BETRAYING BRAVE BOYS
War makes the memories of the boys I knew and who are no longer come flooding back. I grew up in
In those days, it was war with the Arab states.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had said that precision strikes were being lobbed "with great humanity." (A strange word to use about bombs sent directly into
We lived in a place similar to, but not quite like, a Kibbutz. It was quite safe for a child to wander about along the paths, as I was doing at the time. A man grabbed me and carried me down to the underground shelter. The border with
When the war was over, 759 men were dead and about 3,000 had been wounded. Arab casualties came to about 15,000. A nation's Remembrance Days become more gut wrenching when war is up close and personal. These agonizing days are devoted to the men who are gone. Those who return dazed and confused are often forgotten.
Thanks to both his legendary wit and lack of coordination, my own father was only ever consigned to being the jester and coffee maker for the engineering corps with which he was stationed. But I'd overhear a lot of whispering about maimed buddies and missing digits.
The Yom Kippur War
When that war ended, Remembrance Day swelled to include another 2,523 casualties—about one-tenth of one percent of the population was dead. Thousands more were wounded. The casualty estimates for
These days, I think a lot about Avshalom. The Avshalom I knew was as beautiful as his biblical namesake, King David's son. Avshalom had dimples to die for, big brown eyes, and blond, sun-streaked curls. The vision of him, shirtless, on a red
Avshalom was 19 or 20 years old when he died. Like all Israeli boys, he was conscripted and he fell in some or other maneuver. My class lost another boy. There may have been others since, but I've lost touch.
This much I know: The Israeli people loathe war. Living with such obscene carnage was bearable only when the alternative was conquest and national death. When the people learned the truth about the Lebanon War—that it was a grand offensive hatched by leadership—and when the boys kept dying, the Israeli people—Left and Right—flooded the streets. They formed human chains from Tel-Aviv to
When this grandiose war on
Low opportunity costs, folks: The average American doesn't associate the war with prohibitive costs to himself. Few of us know anyone who is in harm's way. Thanks to the armchair warriors' propaganda, Americans will not associate loss of jobs, a weak dollar, unstable financial markets, taxes, and deficits with the war. On the surface, and for now, our lives remain unaltered. With few visible costs to foot, what's the big deal?
Perhaps if Americans were unable to go about their daily lives, like Iraqis, or Israelis, or Egyptians, or Syrians or Lebanese, or Palestinians during the wars in that region; perhaps if every American personally knew an Avshalom, perhaps then they wouldn't be as eager to send men to kill and be killed.
Make no mistake, our soldiers are brave. But is our nation brave? What I learned growing up in a war-torn region is that a brave nation fights because it must; a cowardly one fights because it can.
©By ILANA MERCER
March 26, 2003