I cannot believe I am actually sitting here and starting an “official” blog entry. Usually, I am the one mocking bloggers because in my opinion, who cares what these people have to say? It seems I have fallen into the trap; as if people actually care what I – Steve Rubin - has to say for himself. So to assuage my anti-blog sentiments, I would prefer to call these written pieces “Editorials of a Non-Accredited Journalist”. With that being said, maybe some of you will enjoy my often non - sequiturial commentary.
No, I am not starting this “editorial” to coincide with the New Year; even though it would be nice to assume that my blogging is a result of the desire to reflect on what this last year has brought and what the following year will entail. It is a result of the dramatic shift which illustrates my life now versus what it was a year ago at this time. Instead of being on an Israeli army outpost on the Lebanese border – an outpost that we refer to as the fortress in the sky – I am sitting here about to enter one of my discussion groups for my Masters degree in Diplomatic Studies and International Relations (those two things are often seen as an oxymoron in Israel). But, as I sit through these classes (studying something that to me is not something one can study), my mind often wanders and I cannot help but think of my “crew” – my boys, my brothers – that have returned for another tour of duty up on the Northern border though they appear to be getting ready to go down south, should there be a massive ground operation into the Gaza Strip. It is definitely a bit sadistic that I want to return to those rainy, unbearably cold nights out on an ambush overlooking the Hezbollah strongholds over South Lebanon. It is as if I actually enjoyed these activities when I was a part of them.
Everyone who has been a lochem (warrior) in the Israeli army loves to tell the active soldiers they will miss their service and those exhausting activities that often seem completely irrelevant to our operations once they have been released; and although this is often the case, nobody imagines that it could possibly be a reality. Are you kidding me, I would say? There is no way I would rather be sitting on some rocky hill with rain-soaked boots and nearly frost-bitten fingers than in the comforts of my own home, only having to worry about whether or not I was going to make it to class on time! But it is true. Just for one more night, I crave to return to that “fortress in the sky”, just to prepare my equipment and go out for one last “camping adventure” (as I curse everything in multiple languages) with Kedem, Libmoff and Bar (three members of the squad).
For now, I do not want to delve into the situation that is happening in Southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. I believe that the situation – whatever the future beholds – must play itself out before I can fully give my commentary on it. All I know is that no matter what happens, it will be a major turning point in the history of the Israeli state. What I do know, is that I am chomping at the bit to get called to reserve duty in this time of crisis. I am not a militant person in any way; nor do I believe in warfare as being the ultimate way to bring about peaceful coexistence. In fact, I was raised with pacifistic values; but knowing that my friends are sitting on the boarder, waiting for the green-light, is eating away at me. What right do I have to sit and enjoy my coffee, staring at beautiful women and complaining about the trivialities of my daily routine while they – the ones with whom I served, struggling together, and at times, suffering together – maybe even against their will may possibly be used as cannon-fodder in defending the “Zionist” dream. And whose dream is it anyways; does it still exist? Is all this loss of life on both sides really worth it for defending “Zionism”? If our soldiers become martyrs in the name of the Jewish state, is that any different than any other Palestinian national who has also become a martyr? Both died in the “name” of their country – for a cause. It does not matter how they died, because in the end, nothing has changed and there is still hate and distrust between the two sides. So really, what was the point of sacrifice in the first place? Nevertheless, I would be willing to be one of those sacrifices if for nothing more than being able to share the increasing thoughts about the scary reality of death – the same reality that is festering inside “my boys” – my brothers.
Coffee simply does not taste as good, and women are just not nearly as beautiful when your friends are not around to share the pleasure with you. So, as I end this…I hope that Krembo, Alexi and Menashe will be home soon, ready to grace the streets of Tel Aviv as we laugh about the inanity of this never-ending conflict.
Steve Rubin was born and raised in Philadelphia and made aliyah in July 2006 when he joined the army as a Lone Soldier. After finishing his service in October 2008, he is now studying for his Master’s in Diplomatic Relations at Tel Aviv University.