Who are my heroes? Well, I can tell you easily who they are not. The politicians who worry about votes are not heroes to me. A Chief of Staff who abandons a soldier in trouble is not a hero to me. Journalists who use the power of words and popularity to hurt a boy, a family, a section of the population, are not a hero to me. A “major” website that focuses on hits and traffic at the expense of Israel is not a hero to me. Who are the heroes?
Look outside your window — they’re all right there. The bus driver is a hero…quietly day after day, he fights traffic and delays to get thousands of people to work, hopefully with a “good morning,” a “have a good day,” or even a “see you later” as you walk off the bus. And when a woman collapses on his bus and a child screams in fright, the bus driver turns the bus, passengers abroad, and rushes the mother to a nearby hospital.
The policemen…and women…who represent safe haven. Who answer questions and stand on corners with eyes ever-shifting, watching, alert. They jump into danger as quickly as they rush to help an elderly woman climb the steps. They are the heroes of Israel.
The guards at every entrance, at every mall, on the trains, near the buses. Without hesitation, time and time again, they have rushed into danger to save lives. We’ve been fighting for years against this latest intifada; we’ve been fighting for generations. How many times have we killed needlessly? Really, considering how many enemies we have, the answer is very few. We don’t aim to hurt innocents, but when 11-year-old boys are sent with knives to stab people, when women in their 50s suddenly attempt to stab a guard, the lines get blurred. Despite these blurred lines, at risk to their own lives, the guards do all they can to make sure their judgment is sound; their action necessary.
The storekeeper who smiles when you walk in and tells you the bread is from yesterday, he hasn’t had a chance to unload yet, and even offers to call you when he’s ready. He is a hero doing everyday things to make life nicer.
And the child who gets up and offers you a seat on the train and when you say you’re fine, refuses to sit down again and so you both stand until the next stop.
The bank teller who says she saw my son and didn’t he look good in his uniform. Strong. Tell him we’re proud of him, she says before she takes my deposit. I did tell him, but still, you are my hero because life isn’t about business.
And the teachers…oh, the teachers…who have more patience than I am left with after years and years of mothering and now grandmothering. She saw that my youngest daughter, beauty and grace at 16, didn’t have a costume. During a winter in which I’d been sick…months and months of viruses and pneumonia and coughs and fevers…Purim came to Israel. My daughter, also my hero, didn’t think about a costume for school. Nor did I. But teacher asked if she could bring a crown for my princess…teachers, they are my heroes.
So the best we can do is struggle to maintain, to live life normally and so the guards are heroes, but so are the people who get up each day and get on a bus, even though the same bus line was stoned last night; and the people who drive the highway where last night they were throwing firebombs. Also, my heroes are the people of Alon Shvut who took to the running path a week after a jogger was attacked…and the runner himself joined them.
My heroes are the ones who rush in to comfort families devastated by terror. They fill the shelves with food and sit holding a hand. Silent, they are, because sometimes there are no words. They listen to a widow describe a life suddenly stolen from her; they hug children who suddenly find themselves fatherless.
Think of the people, who hear that a bride has lost her father just days before her wedding to a violent terror attack and so, by the thousands, they show up at her wedding to sing and dance.
Finally, in the darkness of night, my heroes fly planes to bring back the final remnants of the ancient Jewish community of Yemen and under cover of night, they fly hundreds of kilometers to destroy a building that would, in the future, threaten our lives.
These are heroes of Israel