Soul Limitation

Dear Soldier/Police Officer, In this letter you will not find ideology. This is a completely personal appeal from me, directly to your heart. My name is Racheli, I was born 25 years ago in Yamit [a Jewish community in Sinai which was surrendered to Egypt as part of the Camp David Accords], and since the evacuation of Yamit I have been living in Gush Katif. I live here with my husband, my two daughters, my parents, my siblings, and my grandmother - four generations who are happy to live together in a place they love so much. I turn to you with a plea that you take time to consider the action that you are being demanded to fulfill.

Close your eyes and imagine the following situation: you knock on the door of the house of the Shalva family in Neve Dekalim, you hand them the evacuation order, and begin to fulfill the mission.

Let us begin with the evacuation of the first generation.

My grandmother, Grandma Penina, 92 years old, a Holocaust survivor, arrived in Israel on an illegal boat but was denied entry and kicked out to Cyprus. Even after she arrived in Israel, she encountered many hardships. This is her house, and she has not had another for these last 17 years.

This evacuation is really not hard. She is a frail woman who does not weigh a lot, and of course, does not resist with force. But why do your eyes fill with tears when Penina’s eyes express that this is not the first time that she has been kicked out of her home? In the past, she was kicked out of her home – to Auschwitz…

Grandma Penina is on the bus. The evacuation of the first generation ended successfully.

Now back to the house, to the second generation. My parents, my father Moshe (son of Grandma Penina), and my mother Esti, do not put up any violent resistance, but their eyes are full of tears, which tell a story. Moshe and Esti were kicked out of their house in Yamit 23 years ago. When the soldiers knocked on the door of their house and put them on buses together with their four children, the eldest being three-and-a-half-years-old and the youngest a few weeks old, they [the soldiers] promised them [the parents] that the bus would take them to Be’er Sheva and there they would be taken care of…

With a backpack, and in it a change of clothing for each child and a few cloth diapers, Mom and Dad looked like refugees in every sense. It was obvious that they could not come to their parents looking like this, for the association with Holocaust survivors would be too heavy a burden.

After four hours of waiting on the sidewalk of the Be’er Sheva Central Bus Station, my father Moshe turned to the police, but there too he found no salvation. After many hours of waiting, a good Jew passed by, and after receiving the negative response to his question of whether they had a place to sleep, he gathered them to his house in Ganei Tal.

In those days, we lived in the foyer of the family’s house, until a temporary apartment was found for us in the community of Katif. Until our house was built in N’vei Dekalim, my parents made every effort to organize their life anew. My father established a business in N’vei Dekalim, and life returned to normal, or so it seemed…

Moshe and Esti are also almost on the bus, when you suddenly remember that you don’t actually have any answer to the deeper question that is hanging in the air between the two of you - ‘Where to now? What is next?’

Now they, too, are on the bus, and the second generation’s evacuation has been completed successfully.

This time, with somewhat heavier steps - you return to continue with the 3rd generation. Eleven out of twelve of my brothers and sisters live in N’vei Dekalim, from Ori, age 26, to Tiferet - the youngest one, who just finished first grade. Now, the mission may be a bit harder. Going back and forth to the bus eleven times in the heavy heat is hard, but it is even harder to withstand the looks of the children, full of fright when they see you - for they had always believed that you are supposed to protect them and give them security. Now you are ripping them out of their home, in which they were born and raised.

The eleven children have been put on the bus, including the bride and two new grooms who have joined the family. The 3rd generation evacuation has ended successfully as well.

Now you return to the house, all the while the cries from the bus reverberating in your ears, your legs barely obeying your commands. Only the 4th generation evacuation remains – and this one’s really child’s play. Two little girls, Moriah – four-and-a-half years old, and Efrat, two-and-a-half years old - my daughters. What could be so hard about taking two little girls?!

You raise the two of them together easily and carry them toward the bus, when suddenly Moriah says in tears, “But I want my house” - and it dawns upon you that when you finish evacuating the 4th generation, you will have erased the normal life of an entire family. When you reflect on my daughters in your hands, you think about the next generation, you think about your children, or the children that will be born to you in the future. You are struck with fear when you think about what you will tell your children when they will ask you how you served the State - will you be able to tell them that you are proud of your service for the State?

Please think!

No, you really don’t have to disobey orders.

If you received an order to lift a truck weighing many tons, you wouldn’t have to disobey orders – simply your strength would not serve you in that task.

The soul, too, has its limitations!

I turn to your soul, to the heart of that soldier or that officer who swore to protect the State of Israel.

Please think…

Letter to Soldiers and Police Officers of the Gaza Evacuation (translated by Yishai & Malkah Fleisher) Tuesday, July 26, 2005 / 19 Tammuz 5765. From www.israelreporter.com