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Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, her son Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier’s Mother. The blog continues as Elie begins Reserve Duty and her son Shmulik is now a soldier. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish.
Links to the Author's blogs:
September 11 was about innocent victims and terrorism. How telling that the Turks use and abuse this event for their own political and cynical gains.
It is dangerous to be an Israeli in Turkey today. The families of Israeli diplomats have come back to Israel, as a cautionary move against possible violence. The diplomats, so far, have not been recalled. The flotilla fiasco is, according to some in Turkey, their 9/11. Of all the discussions I have heard, all the comments from all sides, this is perhaps the most telling.
September 11 was a day in which 50,000 people were attacked, more if you count the Pentagon and still more if you understand it was as much an attack on the United States itself, rather than “only” the World Trade Center. September 11 was a day in which innocence was attacked. Those who care more about making a point than reality, could argue that those in the Pentagon might not have been innocent, but no rational human being can say that those who perished, and those who survived, had done anything to justify what happened.
No, September 11 was about innocent victims and terrorism. How telling that the Turks use and abuse this event for their own political and cynical gains. The flotilla was not about humanitarian aid. No one can seriously believe that when Israel had constantly, even the day before, made public announcements that it was prepared to deliver the cargo to Gaza, once it was checked for security reasons and smuggling of contraband or weaponry.
Seriously, is there anyone in the world who doesn’t know about the hundreds of tunnels we have found and stopped, the endless smuggling of drugs, women, explosives, missiles and more that constantly flows into Gaza? It cannot be. I refuse to believe it.
It is possible people are unaware of the tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel – of the damage that has been caused here, the loss of life in Israel? I know the world has not forgotten the Gaza War – they are still looking for ways to condemn Israel. Even Richard Goldstone, the hanging judge of South Africa, admits to the rocket attacks and the damage we have sustained, even Richard Goldstone.
A naval blockade was legally declared. The flotilla refused to comply. From there, the situation is clear.
So clearly, Israel was justified in demanding our right to protect our citizens and verify that the cargo was innocent. Turkish citizens and others took to the waters. A naval blockade was legally declared. The flotilla refused to comply. From there, the situation is clear.
Israel attempted to board the ships. In all honesty, though I am not a military person, I can see that the soldiers believed they were dropping down into a ship of activists – the very humanitarian and peace-loving people they claimed they would be. It would be a matter of arrest, transfer, pack up the cargo, deliver it. End of story.
But the people on the ship were not the innocents of 9/11. I don’t remember seeing anyone beating, stabbing, and shoving others from heights. I remember people helping others, crying, hugging, and most of all, running in fear for their lives as the terrorist threat turned into reality.
The flotilla “peace activists” had metal clubs with which they beat soldier after soldier. With the knives on board, vicious, long and sharp weapons of violence, they stabbed one courageously – in the back – and shoved him over the railing to drop 30 feet. Other brave protesters were busy cracking a soldier’s skull, grabbed weapons of others, and opened fire on our soldiers (and likely on their fellow passengers). These were not peace activists, but violent protesters with a cause…and the cause was not humanitarian aid to Gaza.
A full forty minutes passed before the soldiers were given permission to fight back for their lives, to open fire. The videos show this, taken from above and watched by thousands. News reporters heard the soldiers calling, one to the other, “don’t shoot, don’t shoot.” This is what they were trained to do and despite being beaten, they stuck to the training and did not meet deadly force with deadly force for a full 40 minutes.
For me, I am entranced with the concept that this violent act, this battle on the seas, could be compared to a massive terrorist attack against unsuspecting people on their way to work. The protesters were not unarmed as were the people of the World Trade Center; the protesters were not taken unaware. Knives were on board for this purpose (you don’t even cut a thick steak with the knives these protesters wielded).
Unsuspecting? This was at sea, out in the open – the flotilla was approached, warned repeatedly and loudly – yes, there are videos of these warnings (and again the offer to deliver the cargo to Gaza). A helicopter hovered over their heads as they planned their ambush and their victims – yes, their victims – were fed to them one by one as the soldiers dropped to the ships, each taken and viciously beaten. Each soldier was confronted by three or more armed men before he had even landed and the first blows often started while the soldier was still descending. Peace activists? No, not even close. Unsuspecting? Seriously not. Unarmed? Not even close.
I do not know if the American government of Barack Hussein Obama will take issue with what the Turks are now claiming, the message they are trying to float to the world. I do not know if the world is stupid enough to believe that those aboard were innocent.
Already yesterday and today, the contents of most of the ships has been transferred to Gaza – as promised before this whole fiasco, less the knives and other weapons found. A friend suggested that what Is
Already yesterday and today, the contents of most of the ships has been transferred to Gaza – as promised before this whole fiasco, less the knives and other weapons found.
rael should have done was send their commandos under the waters to simply pull the “plugs” on the ships, open a hole in the bottoms – and just let them sink.
We would be there to rescue those who wished to be rescued, let others rescue them, or let them drown. Had we done that, ten of our soldiers would not have been wounded, two in critical condition from the brutal attacks. And, had we done that, perhaps so many protesters would not have died and been injured. Of course, Gaza would not have gotten the aid it now has, but then again, that was never the point anyway.
I have now become a proponent of the concept of “retro-active sinking.” Should more flotillas come, and they will – we should sink the ships, simple as that. Those on board can sink or swim, be rescued or drowned. They wanted pictures of violence – they got them. That was expected, acceptable and inevitable.
Calling it Turkey’s 9/11 was not expected, should not be acceptable and though it might have been inevitable, it must be condemned. More than 50,000 innocent, unsuspecting people were attacked in the most brutal terrorist attack this world has seen. To compare that to the pre-planned battle and its consequences on the flotilla is obscene and must not be tolerated. In the strongest terms, Obama and others must demand a full apology and retraction from the Turks. Sadly, the Turks are so busy protesting and attacking all things Israeli and Jewish they can find, they are likely not to hear.
Shmulik is undergoing the hardest part of army service - the basic training. There is no leeway given to soldiers, no extras. Though the army watches them carefully...and watches out for them, they give the soldier the impression that they do not care, that the soldier is merely a part of a great machine.
This time around...I expected more from the army...and in return, the experience is worse. For a variety of reasons, this is coming harder for Shmulik than it was for Elie. This is actually funny because Shmulik went into the army in better physical condition. Years ago, when he was around 14, he was a bit pudgy (is that a word?). I wasn't concerned because I was sure he would grow out of it as Elie had...as my husband had when he was the same age.
Not only did Shmulik grow very quickly, but he got in shape. He started exercising and strengthening his muscles. But more, he went on a diet and lost weight. So much so, that I was afraid he was too thin and took him to the doctor.
“How do you feel?” the doctor asked my son.
“Fine,” Shmulik answered. The doctor turned to me and asked what the problem was. I explained that he’d gone on a diet and lost weight…but I thought it was too much. He throws up sometimes, I explained, and I was getting nervous.
The doctor weighed him and measured him…and asked him if he was forcing himself to throw up. Shmulik looked a bit surprised at the idea and answered that he wasn’t…it just happened sometimes.
The doctor asked him what his favorite foods were. “I don’t know,” Shmulik said with some hesitation, “Pizza? Ice cream?”
“He’s normal,” said the doctor. “Leave him alone.”
That was years ago. Since then, Shmulik has been into exercise and food. He eats well, sometimes snacks too much, balances it out. I thought he’d sail through the army as Elie did. It isn’t happening.
So that’s the update on Shmulik, who is still complaining of headaches but is hopefully settling in and, in any event, coming home on Friday morning.
As for Elie, the explanations, the decompression continues. Yesterday came yet another really funny story. He was explaining how the army takes new soldiers out into the field. It simulates battle conditions – less food, less sleep. And, as part of this, it collects all of their watches. From the first, they are taught the importance of time…to the minute they are given tasks to do…and then suddenly, the minutes still count, but the time of day is gone. After a little while, they return the watches set to 12:00. They’ve already been out in the field for hours. They can’t tell any more what time it is. Time of day has no meaning…the hours blend together, the days. It is meant to confuse you, disorient you…and it probably worked…
well…sort of…once upon a time…
This is where modern technology defeats the old army way. The concept of taking the watches and resetting them was created at a time…when there were likely no cellular phones. Or, if there were…they made phone calls.
Apparently, the army overlooked this flaw in their logic when Elie’s group was taken out to the field and so they held onto this anchor. The goal of the army is to make you improvise, make you follow orders, but thinking is valued too.
I'd say that one went to the soldiers!