MKs worry about their children at the front

In addition to the worries of all parents who have children serving in the battlefields of southern Lebanon, MKs have said they feel personal responsibility for the fate of those sent there. "To send a son to war is never an easy task," said Estherina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu). "But to be one of the political officials who has voted in favor of that war, and has been a part of the decision to go to war... it is a difficult position to be in." Tartman, a major in a reserve Paratroop unit, understands the duties of the IDF better than most. The IDF has become a family affair, from her oldest son, who served in the infantry in Operation Defensive Shield, to her youngest, who has just been accepted into what she calls "one of the army's most elite combat units." "In anything you do as a politician, you ask yourself if you are bringing in your bias, your personal feelings," she said. "But especially when it comes to a son in war, it is not possible to ignore your feelings... As an MK, I have to go home at peace with my decisions. I feel a heavy burden on my shoulders for all the parents of Israel." Tartman is one of at least six MKs who have children currently deployed in southern Lebanon. A majority of the Knesset, however, has at least one child or grandchild in the reserves, making the decision to send a member their own family to the front lines a more difficult one than in other countries, where few of the political elite have family ties to the military. For many of those MKs, being able to separate their personal and political lives is difficult, but essential to their ability to function. "I am proud of my son, and through the Knesset I will do all I can for the war, as my son fights in the north," said Effi Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party), whose son is deployed in southern Lebanon in a combat unit. Yisrael Hasson (Israel Beiteinu) has one son in the IDF, and two others in a bomb shelter in their home in Kiryat Tivon. "I am worried for my son in the army, but I am more worried for my children, and all the other children spending their days in the shelters," he said. "I need to separate from this when I operate as an MK. I need to separate between my decisions in the Knesset versus my personal life." For a moment on Monday, Orit Noked (Labor) experienced the worse nightmare of any soldier's parent - the IDF told her that her son had been wounded. Although it emerged that he would not experience long-term effects from the "light to moderate" shrapnel wounds to his legs, Noked was flooded by well-wishing phone calls from MKs. "We all knew how she felt," said Tartman. "I am scared for all soldiers of Israel, not just my children. My sisters, my friends all have children in the army. That is the nature of our country."