Sunday, April 30, 2017


23,544.

Last year the number was 23,447. 

Tonight Memorial Day for IDF soldiers and victims of terrorism begins.

23,544. What is a number? Can it even be understood?

It is only when you see the faces behind the numbers that you begin to comprehend the enormity of the loss… Benayah Sarel, Hadar Goldin, Oron Shaul, Chagai Lev, Shiri Negari, Kobi Mandell & Yosef Ishran, Noam Apter, Revital Casus-Ohayon, Matan Casus-Ohayon, Noam Casus-Ohayon, Roi Klien, Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali… 23,544 people, families and friends left behind.
I wrote about this more than a decade ago. The words I wrote then are even more relevant today.



August 15, 2006
I feel so, so sad today. For the past few days I’ve felt like I can’t breathe. I can’t rest. My throat is choked with unshed tears.

All I can think about is numbers.

Israelis often seem obsessed by numbers. The over 6 million murdered by Nazis. The over 6 million that currently populate the state of Israel. The number of Arabs living amongst us. The years there were wars. The date a husband, brother, child or friend was killed. The number of people who died alongside them. The identifying numbers of the resolutions passed by the UN. The amount of explosives in a bomb detonated by a suicide bomber… Israelis have good reason to be obsessed with numbers.

During this war with Hezbollah the TV stations showed us a different number each day, letting us know how many days we fought for our lives. A good thing too – I tried to keep track of the days but everything ran together. Night and day turned upside down. I had a hard time remembering what day of the week it was, much less how many days had gone by. Each day I tried to count the sirens and the explosions and each day I lost count. There were so many explosions I lost the ability to tell the difference between the sound of a katusha slamming into Karmiel and the sound of artillery fire being shot from the near-by hills, over the border into Lebanon.

I’m not sure exactly why numbers are so important. I suppose being able to count, to differentiate and isolate separate events helps create order. It carves sanity out of insanity. I tried to count, to keep track. Each day I failed. Each new day I tried again. The numbers on the TV screen helped, a little.
An American friend told me that the people around her have a hard time understanding why Israelis get so upset over what American’s consider a “minimal loss of life”. In response, she contrasted the populations of both countries:  The day after Hezbollah attacked Israel (this time) she wrote:

The last census taken in the US gave us a population of 299, 206, 827 people.  The last census taken in Israel gave them a population of 6,352,177. Yesterday 8 IDF soldiers were killed.  In comparison with the population, this would have resulted in the loss of 377 US soldiers in one day. There are 3 IDF soldiers being held captive at the present time.  This would equal to 141 US soldiers being kidnapped and held hostage.

During this past month 157 Israelis were killed. That would be 7,395 Americans. As if 9/11 happened twice in one month.

Even so, it’s not the numbers that matter. It is what they represent that counts.

In Israel, the news comes on at proscribed times. The worse the situation the more news updates are added to the regular schedule. During this past month, there often was no break in the news. On better days, it came just on the hour. If we were lucky a few hours went by between updates. The special 11pm news that I was watching a few days ago went straight on into the normal midnight news.

The news crew, desperate to show something pleasant decided the reporter should interview a group of soldiers resting between combat missions to show how our boys were doing. Sprawled outside, leaning on whatever was convenient, the camera revealed a group of handsome guys. Built like men, with the gleam of youth in their eyes, they were chatting companionably between themselves. They included the reporter they had so often seen on their TV screens at home as one of their own. With typical Israeli abruptness, one of the soldiers interrupted the reporter, calling out: “Moshe! You forgot to ask the most important question!” “What’s that?” Moshe asked. The soldier, Sagi Eko, from Karmiel, said with a grin: “You forgot to ask what we miss the most!”  

Sagi explained, “Right now, the girlfriend doesn’t matter, I don’t care about food or even a shower. All I want is my mom!” Sagi’s friends laughed and chimed in with their assent. “Bring me my mom so I can hug her for about ten minutes,” said Sagi “and I will be set to fight for another month or so!” 
I’m sure Moshe would have been happy to produce Sagi’s mother for him. What a small request to ask in return for risking his life to protect his people and his country. The best the news crew could do was to try to get in touch with Sagi’s mom. They posted the studio phone number along with the message: “If you are Sagi’s mother or a member of his family, please call us”. Sagi’s mother DID call. She couldn’t talk to her son; most likely by the time she called he was already back in the midst of yet another hand-to-hand, life and death battle. The man reading the news spoke to Sagi’s mom on air, asked her if she had seen the piece with her son and made sure to tell her how much her boy loves her.

You might think such an event would be rare but here in Israel it’s not. The next day I saw footage a different group of soldiers had filmed, documenting themselves (via their cell-phone video cameras) inside Lebanon. They were resting between battles. Some of the soldiers were sleeping. One was praying. Another was singing a song that basically consisted of the chorus: “Mother, mother, oh how I love my mother”.

People overseas don’t understand why we love our soldiers so much. They don’t understand why we are devastated when one is hurt or killed. Some, like my friend, try to use numbers to explain. Israelis (especially those employed by the State Department) often attempt to use numbers, statistics and ratios to explain, without realizing that it is that very insistence on using numbers that enables people to ignore what stands behind the numbers.

The Nazis thoroughly understood that mechanism – that is why they carved numbers into the arms of Jews. They turned people into numbers, which can be erased without any qualms.

For this very reason those who combat this horror memorialize the murdered by plucking names out of the numbers. On the Memorial Day for the Holocaust people read the names of each person known to have been murdered. They are not a faceless 6 million. They are people with names and with stories. They had shoes and glasses and suitcases too… It’s not the numbers that make the difference; it’s the people the numbers stand for that matter. On the Memorial Day for our soldiers a TV channel is dedicated to one single thing – displaying the name of each soldier killed protecting Israel. It takes 24 hours to go through the list of all those killed in the different wars. The people of other nations sometimes understand this as well. That is why there are names on the Vietnam memorial wall. That is why the names of those murdered on 9/11 were read during the memorial ceremony.

Numbers are important but the most important thing is to remember what the numbers represent. It’s not, “How many?” It’s,“Who?”

People might say: What is one person? To them I say –

One person is Sagi. Or his mother. Or me. Or YOU.

One person is everything.

And until people learn see the faces behind the numbers, nothing will ever change. 





We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz

comments

Speaking

follow me

Follow by Email

translate

Share on Whatsapp


E-Book

For $18 donation








Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts Ever

Hasbys!

Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

Donate!

Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options


One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Tweets

Compliments

The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

Interesting Blogs

Categories

Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria American Jews Amnesty analysis anti-semitism apartheid arab refugees Arafat archaeology art ASHREI B'tselem bahrain Balfour bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz book review Brant Rosen breaking the silence Campus antisemitism Cardozo Chakindas Chanukah Christians Clark Kent conspiracy theories Cyprus Daled Amos Daphne Anson Davis report DCI-P Divest This double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada eoz-symposium EoZNews eoztv Erekat Erekat lung transplant EU Euro-Mid Observer Fake Civilians 2014 Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain Forward free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian gunness Haaretz Hadassah hamas Hamas war crimes hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor Hypocrisy ICRC IDF Ilan Pappe impossible peace incitement Indonesia international law intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Joseph Massad Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Judean Rose Kairos Karl Vick ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Lebanon leftists Linda Sarsour Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Malaysia max blumenthal Mazen Adi McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Michael Ross Miftah Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco Mudar Zahran music Muslim Brotherhood Nakba Natural gas Nazi News nftp NGO NIF norpac NYT Occupation offbeat Omar Barghouti Only in Israel Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peace Now Peter Beinart Petra MB poetry poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist Puar purimshpiel Qaradawi Qassam calendar Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals reference Richard Falk Richard Silverstein rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Rutgers Saeb Erekat Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shujaiyeh Simchat Torah Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Speech stamps Superman Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman Tunisia Turkey UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc UNICEF United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks work accident X-washing Y. Ben-David Yemen YMikarov zahran Ziesel zionist attack zoo Zvi

Blog Archive