My 7-year-old’s school is taking up a care package collection for Israeli soldiers serving in Gaza.
This business of organizing little gifties with little notes for military personnel serving in a conflict an hour & a half’s drive from my Tel Aviv home is a new experience for me.
Because during my growing up years, the closest I ever came to participating in organized support for a cause was when our private school bussed the lot of us downtown to Cincinnati’s Fountain Square where we sat on the frigid cobblestone in mid-winter listening to speakers calling for the Soviet Union to Let the Refuseniks Go!
So when I consulted with my son about the care package – What do you want to include? Maybe a few marbles? Some chocolate bars? That cool leather bracelet you got as a gift that you never wear? – and told him that per the teacher’s suggestion we should add a personal note from him, he asked me a rather interesting question. One, in my opinion, that I failed to answer adequately.
When the current Gaza incursion began nearly three weeks ago, my son and I were staying with friends in northern Israel for the weekend. About midday we heard a stream of jets flying overhead. For those in the know, there is no mistaking the sound of fighter jets. And being the Jewish Sabbath and all – a day Israel’s army doesn’t train – it was clear “something was going down.”
Could the Gaza Operation be starting already? I asked our hosts. The Israeli government had made it clear there would be an incursion but they had also said it would take place sometime after Sunday’s Cabinet session. Ha ha. Part of the plan. Surprise attack!
I try to keep my son away from regional news or gory details I don’t think he necessarily needs to know. But as we ventured out for lunch a half hour later, he asked what was going on as my friends and I pointed overhead at yet another band of departing fighter planes. That’s the Israeli army & they’re going down to a place called Gaza, I explained.
He wanted to know the distance from us to Gaza, why soldiers would be going there and whether or not we were safe. I briefed him in the briefest manner possible.
But when we returned to the cozy warmth of our friends’ home, while channel surfing to find Cartoon Network I glimpsed the first Gaza aftermath images on Sky. The journalist in me couldn’t help but pause to take in scenes of wounded Palestinians rushing to Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital Emergency Room.
My son demanded an explanation. Remember the planes we saw? These are the people in Gaza who were hurt when the planes bombed there…and I quickly got off the channel and the subject.
And I didn’t bring it up again.
So when I asked him about the care package, he asked me: But mom, shouldn’t we be sending it to the people in Gaza?
And well…hmmm? So I explained why the soldiers were in Gaza and told him about the militants sending rockets to Israel.
And he said that wasn’t right either.
And then he threw up his hands and said he didn’t want to send anything to anyone.
And I totally understood.