Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sequel to Memories from the First Gulf War - Broken Homes, Unbroken Spirits

Last night I posted this "trip down memory lane" - to the night 20 years ago this week when the first Gulf War started.

While at the time we were all scared out of our wits, looking back I'm able to laugh at much of what I personally experienced that week.

About a month or so later, I had a very different experience of the same Gulf War which I beleive has contributed greatly to my personal spiritual development.

Scuds were being lobbed at Israel from Iraq almost daily, and while people continued to be diligent about keeping their gas masks handy at all times and going into the closest sealed room on a moment's notice, the country nevertheless managed to find a calm way to get through this very strange time.

Some residents of the Tel Aviv area had "moved south for the winter" - i.e. gone to Eilat and other southern locations to be as far as possible from where most of the Scuds were landing, but even that was a minority. Most people stayed put - continued going to work, sending their kids to school, even going out to restaurants, etc. - all the while with gas masks at their sides ready for a siren to send them to a shelter or sealed room.

Over the course of a few days sometime in mid-late February, several scud missiles hit a residential area in Ramat Gan (right outside of Tel Aviv), and my unit was brought up to the area from our base in order to help people move their remaining belongings into huge containers on the street for safe-keeping until the apartments could be repaired.

I had a couple of very significant realizations that week.

First, nobody was injured in this particular neighborhood. People had been in these buildings – particularly in many of the "sealed rooms" whose walls/ceilings had fallen in during the attack – yet not a single injury. While Israel was going through daily unprovoked missile attacks, this entire block of buildings was ravaged, with people in it, and nobody was physically hurt. I couldn't help but to see that as a sign from above – a "show of solidarity", as it were.

Second, I was amazed that the majority of these same ravaged apartments sported Israeli flags flying from (what was left of) the balconies. The residents of this working class neighborhood were sending a message loud and clear to Saddam – you threw your worst at us, and here we are – alive, healthy, and proud of who we are.

The residents of theses seriously dmaged homes in Ramat Gan accepted that for political reasons, Israel's hands were tied and we were not in a position to retaliate militarily the Iraqi attacks, and yet they were giving Saddam the virtual finger.

To me, this indefinable unbreakable spirit reasserted in a strange way the presence of God – giving us the hope, the strength and the courage to know exactly who we are and enabling us to celebrate in that.

By coincidence, that same week, Israel had her only significant rainfall of that entire winter. I have no idea if this was another "positive sign" from above or a case of Divine Murphy's Law with our unit sleeping in leaky tents at a nearby army base, but given the backdrop of the rest of the week, I know what I'm inclined to think…

No comments:

Post a Comment