I called Elie today. I've been missing him a lot, which is, of course, silly since I just saw him last weekend. Life is particularly pressured right now and it seems to have manifested itself in a number of ways, including this feeling of being out of touch. So, I called with a ready excuse about the cellular phone company service. Elie asked me if I was near a computer and when I told him I would be in 5 minutes, we agreed that I would call him back after I got home.
He guided me to a website - "Go to YNET," he said, explaining that I needed to go to the Hebrew news site and not the English one. "click News."
He guided me to a news article and asked me to capture the video. It took me a while to understand the story and what the video was showing. The story goes like this - at least the published one:
An Arab truck driver pulls up to a checkpoint at 6:30 a.m. with proper paperwork. His truck is filled with rocks designated for building. The soldiers inspect the truck and ask the truck driver to dump his load so they can check under the rocks. The truck driver complies. The truck is emptied. The soldiers don't find anything and allow the truck driver to continue. However, in order to continue, he must now hire a tractor to pick up the rocks and put them back into his truck. This is at his expense and his lost time.
"How can we live this way? What kind of life is this?" another Arab tells the camera.
I watched it a few times and then called Elie back. What am I missing, I thought to myself. This doesn't make "us" look good.
"Where you there?" I asked Elie. I had looked each of the soldiers carefully, but I didn't see Elie. Then again, some were turned away and from the distance, it is hard to tell.
"No," Elie told me. "But they're my soldiers. I can tell who they are, and even who isn't in the camera but was there."
"Elie, what's the story here? It doesn't look good."
That's when Elie explained. The driver isn't so innocent. He's known to the soldiers. The fact that THIS TIME his truck wasn't carrying anything that he wasn't allowed to transport, doesn't mean he wasn't caught in the past. More important that the story, for the soldiers in Elie's unit, were the comments. Almost 70 of them, "and Ima, all of them are good. They all understand."
Yes, they are supporting the soldiers and that is what made Elie happy.
- Don't surrender to them. Much honor to the army.
- And what would you say if between the stones, you found explosives?
- it's difficult to stand at a checkpoint and spend hours guarding for eight hours and have people come and question all that you do. As one of those who examine the merchandise and goods that are brought across checkpoints, I try also to do the best I can for each side. It isn't easy to sleep at night knowing that you could end up passing through explosives or the next suicide bomber. So to all those who have a complaint against the army or the soldiers, keep it to yourself. (Signed a Soldier on a Checkpoint).
- Nothing wrong with what was done. If they let them pass without being checked, then I would say that there is a problem. Kol Hakavod (all honor) to the soldiers for doing a great job, protecting all the people who sit in Tel Aviv and always complain.
- It is obviously a security issue. A full truck comes to a checkpoint. How is a soldier supposed to know that there are no explosives inside? It's obvious the rocks aren't the issue. It's something I learned as a soldier. If we don't check, the Arabs learn and bring in explosives. It doesn't matter that in this truck, there was nothing. Now they see us checking and won't bring in explosives that harm our civilians. Kol Hakavod to the soldiers.
And on it went, comment after comment, in Hebrew and in English. What the soldiers did was correct. This time, the truck didn't have explosives; this time, nothing was hidden under the rocks. On the same day this happened, several knives and firebombs were found at other checkpoints. Perhaps this wouldn't have made the news if something had been found. Yes, the driver was inconvenienced; yes, it is a sign of the situation in which we find ourselves.
And as the many commentators wrote...and as our soldiers read - all honor to our soldiers. So many times our soldiers feel that the world doesn't understand their work. This time, they understood, they read. The article wasn't very positive, trying, as YNET often does, to paint our soldiers in a bad way and yet the readers proved to the soldiers that what they did was correct.
THIS time, the truck had nothing on it so the driver will go on his way. But just as important, many other drivers who might have thought to smuggle something through that checkpoint will understand that the soldiers are checking. A friend, who daughter was killed several years ago in the Sbarro pizza bombing attack once yelled at a reporter who was concerned about the conditions under which the Palestinians live and the damaged "quality of life" they may experience because of the security situation.
"Don't you dare talk to me about the quality of their life," the bereaved father answered, "when my daughter has no life."
Sometimes, what seems wrong, is really right and what is right, seems wrong. I am often told that peace will come to the Middle East when the Israelis do certain things. Stop the occupation, they say, and there will be peace. But there was no peace in 1966, before the so-called occupation began. All the return of the refugees, people say - but we too had hundreds of thousands of refugees and we took them in, gave them homes and a land and a part of our future.
There are so many issues in the Middle East that can be summed up very simply, though the world likes to make it complicated.
On Friday, Israel launched artillery into Lebanon...yes, it's true. But the artillery was in response to two katyusha rockets fired at Israel. The katyushas were fired at our cities; the artillery was fired at the launching ground of the katyushas. Had there been no rockets launched at Israel; there would have been no artillery being fired. The UN promptly stepped in and, once again, made fools of themselves by asking for a cessation of violence.
Idiots, I want to tell them. Don't you see? Stop the rockets, and there will be no violence, no artillery. Stop the smuggling and attempts to blow up our civilians, and there will be no need to search your trucks.
Sometimes, when right seems wrong, it is because you aren't looking at the whole picture.