Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Flight and the Flag

This date is a special one. It holds so much promise, and so much heartbreak.

Twenty years ago today, Jordan’s King Hussein flew over Israel for the first time. He flew over Jerusalem and spoke to Prime Minister Rabin, saying how beautiful the city looked. At the same time, Israeli and Jordanian teams were cutting a hole in the Arava border fence to create a proper crossing. I was a student in Hebrew University. To make ends meet, I was a counselor for American students in the one-year program while preparing for the Foreign Ministry cadet course to be a diplomat. We were sitting in a dorm room - Americans, Israeli Jews and Palestinians - watching the live news coverage, excited, proud, inspired. 

This is what peace should be like. It happened today.

Forty five years ago today, Yigal Shochat and Moshe Goldwasser were taken prisoner by the Egyptian army when their F-4 Phantom was shot down in the War of Attrition. Goldwasser died in captivity, Shochat lost a leg and was later released. Their capture also happened today.

Since retirement, Shochat dedicated himself to peace, working as a doctor in Palestinian territories. He also led a public debate on the “black flag” concept of conscientious objectors, air force rules of conduct and the refusal to serve in the territories. I disagreed with much of his philosophy, but I was proud that a vibrant democracy can have a tough dispute about the rules of war. I was proud that our political system could encompass dissent and debate. And I was proud that Israel’s soldiers were at the frontline, defending our freedom and country.

May the memory of Lt. Hadar Goldin, and all those IDF soldiers, and all civilians killed in this tragic war, be for a blessing. May we see peace soon. And may our soldiers come home soon safe and sound.

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