Day 29 - Lehava - Jaime Taitz
Lehava commenced the Israel Advocacy program in Kibbutz Tzuba where educator, Neil Lazarus, passed onto us a wealth of knowledge about the history of Israel’s military wars and political battles, shining light on the perseverance of our people. He also informed us on current affairs, such as the kites, tunnels and rockets launched from Gaza which have threatened surrounding kibbutzim in Israel. I feel that Neil’s extremely engaging presentation was highly effective in teaching us all about Israel’s background and situation, fostering a deeper appreciation in our hearts for being in this land.
Next, we heard from Arnold Roth, whose daughter was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2001 near Ben Yehuda Street. We visited this street in our first week in Israel, showing how close these incidents are to us both geographically and mentally. It’s strange that in this seemingly dangerous part of the world I feel safe and secure. Arnold’s story of determination for pursuing justice was very intriguing - he contacted foreign governments to track the engineer behind the murder, who was released from prison in 2011 as part of the exchange to bring Gilad Shalit to safety, and fled to Jordan. Arnold is a courageous man whose perseverance is looked up to.
To comprehend the reality of Israel’s terror threats and the close proximity of the danger, we drove to Sderot, a neighbourhood that has 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter in the event of an attack from Gaza. This reality slapped me in the face when visiting a playground that included a bomb shelter disguised as a caterpillar play area. Young, innocent children are brought up among the chaos of the conflict, which is deeply concerning. I felt extremely grateful to live in Australia, where playgrounds contain only innocent equipment.
Then we went to a Gaza lookout point where we were greeted by an army General who informed us on the Israeli projection to build underground barriers, and he told us about life on the other side of the fence. Next we visited Nahal Oz kibbutz which is 700m away from Gaza. The IDF trucks patrolling the border were visible from the three layered barbed wire gate surrounding the kibbutz. Although Gaza was so close, I still felt distant from the feeling of being threatened and in danger, which is the positive and secure atmosphere that the Jewish community creates. I feel proud to be part of a people whose optimistic and hopeful spirit is only strengthened when faced by challenges.