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Tears....

By Paula Stern
7/9/2014, 11:07 AM

I found my first tears this morning - and even I would not have suspected the timing and cause. I didn't cry last night as I watched the news and saw my country being bombarded with missiles. I almost cried when I saw a picture of a father kissing his daughter goodbye and promising he would return to her safe and soon.

I didn't cry, even when I heard Israeli children crying out in fear as the sirens wailed and I certainly didn't cry when I heard that Israel had fired a warning shot and then hit the house of a known terrorist. I didn't even cry when I heard that in the interim period after the warning shot telling people to get out of the way, Palestinians had crowded in to protect the home with their bodies and so were hit by the missile we told them we would shoot.

In the last war, our pilots pulled out, aborted the operation allowing the terrorist to continue to plan attacks against Israelis. I didn't cry when Davidi's phone battery went dead again and I couldn't reach him.

I didn't cry when I got to the train this morning and saw the flashing message that "Due to a disruption on the tramway, the light rail will only go to Givat Ha-Mivtar."

Disruption on the tramway? Is that how you describe violent, rock-throwing, tire-burning riots in which people pull up and burn the light rail tracks, paint, "Death to the Jews" and "Death to Israel" on the burned out shell of several train stations? A disruption?

The train this morning stopped, as it always does, at the Damascus Gate near the Old City of Jerusalem. Last night, Arabs bombed my country - hundreds of rockets, missiles, artillery shells indiscriminately fired, each with the single prayer that it would land in a crowded place and kill Jews. This morning, dozens of Arabs got on the train we built, and went to work and shopping in the center of Jerusalem as if nothing was wrong. That didn't make me cry, that made me angry.

Yes, they have the right, it was the nerve that bothered me more. Your "brothers" bombed even the city in which you live - in some cases, the rockets fell closer to Arab neighborhoods than Jewish ones. But no, that didn't bring me to tears.

As I entered the building, I spoke to the security guard. He came to Israel from Ethiopia; his brother is a paratrooper and has been told to be ready to be called up. And still, I didn't cry.

I walked up the stairs and saw the Arab cleaner. We've complained a lot to the building because Binyan Klal was built in 1970 and the management stinks. Really. They don't take care of the place; it is dirty, hard to find stores because of the lack of signs. It drives me crazy. One Arab cleaner to wash a huge amount of space.

But he knows that it is important to us and that we care, so he cleans next to my office almost daily. And on the days that he doesn't wash, he sprays something that spells nice. He came over when he saw me and asked me how I was doing.

And I didn't have an answer. He's a nice man trying to support his family. I can't be angry at him - he isn't nameless, faceless. He doesn't represent "them". If anything, it is the opposite. He and I complain to each other about how little the building cares about the place; how long it takes them to fix things like the bathroom lock in the women's bathroom that is still, a month later, broken.

How are things? They are bombing the city I love, the country I love. My sons might be called to war at any time. Children are crying; forests set afire. Rockets and missiles from all the way north to all the way east and in the south. How am I?

"It will be okay," he told me and that was when the first tear fell. It will be okay?

He's right, of course - it will be okay. For all the 200+ messages of death and destruction they have sent to us, no one has been seriously injured or killed (thank you, God). We are prepared - we are focused. We all have safe places to go to while our army defends us and unlike the Palestinians, we respect the law of averages and common sense enough to go into our bomb shelters. Even direct hits on homes usually leave those in the bomb shelters safe.

The messages we get from our government are how to protect ourselves while they protect the land. That is as it should be. No one is telling us to hurry to Ahmed's house to protect him and last night 6,000 people were sent home from a canceled concert for fear of a missile catching so many in such close proximity.

And with the announcement of the canceled concert, the news was quick to remind everyone that Neil Young is coming on July 17...8 days from now...and with it, the announcer quickly adds that hopefully this will be over before then.

Unable to form words, I came to my office and sat down. Tears because there is no hope for peace so long as the Arabs don't understand the fundamental principles involved - we have the right to be in this land, it is ours. Violence will not shake us from our determination and all you prove by bombing Jerusalem is that you don't deserve it and you have no rights to it.

As far as I am concerned, whatever small amount of rights the Arabs had to Jerusalem as one of the three centers of their religion is gone. Jerusalem will never be yours; you don't deserve it.

Tears because in another world, we could make peace with men like this Arab worker.

Tears, after all, because my mind is filled with worry over the residents in the south - friends who live there, who report that their houses shake from all the missiles - those that hit nearby and those that fly over their heads aimed closer to my beloved city and home.

Tears because all over Israel, mothers are crying as they learn their sons have been called up, as they watch them rush to pack what they need and go off.

Tears because yesterday I saw one man from our neighborhood in uniform walking up towards the buses to leave.

Tears because my middle son has friends who were called up, as I'm sure my older son does as well.

Tears because on my Facebook, mothers are writing that their sons have gotten the call.

Tears because at any moment, like just now...the rockets are starting again.