The following was written by an 11-year old resident of Jerusalem, who immigrated to Israel with his family one year ago, to his friend back in Florida.
When we spoke on the phone last night you asked me if I can see tanks driving through our neighborhood in Jerusalem. At first I thought you were kidding, but when I told my parents what you had asked, they said that anyone following the situation in Israel on American television might ask the same question. They explained to me how the television and newspaper reporters mix everything together, so that you would have no way of knowing where it is happening and definitely not why it is all happening.
Jacob, you know how sometimes a kid in school will get into trouble with the teacher because he hit back at another kid who was picking on him? And if the kid who was picked on happened to be stronger and a better fighter he got into even more trouble because the principal looks at both kids fighting as the same? I think that is what is happening to Israel because when we watch the American networks on cable TV they always make it sound like Israel is the bully and that when Israel tries to protect itself it is the same as when the terrorists try to kill us.
Israel has been a state for 52-years. In that time, the bullies have picked on us without stopping by making five wars and using terrorist attacks in between when it is supposed to be peaceful. So Israel had to become strong in order to survive. When I watch CNN and BBC, I think that we're being punished for being strong because they never explain why we have to protect ourselves and they make it sound like we just like shooting Arabs. And they never seem to show the Israelis who have been killed and hurt very badly by bombs, gunfire and even rocks thrown at them. You know how your Dad takes you to the Marlins baseball games? Some of these dads take their little kids out for a day of rock throwing. They even get paid if they get hurt. But when the Arabs throw rocks at us and at our cars, the guys on TV make it sound like they are just a bunch of kids having fun.
Jacob, you know that in a few years I am going to be in the Israeli army. My brothers have already begun what they call the army process - one in a Hesder yeshiva where they combine religious study with army service and the other has received his call-up date. Everyone here does it. My parents say that it makes them scared and very proud at the same time. When a newspaper reporter asked Ilan how he felt about going into the army he said that every generation has had to take their turn protecting the rest of us and that now it's his turn. Remember when you were here how you saw so many soldiers walking around with guns? Everyone wishes we could stop seeing that, but we can't stop all alone.
Jacob, while you are learning math, English and history in school this year, do you know what the kids in the Palestinian Arab schools are learning? They are learning to hate us, that they are supposed to kill us and take away our land. They even have a map of what they call Palestine that covers every inch of land that is Israel. They are even taught that our Holy Temple was not in Jerusalem! If they get their way, I won't be able to write to you anymore because we won't be here.
Jacob, we can't see tanks from our window, but there are tanks only a few minutes drive from here. Kids our age woke up in the neighborhood of Gilo last week and saw tanks in the streets. It was because the Arabs were rioting in a village nearby and bullets were even flying into Jewish homes in Gilo. I don't understand why the guys on TV don't say that our tanks and soldiers will go away if they stop throwing rocks, gasoline bombs and firing guns. I don't have to be an adult or a general to figure that one out. But they keep making it sound like we are so bad.
Jacob, I have a favor to ask. Could you tell your parents to tell all of their friends what is really happening over here? And tell them to tell everyone they know to come here soon. This is your home, too, Jacob, and the home of Jews everywhere. So if they can't live here yet, at least they can get to know us by visiting here. I'm sure they will love it as much as I do. My Mom says there is nothing Jews living in America can do that is more important than coming here. It's the only way to really understand what is happening, and it's a real neat place, too.
And Jacob, one more thing. I remember how we used to pray for the missing soldiers back in Boca. Now there are seven missing and one guy who's not even a soldier that was kidnapped in Europe. Please ask the kids back in school to keep praying for them, and for a strong Israel, too. We are fighting to keep you safe, too.
This letter was written by 11-year old Gavy Friedson, with the help of parents Felice and Michael Friedson, producer/hosts of The Jewish Horizons Radio Network, a syndicated program broadcast live to the United States from the Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza hotel each week.