I just returned this morning from my 2 plus week stay in Israel. I was living in a beach guest house in Beit Yannai, 15 minutes North of Netanya, and about an hour South of Haifa. I spent my time working at INTRA ( The Israel National Therapeutic Riding Association).
On the one hand, I was in idyllic circumstances. The guest house was a 5 minute walk to the beach along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. I managed to get to the beach for an hour nearly everyday to walk, or sit and read, or write in my journal, or at least to sit on the cliff overlooking the sea in the evening to watch the spectacular sunset. Every morning I walked the 20 minute walk to INTRA where I volunteered as a 'side- walker' or 'lead-walker' for the children and adults who came to INTRA for their horse therapy sessions. I loved being part of the work, helping people with physical, emotional and developmental problems heal and /or improve their conditions through the horses. The joy on their faces as they rode and accomplished small and large tasks is indescribable. The tranquility of INTRA, of walking alongside these people and alongside the amazing horses, pervades the air. I basically spent everyday there from about 8 AM- 12:30-ish and then returned at around 3 after the break, until around 7:30-8PM. Everyday I returned to my place dripping in shvitz, dirty, with my boots, shirts and jeans splattered with sand, etc, from the riding arena and happy, happy, happy!
I loved learning how to care for and tack the horses. I especially loved giving them baths...such an opportunity to truly be up close and personal with them! It is an extremely relaxing thing to do. Having the chance to be with Pokie ( the horse that many of you helped us buy for INTRA 3 years ago) and her 2 'kids'- Siegel and Starlight was complete joy for me. I love it when Pokie gets me in her view and walks over to me, does her 'horse breathing greeting' and then places her face on my neck, or right up against my chest, near my heart, and we just stand there like that communing for a few minutes. I guess if you're not an animal lover this may sound weird, but for me it is pure heaven!
So all of this was happening at the same time that the war in Lebanon was raging. And, although, we were not personally threatened by it, Beit Yannai is located along the flight path of the army helicopters and war planes that are flying regularly all day and night to Lebanon. So it was impossible not to think about the situation even as we worked with the people who came to INTRA for lessons. In fact, with the children and the adults with the developmental problems, we always wave to the helicopters and planes in order to allay their fears. The situation is constantly on everyone's minds...radios and TVs are on non-stop...it is part of most conversations.
I have copied Noah's letter to the editor of the Boston Globe because he so succinctly and eloquently describes why Israel is working so hard to rid the MidEast and the world of this terrorist threat. The tragedy of the Lebanese civilians weighs heavy in Israel, but the threat to Israel by the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists is real and must be dealt with.
So, now I am home and back to 'reality'. I return to work tomorrow and like everyone, will be watching the news about Israel, praying for the safety of Israel's soldiers and the people of Israel, and praying that Israel and the people of Lebanon will soon be rid of the evil that is Hezbollah.
Mideast matters of proportion
July 18, 2006
ISRAEL HAS been criticized for its ''disproportionate" response to Hezbollah attacks on Israel. After all, we hear, Hezbollah and Hamas ''only" abducted three Israeli soldiers.
Does this mean Israel should only be allowed to respond by kidnapping three Hezbollah terrorists? What is the proportionate response from a sovereign state against terrorist organizations who openly call for its destruction?
This conflict is not about three abducted soldiers. It is about radical Islamic extremists refusing to allow any Jewish sovereignty in Israel. The Palestinian Authority never disarmed Hamas, and Lebanon never disarmed Hezbollah. If Arab moderates are unwilling or unable to rein in these terrorist groups, Israel is left with no other choice than to defend itself against these unprovoked attacks.
Jenny Sand lives in New Jersey.