"It's an important lesson for them, that their principal was sent to go to war"—and the first woman to operate a D-9

As Israeli politics heats up and slowly reverts to its divisiveness, an important reminder of the quality of the people we've discovered when we sent them to do the impossible.

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We saw earlier in the week a portion of Ari Shavit’s column over the weekend, when he described the disappointment some people in Gaza are finding on the home front when they get out.

As Shavit put it:

… in this fifth month of the war on Israel, the Israeli spirit is challenged. When “lions” and “lionesses” [DG - men and women soldiers fighting the war] are released from reserve duty, they are appalled to discover on the home front winds of hopelessness, buds of defeatism and a return to factionalism. When the soldiers doing regular army service finally get home to recover a bit, they cannot help but wonder why the ultra-orthodox are still not drafted, how tragedy of the abductees has morphed into a source of political controversy.

As the political fronts in Israel begin to heat up, it seemed worthwhile to remind us of the quality of people who are still out at war, and how a profound change will be required internally for us to be worthy of the sacrifice they have made over the border.

The clip above is but a portion of a report by YNet about one of the last units of reservists still serving in Gaza, who were among the first to be sent in. We hear an elementary school principal speak about how serving, even at the expense of being away from his school, is a lesson to his students. We hear a middle-aged guy speaking not about how he is stuck in Gaza, but how it is a privilege to serve.

Here is a fuller version of the brief clip above:

Make sure you watch closely at the difference between the Bani Suheila Square in Gaza where captives were paraded around, and what it looks like now. It gives us a sense of the utter destruction—that’s not a commentary, it’s just a fact.

Israelis are facing an unfolding crisis, but also an important opportunity to rebuild. If you would like to share our conversation about what they are feeling and what is happening that the English press can’t cover, please subscribe today.

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WEDNESDAY (2/21):   We will run the second half of our interview with Ari Harow, author of the new book, My Brother’s Keeper, and once a close political advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu. Harow has great respect for Bibi as a leader and statesman, but some very surprising things to day about what he thinks Bibi SHOULD do now on the political front versus what he thinks Bibi WILL do. We’ll have an excerpt for everyone, and the full conversation with a transcript for paid subscribers.

THURSDAY (2/22): In this past weekend’s papers, one story was front and center—the drafting of the ultra-Orthodox into the army. Even among the religious non-Haredi population, patience has run out. We’re going to present two articles, some politics ads, a comedy routine and memes making their way across Israeli social media showing how attitudes have shifted and are continuing to move … even among the religious right.

FRIDAY (2/23):  Finally, we’ll close out the week with a podcast, available to everyone, with Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Israel’s Special Envoy for Combatting Anti-Semitism. It’s an enormous and daunting task, so Cotler-Wunsh outlines her strategy.

And, once on the subject of the front and the sorts of people this country has produced, this brief clip about the first woman to operate a D-9, the gigantic bulldozer produced by the US in a non-military form, which the IDF then converts for military operations.

At the beginning of the war, much was (rightly) made of the women tank crews who saw combat for the first time. Now, as the video says, “a woman’s place isn’t just in a tank anymore.” You may recall the posting in which a commander remarked that after the performance of women on October 9, the question of women in combat roles was now a non-issue.

Here, their roles expand.

Tomorrow, we return to politics, and the second half of our conversation with Ari Harow on the future of Benjamin Netanyahu’s political odyssey.

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Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
Israel from the Inside is for people who want to understand Israel with nuance, who believe that Israel is neither hopelessly flawed and illegitimate, nor beyond critique. If thoughtful analysis of Israel and its people interests you, welcome!