YOSIEL CHALON mourns for his father, Chief Warrant Officer Rami Chalon, during his funeral in Hadera .
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
We are living through a difficult time; a time filled with worry and anxiety. A time of war.
For the past decade we have lived from one military operation in Gaza to the next, from battle to battle, and there is still no end in sight. We have lost more than 23,000 soldiers in Israel’s wars, and we now find ourselves in the midst of yet another battle. For 66 years Israel has been fighting for its existence; our War of Independence, it seems, is not yet over.
Of course, we all enjoy quiet times when we pursue a busy public agenda in the spheres of education, industry, commerce, economics, science, culture and art – largely thanks to our dear ones who never came home, and thanks to the ongoing hard work of the IDF and the other security forces. However, at the end of every quiet interlude there comes a new war. Operation Protective Edge, like its predecessors, confronts bereaved families once again with the feeling and experience of loss; that unbearably painful loss that accompanies us every minute of every day.
We, the IDF widows and orphans, carry the trauma of bereavement and sadness with us every step of our lives. And from within our world that has been destroyed around us, we find the strength to tell our husbands and fathers that they did not die in vain; that we continue on the road together, their memory always with us. It is specifically for this reason that we support the IDF and the defense establishment in the operation that they have embarked upon. We know that in war there are no victors; there are always casualties on our side, too. The endless war for our independence and our day-to-day life exacts a heavy price: soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty; soldiers who went out to the battlefield to protect, with their own lives, the citizens of our country. Among the soldiers who have been enlisted there are sons of IDF widows; these soldiers, orphans themselves, don their uniforms and step out of the safety and protection of home, to take their place on the front lines.
The gravity of the choices facing our leaders – the heads of the defense establishment and the members of the security cabinet – should not be underestimated.
We wish to tell Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that we understand the hesitation that he must have felt prior to deciding on the ground incursion – specifically as a bereaved brother, a combat veteran and a prime minister with experience of military operations who, on many occasions, has had to offer condolences to mourners. Like us, he understands the price that is paid by the country’s citizens. Israel finds itself in a difficult political and military situation. On one hand, there is international pressure to reach a cease-fire; on the other hand, there is a desire to adopt further military measures so as to ensure quiet for the years to come.
We must behave with responsibility, caution and restraint, and stand behind our leadership, which sees the bigger picture, understands the ramifications, and is aware of the dangers entailed in each possible scenario.
Speaking for myself, as a woman who lost her husband in battle and is aware of the heavy price in blood that is paid in war, I am certain that the political and military leadership take all this into consideration.
In recent days we have buried some of our finest sons, and the circle of bereavement keeps growing. With great pain, we are joined each year by more widows and orphans, more bereaved parents, and more friends and loved ones.
Dear friends from around the world, your support is so much appreciated, every day and especially now. We call on you to keep us in your thoughts and prayers, to spread the word in your communities of the work we do in Israel and to embrace the families of our fallen soldiers. We are here for our widows and our orphans, 24/7, but it is with your assistance that we are able to provide them with crucial activities and the support network they so much need. Together, we can make their days and nights a bit brighter.
The writer is chairwoman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization.
For more information and to donate, please visit www.idfwo.org