An open letter to Annie Lennox

For your information, this country is full of civilians, too.

Annie lennox 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Annie lennox 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Dear Annie Lennox, I cannot claim that I am familiar with music in general, and with British music in particular. Therefore, regretfully I must note at the outset of my letter that until two days ago, I did not exactly know who you are. When I saw the fervor with which you demonstrated at the anti-Israeli demonstration in London and your interviews in which you slandered my people and my country in their efforts to defend the lives of our citizens in the southern part of our nation, I decided to write to tell a short story about what is happening in our country. No, I do not intend to recall the efforts of your government during World War II to prevent Jews - the brands snatched from the fire - to reach their homeland, Israel. I have not come to settle the account of my father who, fleeing from Austria when the Nazis entered that country, was caught at sea by a British destroyer and who, with great initiative, threw all his documents into the sea and thereby foiled their intention to send him back to the killing fields. To be fair, I'll not salute your people for the Balfour Declaration, although you deserve it. I ONLY want to introduce to you to a sweet Israeli child, joyful and full of life, whom I got to know when I accompanied President Shimon Peres on a visit several days after his having been injured. Let me introduce you to Osher Tewito - an eight-year-old child, like any other child, British, French or Palestinian. He lives in Sderot, a small town in the south of the country. Osher, like most children his age, is a fervent soccer fan. Although I did not visit his home, I assume that photographs of David Beckham, John Terry or Wayne Rooney hang on the wall of his room, and his life's dream, surely, is to meet one of these stars in person. I learned that Osher was good at playing soccer (sometimes - as children go - he preferred it to lessons) and that he had an even greater dream in his heart: to become at least like Yossi Benayoun from Dimona, who stars for Liverpool. The life of Osher Tewito changed in a day. It was the 45th birthday of his father Rafi. Like every good child, Osher went with his older brother, Rami, to buy a gift for their dad. Rami and Osher, who discovered on their way to withdraw money from the bank that they had forgotten their credit card at home, returned to get it, and on their way back their world was shattered. Suddenly from nowhere and for no reason, a Kassam rocket exploded near them. Osher was severely wounded and Rami was also wounded, but less severely. Osher, the soccer player and fan, lost his left leg and his right one was severely injured. You can understand the significance of losing a leg, in general, and for a boy who plays soccer in particular. By the way, the psychological harm is no less than the physical, which is in itself difficult - we Israelis are no different than anyone else in that regard, though you might have thought otherwise. OSHER IS undergoing a long and painful rehabilitation. We are all hoping that we will see him run and scamper again in youthful exuberance. The surgeon who operated on him is optimistic and, immediately after the operation, said to Osher: "The day is not far off when we will see you again on the green soccer field." In the meantime, Osher has moved with his family from Sderot to another town 40 kilometers away from the border. (We are, after all, a small country and 40 km. is almost the center of the country.) There, he is undergoing the rehabilitation process, distanced - so he thought - from the shelling, and far from Hamas. But that turned out not to be the case. During the past two weeks Hamas decided that it was not interested in continuing the quiet along the border and opened fire with Grad missiles on a million Israeli citizens. For your information, there are civilians also in Israel. There are women and there are children. Not all are soldiers. Osher's new town has also absorbed indiscriminate firing. A Katyusha rocket hit a kindergarten. Fortunately we had evacuated the children in time. Another hit a school. Osher, with an amputated leg, now has 15 seconds to reach a shelter. A little complicated, don't you think, Annie? And the child asks, as one of your songs is titled: "Why?" By the way, although I do not wish to go into politics but only to deal with the human angle, it would nevertheless be worthwhile to remind you that Israel left Gaza, withdrew all its soldiers from there, dismantled its settlements, and left the vegetable and fruit hothouses from which they made their livelihood. At the same time, we provided and continue to provide electricity and water to the residents of Gaza. What have we received in return? A rocket on Osher Twito. The writer is a senior adviser to President Shimon Peres.