23,320

Next week we will commemorate our fallen soldiers and civilians who were killed in wars and acts of terrorism since the inception or the conception of the state of Israel. We do this immediately following the commemoration of the six million Jews who were killed in Europe. We prepare ourselves all week long by listening to stories on the radio and watching video clips of handsome young soldiers and beautiful young girlfriends, poems and letters, twisted metal and smoke plumes, blood, oil, and tears. Then we seem to shrug our shoulders of those unbearable weights and celebrate our Independence Day the very next day with such abandon and insane frivolity as though we received our country on a silver platter for free.

Obviously there is a linkage between those events, the holocaust, the wars and the terror, and the establishment of Israel. Israelis don’t like to dwell on that linkage. Jews went all too gently into the night of the holocaust. Israeli will not go so gently into that night.

23,320 is the number of our soldiers and civilians who have been killed in the current Promised Land. Last year at this time, I wrote another blog post entitled 23,169. This year we had Protective Edge in Gaza. 67 of our soldiers were killed. The rest were killed in incidents that have no names. The incidents seem endless. Sometimes they morph into wars and sometimes wars peter out into incidents. We come to expect these wars and incidents. They make us bitter, but there is no limit to our capacity for bitterness. We really don’t expect our sworn enemies to love us or to recognize us. We don’t expect anyone to beat their swords into plowshares. Neither do we expect to be able to do so ourselves.

We don’t expect to have any friends either. Even if our friends recognize us, they won’t love us. And if we do have a friend who likes us, we are surprised and we wonder whether they really know what we are and how long the friendship will last.

In the end, we depend only on our soldiers, our children. There is no number that can express their loss, only names.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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2 Comments

Filed under Essays

2 responses to “23,320

  1. Victoria Stone

    Beautifully and powerfully written Mike. Thank God there are people like you that have the guts and the ability to force us to open our eyes and look at realities that we would prefer not to see…

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