on them.
Only a month ago we drew so much from the great spirit of three mothers and fathers after their children -- Gil-ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach -- were kidnapped. The wind in our sails steered our ship on a straight course, in unity and strong faith. Now we have all the reasons in the world to keep praying. Together -- observant and secular, Left and Right, in different languages -- but with a single heart, like we did then.
That spirit made slogans and cliches tangible. It made us acknowledge good and brought out the best in us: the ability to give thanks, love for soldiers and for the state, togetherness and what bring us together and concern for each other and a shared fate. That spirit shoved evil and cynicism and disagreements and divisiveness aside.

Now we once again need those powers of nobility, restraint, loving kindness, and mercy to rediscover the spirit behind the words of Ariel Horowitz's song from the time of Operation Cast Lead: "Like cyclamen between the rocks, the face of the land is hidden."
This is just the time to pull that face out of the boulders and the defenses and extend a hand "to give, not to take," just like the three mothers and the poet Naomi Shemer -- Horowitz's mother -- taught us. To remember that we are, first and last, one people whose enemy doesn't distinguish between those of us who hold different opinions.
* * *
Not for nothing Givati Brigade commander Col. Ofer Winter wrote in the briefing page for his soldiers that he lifted his eyes to the heavens and recited the Shema Israel prayer together with them. We don't have to be religiously observant to understand that Shema Israel expresses the shared Jewish destiny and is part of our DNA, that it is appropriate not only to a hero like Roi Klein, who called out "Shema Israel" as he threw himself on a grenade to save his soldiers, but also to lead Israel's soldiers in a war of no choice.
After the shooting stops, we'll go back to clarifications and debating the wisdom or foolishness of "containment," the ground operation and the air pummeling, war ethics and more, but not now. Now is the time to bring back moments of quiet and let the songs of prayer that accompanied our soldiers when they were looking for the kidnapped teens sink in. Let them accompany the soldiers who have set out to restore our lost calm and security.

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