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The Dream
Last uploaded : Wednesday 30th Jul 2003 at 22:43
Contributed by : Sheila Raviv


My friend Nira called me the other day. Her youngest son, Gadi, is joining up in the IDF (Israeli Defence Force). Call up papers for the IDF are sent out when the youngsters are 17 years old, in their last year of high school, so that they have time to be interviewed, put forward their choices so the army can decide which branch of the IDF is most suitable, both physically and psychologically. Parents aren't surprised by their child's conscription, but by the fact that their children are old enough to take on such adult responsibilities. Service in the IDF seals friendships for life and acts as a great social leveller. My conversation with Nira spilled over into a dream last night.

My dream took me back many generations watching
mothers send their sons off to defend their countries against attack. It was considered an act of patriotism and bravery, yet Mothers have cried since time began, whether their sons carried slingshots or sub-machine guns. I saw my father and grandfather who avoided serving in the marauding armies of Poland by hiding out in the woods yet marched in the streets of London
and Cardiff, filled with pride to serve the National Guard of Britain, protecting their adoptive country during the time of blitz and destruction, proud to wear the uniform of a democratic country.

I mixed with the men and women who sailed their small boats in a death defying armada across the English Channel in 1940 to rescue the allied soldiers stuck on the beaches of Dunkerque, Northern France. Ordinary people who approached their task with pragmatic courage and a great sense of camaraderie and loyalty.

I saw the train stations where British and Anzac
(Australian and New Zealand) soldiers set off for "the Continent" to beat Hitler's armies. They milled about saying farewell to their loved ones and I felt the sense of commitment which was tangible in their words and actions. The smoke from their "Senior Service" cigarettes and the steam from the train's engine mixed with the tears of the womenfolk who were left behind
to carry out the jobs that had been almost exclusively male. These young soldiers knew that there were no allies to stand by their side; that France had almost crumbled; that Italy was against them; Germany, Austria and places foreign to them held unknown horrors. As I walked through the crowds of young fresh faced men at Charing Cross Station I began to wonder what would have happened if there had been an
anti-war movement then. What about their officers, each one a soldier, each one educated in the very universities which today would refuse Israeli soldiers? If these self-righteous people had acted then as they act now we would all be under the rule of the Third Reich. There would be no European Economic
Community; there would be no discussion of Human
Rights; there would be no Human Rights.

When I woke up I thought about the dream. In those days it was accepted that one cannot live as an island surrounded by your own private waters. One cared about King and country, about your neighbours and their neighbours. It was OK to be a patriot and it was OK to defend your country from invasion, whether that invasion be by armies or by insidious thoughts. One cared about the rights of people in far off countries
and were prepared to defend their rights too. Times when courage, fortitude, mettle, pluck, heroism, patriotism and valour were not dirty words.

So let the doubters and the deriders follow their
selfish paths. There are strong young men like Gadi who follow three brothers into the Israeli Defence Force. Let him be the best person he can be. Let him defend this beautiful country and defeat those who would see her disappear. Let him make quite certain that the allies of Hitler never ever win a war.

While there are still enemies and until peace will reign, bring Gadi and all his fellow
soldiers home safely to enjoy the fruits of their
adulthood. I for one am very proud of them all.
Sheila Raviv is our correspondent in Jerusalem.


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