Yesterday we saw Syria.
Across the border, we heard rockets and booms and saw a puff of smoke.
And on the Israeli side, there was silence–a deceptive quiet.
Yesterday, we heard from Nir Atir, a former commander in the IDF who fought on the border with Syria during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. On the last day of Hanukkah, he told us about the many in the hands of the few–this time, it was the ~3 Israeli tanks against the ~60 Syrian tanks. He told us how despite all the odds, the Israelis persevered on their holiest holiday and saved Israel from what was sure to be a defeat, bringing peace and quiet to the region.
Later, we went to Kibbutz Misgav Am on the border of Lebanon. Beirut was a 40 minute drive away, but again the border was quiet. We heard about the Israeli efforts from 1982 to 2000, and then again in 2006, to secure peace for the Israelis of the North.
The general feeling was one of peace–the wars are in the past, and Israel is finally safe from its neighbors in the north.
But finally, we drove about 15 minutes from Misgav Am to an army base on the border of Lebanon. There we saw soldiers–regular draftees and reserves–in combat gear and with tanks. It was then that I realized that the situation in the north could change with the drop of a hat–and that if it did, Israel and the IDF have to be prepared.
That realization was a sobering one–after years of war, Israel still needs to be constantly vigilant, their soldiers always ready for war. And if they need to be ready, then to a similar degree so do we, as college activists.
The ZOA mission to Israel will prepare us to be constantly vigilant on campus, and that’s why I’m so grateful for today and for the rest of this trip.