Noa Amir and Aviv Shabo
About three weeks ago, Aviv and I, with all of the Toronto area Shinshinim, flew home to Israel for our winter break. The vacation was great, we loved finally seeing our family and friends - but that experience - that normal experience - is not actually what I want to talk to you about today.
As typical teenagers, when we landed in Israel we all turned on our phones the second the airplane landed. It’s what we do. We did the same thing when we landed back in Toronto, but instead of seeing all the messages we got from friends and family - we saw the notification from the Israeli news, saying that there was a terror attack in Jerusalem.
I know it's going to sound weird, but even we become numb to the terror sometimes. It's not easy to say, but there have been so many terror attacks in the last few years - that I feel like it's a normal, horrible thing that just happens every now and then. And to be clear - I know that is not right . But it is always about someone, who attacked someone, somewhere. But this time it felt different.
This time, the terror was aimed a large group of soldiers. For me, as an 18 year old Israeli girl, soon to be 19, I'm should be in the army right now. I have just delight it to be here. This time, when I heard that 4 soldiers died, one officer and 3 that are right now are in their officer's course, I suddenly thought about my friends that are in those positions and that it actually could have been them - or maybe me if I joined the IDF when I was supposed to.
Later a friend of mine, Idan, called me and said that Yael Yekutiel, the officer who died this morning, was a good friend of his. He said that tomorrow morning he is leaving his base early to go to the funeral. Then, my Facebook feed started filling up with my more and more friends posts, mourning their friends. I saw at least 5 posts about each casualty, from people I actually knew.
Terror attacks in Israel are not new, nor are attacks against soldiers. But soldiers represent Israel and they are a big target. And now - my friends, and soon me, we will be those targets. That is something I think I am just beginning to wrap my brain around.
The next war in Israel is going to be different. The fighters, the people who will defend my country and my family - they are going to be people that went to school with me, who shared a tent in camp with me and maybe even they will be myself and Aviv.
While writing this Dvar I'm having a dialogue with myself, trying to understand that I am now at the stage in my life where my friends are in the army - and I'm next. It is a lot to take in right now, even for kids who were born and raised in Israel for their entire life hoping that "when we will grow up there will be no army anymore".
But to tell the truth - there is an army in Israel because Israel needs one.
And in less than a year from now, when I will be a part of it, I will walk with my uniform in the streets with pride. I will not be afraid and I will not hide. But I will still have these thoughts.
Remember - we Israelis are not afraid. We live in a complicated country and we live a complicated life, but we do not live in fear. And if you visit Israel remind yourself that there is nothing to be scared of, you can walk proudly in the streets and enjoy the most beautiful, amazing and complicated country in the entire world.
Terror has always been a way to attack governments and people, and we all agree it’s wrong and we should condemn it. But it is not the only way to attack countries. In our global community, there are political acts that actually have a similar impact - to harm, hurt, and when it comes to Israel - to attack our very identity as the homeland of the Jewish people. At the United Nations, their goal is supposed to be about keeping our world at peace It is a place where a country can go to get help in changing other country's behavior by complaining about it.
And there are, as you know, too many places around the globe where horrible things are done to people and where countries are at war or conduct violence against another sovereign country. Yet, 87% of the resolutions against countries are against Israel. that small country, the only democracy in the middle east, gets all the attention when it comes to what people think are violations of human rights. I strongly believe that by his anti-Israeli policy, the UN is hurting Israel. It’s not exactly terrorism that takes individuals lives, but it has a devastating impact, it’s absolutely not right, and I believe it encourages actual terrorism. To use an example, if a brother sees that it is ok to make fun of his sister, or even make her feel bad, because when others do it his parents do nothing - what will he learn about how he should treat her. Won’t he do the same thing? Won’t he think she doesn’t deserve anything better? Won’t he at one point physically push or hit her? We learn through examples, and the UN is the worst example when they are supposed to be the best.
On November 29th 1947 - the United Nations passed a resolution that stood by the creation of a Jewish state in the land of Israel. 6 months after, during a war, David Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the Jewish state, and one of the main reasons for this establishment, he explained, was the support of the UN. So basically, the UN was the main body that believed the Jewish nation deserved a state. So can someone explain to me, how come one of the biggest successes of this organization is now its biggest victim all over the world? Why does that country find itself alone over and over again? Well it is mainly because the world has changed and so has the UN. But at least we always had the US with us right?
Well maybe. Maybe not.
What happened three weeks ago has proved there is another reality today in 2017. 14 countries out of 15 voted against Israel and passed a resolution that Israel is doing international crimes by building on and defending its own land. And the US didn't object. So who do we have in this world now? In my opinion, we just have ourselves - Israelis and the diaspora who love and support Israel.
I don't trust anyone else, I don't see any changes coming to the UN anytime soon - and if you believe recent reports - we should hold on to our seats for even more damaging resolutions in the coming months.
So even though I believe everyone in this room today does love and support Israel, I do want to ask you, if I may, to stand by Israel when you hear someone who calls for the boycott, or spreads any other lies about Israel's policies. Tell him the truth. Tell him about the justice, about the progress and the development. Tell him about the democracy, the freedom, and the rights. Tell him there is not even one country in the world that has become what we have in such a short time. Because Israel is us. We do share the same values. Even though it's 10 hours from here (and that’s a lot, trust me) we need to stand strong and support each other. Each one of us can have a part in Israel's war to survive as the homeland of the Jewish people - despite what terrorists and the UN seem to want right now. We don't need the UN. But we do need each other.
Aviv and Noa