Last week, I returned from month-long reserve service session in Judea and Samaria; it was my first stint in the territories since my mandatory IDF
Undoubtedly, things look different when you are a few years older. Different situations become clearer, and new conclusions emerge. Forget about everything you were told: Roadblocks, control, humiliation, apartheid? Not around here. I encountered a different reality, and below are my impressions.
Every person is allowed to be shocked by something else, in line with one's doctrine, morality, values and worldview. Some see a moral crime in a military patrol that holds up a Palestinian for a security check and are deeply shaken by it. I chose to be shocked by other things.
Proud to serve. Yaniv Blumenfeld (Photo: Ofir Avimeir)
I was shocked to realize that some Israelis maintain a daily routine under a constant threat to their lives, and that a Jewish community must be surrounded by a fence so its residents won't be butchered. I suddenly understood how truly shocking it is that I'm lying in ambush in mud near a Jewish community on the eve of a holiday, just to prevent the murder of Jews by the local population; of course, a holiday is a wonderful date for terror groups to hurt the Jews a little more.
I was shocked that Jews are not allowed to hike in the wadi under their community, that they must not enter surrounding villages because they won't come out alive, that their movement is limited, that at certain hours one must not leave the community, and that they face the constant threat of stoning, firing and lynching.
For years we are hearing the lie that our presence there constitutes an obstacle to peace, while we come up with all sorts of odd excuses for murderous terror. They are not telling us about the massacre in Hebron's Jewish community in 1929, some 38 years before Judea and Samaria was conquered. We are not told that between 1949 and 1956, more than 300 Jewish civilians were murdered in "Palestinian" terror attacks.
Nobody tells us that the Palestine Liberation Organization was formed in 1964, three years before Judea and Samaria was conquered under the command of IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin. Any territory handed over to the Palestinians to this day has been used to produce terror infrastructure, and the latest example – the Gush Katif evacuation – demonstrates it in the clearest and more blatant manner.
The Palestinians do not draw their hatred for Israel from the soldier at the checkpoint. That's my own opinion, of course. They take in the hatred from Palestinian Authority and Hamas TV, where Jews are compared to monkeys and pigs worthy of death. They get the hatred from incitement at mosques, schools, and the photos of martyrs adorning every wall and square in Judea and Samaria cities.
They draw the motivation to hate from Palestinian cultural icons, Marwan Barghouti and mass murderer Yasser Arafat. They are inspired by squares and soccer stadiums named after terrorists; years of incitement and dehumanization of Israel are having their effect.
To my regret, I realized that the equation is clear and simple: Without our presence there, we would witness the mass slaughter of Jews at the hands of Arabs, making the 1929 riots seem like child's play.
There is no doubt that IDF soldiers face complex situations while serving in the territories. My comrades and I, who were called up to serve there, did not arrive in order to see blood spilled, heaven forbid, humiliate or trample the honor of Palestinians. The opposite is true.
We were all educated in line with Zionist values, tolerance and the desire for peace, regardless of leftist or rightist views. I know that the real Left is not about radical activists or the violent anarchists who hurl stones at IDF troops on Fridays. For me, the real Left is about Rabin, may he rest in peace, Zionism, building, and friendship. Even if we don't always agree, we still keep fighting shoulder to shoulder.
Even if we cast the political debate aside for a moment, I feel proud to serve in Judea and Samaria. I'm proud that thanks to me and my fellow reservists, residents celebrated Passover safely without being murdered. I'm proud that the roadblock I served at prevented a knifeman or an explosive device from entering the Green Line. I'm also proud that my presence averted the hurling of rocks at Jewish cars. I'm proud of performing all these missions and preventing murder and harm to human life.
Yaniv Blumenfeld, 25, lives in central Israel and served in the paratroopers