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David Matlow is co-chairing UJA’s Annual Campaign 2015 with Andrea Cohen. He traveled to Israel this past weekend. Here are his observations.

David Matlow: Op-Ed: A Firsthand Perspective from Israel

By David Matlow, July 28th, 2014


I arrived in Israel on Sunday. With about an hour to go in the Air Canada flight to Tel Aviv, the stewardess announced over the public address system that we would be entering Israeli air space in 30 minutes and in accordance with regulations, nobody is permitted to leave their seat until we land.


The stewardess added that “in light of the situation, I am sure you understand”.


In the cab ride from the airport, I asked the driver what was going on. He said it is a “balagan” (chaos). I noticed that the music on the radio was somber. As we continued our drive, Green Day’s “Wake me up when September ends” came on the air. And, while I have heard the song many times, including in the Broadway musical American Idiot, the lyrics held a special meaning on this day.


“Here comes the rain again, falling from the stars”.



Everyone is thinking about the missiles falling from the sky, and Israel’s ground offensive to rid itself from the combined terror threats of the missile launchers and the attack tunnels.


As we approached Jerusalem, it was noon and time for the hourly news. Sadly, the first story was the time and place of the seven funerals of the soldiers who were killed in action over the last few days, some who are about the age of my youngest daughter who just graduated from TanenbaumCHAT.


The entire country is impacted.


The first thing I do when I come to Israel is get a haircut, and this time was no different. I asked Shmulik, the barber, about the matzav (situation). Does he think it will be over soon? He said it will never be over; that we will always need to fight to defend ourselves. This is how it is. We will be OK, but we must remain strong.



On Israeli TV, there is a ticker that runs across the screen offering help to those in need. For instance, if you need trauma counselling or help out of the danger zone, there is a specific number to call. If you are a resident of the south who would like to spend some time up north, there is a different number to call. There are children on the street selling lemonade, the proceeds of which will help the soldiers in the south. The police cars have blue and white ribbons while Israeli flags fly proudly outside stores and businesses. There is a wave of patriotism mixed in with the concern.


I went to Aroma Cafe. As the news from Gaza plays on the TV in the background, everyone is carrying on their normal business, all too aware of the “news” without having to watch. There is a quiet confidence about the matzav; people are out doing their thing.


The peace my family is experiencing in Jerusalem, combined with the security we feel in Toronto because we have Israel, and the dismantling of the Hamas terror infrastructure, come at a very high cost. Today’s seven funerals are that cost. We pray that there is no more cost to be paid, but know this will not be the case.


Reprinted with Permission from Shalom Life

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