First Person Israel
8/15/12 at 12:37 AM 7 Comments

Something Sick is Happening in Jerusalem

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Israelis pick up their gas masks in one of Jerusalem's malls. The big ones are for the Iranian weapons, the mid sized ones for the Syrian weapons, and the small ones are for the Hezbollah and Hamas weapons.

Something sick is happening in Jerusalem. It’s so sick that it makes my heart race in fear, and my blood boil in anger. Making matters worse, it’s not just happening in Jerusalem, but throughout Israel.

Since the 1990s, when Iraq threatened Israel with chemical weapons, Israel has undertaken, at no little expense, to distribute gas masks to all its citizens. Over the years, old gas masks have been replaced by new ones and, as more modern threats have arisen, and new efforts made to be sure that all Israelis are protected.

The latest threat involves Syria. It’s a well known fact that Syria possesses numerous long range rockets that can strike most parts of Israel, placing 4/5 or more of Israel’s population in range. It’s also known that Syria possesses chemical and/or biological weapons that can be loaded onto these rockets and inflict immediate death of many, and mass casualties of countless others, some who would die eventually of exposure to these weapons of mass destruction. Anyone not living in a cave the past year knows that Syria is unraveling at the seams and engaged in a bloody internal war that could risk these weapons getting into the hands of someone who wouldn’t hesitate to use them.

Living under the threat of such a disaster is indeed sick. Not because we live here, but because we face the daily threat of any of our neighbors unleashing a rocket attack, suicide bomb, border infiltration, or any other way to kill and maim as many Israelis as possible.

Culturally and religiously, because Israelis embrace and celebrate life, despite the risks and precautions which we need to undertake to live here, life goes on. So the event in which my family participated recently that got my heart rate up and my blood to boil was the public distribution of gas masks where a jewelry store used to be inside one of Jerusalem’s malls. All you have to do is walk in, show your ID, get a quick instruction as to how to use them, and you’re good to go.

Of course nothing is as simple as it may seem. There is the requisite security check at every entrance to the mall just to make sure a terrorist doesn’t slip in and blow himself up by accident. As strange as this may sound to others, in Israel is a necessity, a daily fact of life.

To make things convenient, the choice of a major mall as a distribution point allows you to get your gas mask and meet up with a friend for coffee. Or take your kids shopping for the new school year, and walk out with an “Angry Birds” backpack in one hand, and a handful of gas masks of different sizes in another.

This month, my family celebrated our eighth anniversary living in Israel. To mark that occasion, we got our first gas masks for the whole family. Nothing says family outing like going to the mall to get your state supplied gas mask.

There are very few people I know who don’t feel something bad is looming. The truth is we don’t have a peaceful border and anything could trigger, well, anything. To that end, we have to be prepared. We rely on the army for gathering intelligence and protecting us as needed. We also know God is faithful and rely on Him to protect Israel as He has promised.
Witnessing this event, my mind turned to scriptural verses from Psalms and Proverbs that Jews recite daily – God has nullified the conspiracy of the nations, He has thwarted the plans of various peoples. Many are the thoughts in the heart of man, but it is the plan of God that endures. This gives us the strength to face external threats, no matter the odds.
We also rely on humor, even in the most morbid and fearful things. While waiting for our gas masks, my wife overheard a conversation that went like this:
What are the different size boxes for?” one man asked of the woman distributing the gas masks.
Someone standing next to him, waiting his turn, offered “The big boxes are for Iranian weapons. The middle sized boxes are for Syrian weapons. And the little boxes are for Hezbollah and Hamas weapons.”
If the little boxes were not for our smallest children, this might actually be funny.
One way more and more Christians have chosen to stand by Israel is by joining Heart to Heart, (www.afmda.org.heart-to-heart) a unique program to bless Israel and save lives in Israel by helping to protect and increase Israel’s blood supply. In the event of a Syrian attack, or any other threat, Israel needs to have enough blood to treat and save any victims.
While I live in Israel and my primary job is to protect my family, my role in giving Christians the opportunity to stand with us and help us be ready, no matter what may come, is satisfying and rewarding. The response is gratifying.
Let us pray that there is never a need to open our gas masks, and that the blood we collect is only used for common surgeries. But, just like being ready with a gas mask in one hand and a backpack or coffee in the other, Israel’s blood supply must be ready. We are grateful for the love and support of the millions who stand by us to this end.


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