A shift of outlook is all it took

by | Jun 2, 2014 | Other News

The moment that shifted my outlook on Israel was when I had the honor to attend a presentation by StandWithUs. Hen and Shay, who toured the United States as part of “Israeli Soldiers Stories,” spoke at my school. Their testimonies touched my heart in a way I never knew was possible. Often, when someone is raised with a shield that only allows seeing certain things, it gives an inaccurate interpretation of the truth.

StandWithUs’ “Israeli Soldiers Stories” features reserve duty students who speak about their backgrounds, interests and life in Israel. They recount their personal experiences of serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), upholding the strict moral code while facing an enemy that hides behind its civilians. These stories are rarely, if ever, heard in the media. The testimonies Shay and Hen shared were the truth.

Hen served in COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), which aids Palestinian civilians. He was an intermediary between the IDF, the Palestinian Authority, the UN and other NGO’s in the West Bank. Shay served as captain, battery command and tells of a warm day drinking coffee in Tel Aviv with friends when suddenly, the siren blared. Panic ensued because it meant rockets were heading towards them and they had seconds before they fell. They could only hide and for the first time, two rockets fell in the heart of Israel.

As each young man spoke, my heart began to weep. It wept not only because of the horrid trials they faced, but I wept for myself. I realized that before the presentation I was ignorant to their truth, and I had no clue that the lives of the soldiers and so many others are at stake everyday. Walking down the street with fear of losing my life is nothing I have personally experienced, so just the thought of it makes me tremble. The more I learned, the more I began to respect them and the courage of these young men. I sat in awe unable to speak, only with the capabilities to think and write. I was compelled to put my thoughts on paper…to give myself a voice.

by Noni Stevens, senior, Green Run High School