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Letter from Israel

Larry Rich

Israel’s Emek Medical Center (EMC)Affiliated with the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Haifa, IsraelAugust 10, 2006It’s not easy to be an Israeli these days … or any day for that matter. The news reports of our brothers, fathers, children, friends, relatives and associates who are fighting and falling in Lebanon have enveloped our lives in a choking black cloud of negativity. I cannot find a face that does not radiate the pain and foreboding that we all are experiencing. What more can I do other than share with you some of the conversations I’ve had this day …With Sinora, a wonderful woman who occupies the office directly across the hall, opposite my own and whose son is now commanding a paratroop unit deep inside Lebanon:”Any word from your son?”A grimace and pained body language before she answered, “No contact … nothing. It hurts me to say this, but I wish he would break his leg or in some other way be lightly injured … so he could be brought home … to be near me.” The pain and fear radiating from her was unbearable. What could I say to her? That things will be all right? Not to worry? With Dr. Blondheim, our CEO, whose youngest son is currently serving in the IDF and daughter & other son have received Tzav 8 (emergency call up orders). I walked into her office and asked about her children:For a couple of frozen seconds we looked at each other in silence before she answered, “I hope they’re ok.” A shrug of her shoulders and momentary raising of the eyebrows … gestures expressing the fact that their fate is in hands other than their own.A phone call to Nava, who works in the local Jewish Agency office and who has brought many important visitors to our hospital. She has an eight month old baby and her husband was called up via Tzav 8 yesterday. He’s a medic serving with a tank unit. Armored units are being hit hard with advanced Iranian weaponry and suffering many casualties. She couldn’t even complete one sentence without breaking down. Again … what could I say?A phone conversation with Eshel Fram, the regional manager of our local Jewish Agency office – and Nava’s superior. Eshel lives on Mt. Carmel in Haifa in a multistory block of flats:”How are you and your family doing these days in Haifa?””Not very good. Sixty missiles have hit the city and many have fallen so near our home.””Do you have a security room in your flat?””No, only a communal bomb shelter for the building. We actually have to walk up 15 stairs to get to it as our building is on a hillside.””Do you have time to get there?” Rockets travel quickly from Lebanon to Haifa.”Not really. If we’re dressed and ready to go, we can make it in about 20-25 seconds. For many alerts my son, wife and I just crowd into our 3 foot wide clothes closet and wait it out. It’s the only place in our home not exposed to any windows.” Benay, who volunteers her services in our ER walked into my office. She looked dazed and devastated. She stared blankly ahead and said, “Our next door neighbor’s 26 year-old son was killed in Lebanon yesterday. My daughter was just beginning to deliver invitations to her upcoming wedding … and now all she can do is cry.” The window in my office faces the foot ramp that leads people from the parking lot to our hospital entrance. I was watching a family of four a short while ago when they suddenly froze and then began running towards the entrance. Air raid sirens! All of us quickly exited our rooms and stood in the long narrow hallway that has eight offices on either side facing one another. The aimless chatter began. Blood drained from faces as people nervously shuffled their feet while trying to look comfortable. We waited. Would it be a muffled boom meaning a hit several miles away … or a deafening thunderclap that would shake the foundations on which we stood and disrupt the very air we breathe? We waited.Please allow me to set the records straight with regards to one central issue of this war. Hizbullah – schmizbullah! Israel is at war with Iran. The aggressive army that is treacherously entrenched in Lebanon is Iranian born, trained, maintained and supplied. They are no militia. They are not any para-military group. They are highly trained Iranian soldiers, indoctrinated with fundamentalist Iranian blood lust and executing Iranian intentions & policy. Iran, via impotent Syria has dug the bunkers and poured the concrete into the heart of Lebanon. So, please … let’s at least let’s get the name game right. Israel is at war with Iran. Larry RichIsrael’s Emek Medical CenterDirector of Development & International Public RelationsAfula 18101, IsraelPhone in New York: 646-546-5970 Phone in Israel: 972-4-649 4417Mobile: 972-50-5737 641Fax: 972-4-652 2642Email: rich_l@clalit.org.ilwww.haemek.co.il


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