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WOUNDED ISRAEL

Part 1: In the Tention-Field

by Brigitte B. Nussbächer

How we experience Israel's battle with Hamas, the struggle for the release of the hostages and the Iranian attack at first hand.
Our impressions, encounters and experiences in Israel in April 2024.

Davidstern grün

Arrival under Threatening Omens

On the evening of April 7, 2024, we finally arrive in Israel. It is exactly six months to the day after the Hamas massacre. In Germany, a travel warning is in place for Israel - visits to the country are clearly discouraged. And the situation has by no means eased. On the contrary: Iran is threatening revenge for the attack on the embassy compound in Damascus. Israel is preparing for a multi-front war and has closed 28 Israeli representations (embassies and consulates) worldwide. On April 6, Israel put its military on high alert, canceled weekend leave for combat units, recalled a number of reservists to air defense units and blocked GPS signals. The home front command instructs all residents to store water and food in the bunkers, as well as battery-operated radios, lamps, batteries, first aid equipment and medicines.


Nevertheless, we were not deterred from our journey. Our love, our desire to make it visible and to help where we can, prevailed

I wasn't prepared for the feelings that came up inside me. All of a sudden, everything, which you have been following with great interest and empathy from afar, is very close to you. And suddenly you are affected yourself - it is no longer someone else's fate. I will never forget the feeling of powerlessness, of being at the mercy of others, of defenselessness that comes with the night. The anxiety of falling asleep - for fear of the circumstances under which you will wake up. The thoughts that don't want to come to rest. I feel a fraction of the terror that Israel has lived with for so long.

Ben Gurion Airport - familiar and yet strange. We have never seen it so empty. Apart from us, only 4 people without an Israeli passport have entered the country. It is the first visible sign of how much everything has changed here.

We spend the first few days in Tel Aviv. In the evening, we enquire about the bunker at our hotel and find out, that there is none because the house was built in 1866. We pack an emergency bag, so that we have the most important things at hand in the event of an attack.

Living Memorial - the Place of the Hostages

Life once bubbled here, we were impressed by the Israelis' joy of life, when we first came to Israel. Today, the smiles have disappeared from many faces. The square in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art has been given a new purpose. Relatives of the kidnapped gather here to recount their terrible experiences and keep the memory of the hostages alive.

The Fight Against Forgetting

We meet a family from Nahal Oz. They are here to tell the story of their kibbutz.

It is the first of these first-hand accounts that we hear. And like the personal experience of the horrors of the night, it changes our perspective. We get involved and turn into a part of the happenings. Their story becomes our mission.

The fact that they are sitting here today, is not something they take for granted, as they had originally planned to visit their son on October 6, at the Gaza border. However, as the kibbutz where he lived was celebrating its seventieth anniversary on October 7, they decided to arrive a day later.

In the midst of a cruel reality, they maintain their humanity. We are impressed by their confidence. When we tell them, why we are here and hand over our written prayer based on Psalm 23, they are surprised and visibly impressed.

Encounters in Tel Aviv

 

On the way home, we meet a couple of young female officers in a café. The Israeli soldiers fighting for the safety of their people have been under extreme mental and physical strain for months.

He returned from the front two days ago and now works as a shift manager in the restaurant.

 

He originally completed his military service as a mechanic in the Navy. During this war, he served as a mechanic in the tank brigades and repaired the defective tanks from Gaza.

The general assessment is, that the fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip is less dangerous and that the war with the much stronger opponents Hezbollah and Iran is still to come.


What was encouraging for Gal during this difficult time? The solidarity at the front lines and the love and care he experienced as a soldier from the Israeli civilian population.

We also speak to Daniel, the junior manager of the Drisco Hotel in Tel Aviv. We are the only foreign guests at the hotel at the moment and as he has lived in Austria for a long time, he wants to get to know us. We sit down together on the terrace. He has served as a reservist for four months since the start of the war and got married three weeks ago, later than originally planned, because of the war. He doesn't want to talk about his time at the front.

But he plans to leave Israel for a few years and only return, when there is more stability and security. This sad decision clearly shows, that many Israelis feel shocked, insecure, traumatized - and hopeless. Because everyone who leaves, gives up the two-thousand-year-old hope of being an independent people in the old homeland. And everyone, who leaves, ultimately fulfills Hamas' goal: to expel the Jews from Israel.

In the afternoon, we have an appointment with Mor, a manager at the George & John restaurant in Tel Aviv.
She is the granddaughter of Jews from Yemen, Egypt, Persia and Turkey.

While some of her grandparents immigrated before 1948, the others had to leave their Arab countries of origin after the War of Independence.

They pretended to travel to Italy and left all their belongings behind, because their emigration would not have been approved. They had a cobbler hide the title deed for a small plot of land in the sole of their shoe, so that they could take it with them.

The restaurant, where Mor works, was closed on October 8 after the Hamas attack and only reopened in December. The employees used the "free" time to prepare food for the soldiers and to care for evacuees.

She explains: "This is not a normal war. All humanity is being exploited. Terrorists simulate children crying in seemingly abandoned houses to lure soldiers into traps. Arab women pretend to need help so that Israelis can be distracted and attacked from ambush. Nothing is as it seems. Of the soldiers who return, many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder”.

 

But basically, she is more worried about society than rockets. After the attack, everyone stood together. But now, the old differences are resurfacing. "Our society needs healing, we have to learn to be united, even if we sometimes have different opinions." A normal life will only be possible again for Mor, after all the hostages have been freed and the evacuees have been able to return. She is certain that many will return to the borders - out of love for Israel, to protect the country. Until then, "it's not a matter of life, but survival". Otherwise she would feel guilty.

 

She is disappointed by the double standards and the hypocritical know-it-all attitude of the world. Nevertheless, she is confident, because Israel has gone through extremely difficult times - over and over again - throughout the millennia and has survived nonetheless. "You can break our hearts, but you can't break our spirit."

 

Her plea to us: "Raise awareness of our situation, talk about what you are experiencing here and don't allow the hostages to be forgotten“.

After three days, our journey continues to Jerusalem. GPS interference, designed to misdirect rocket attacks, occurs and reminds us of the constant threat from Hezbollah and Iran. We are on our way to the Kotel (Western Wall) when our GPS locates us in Cairo.


We have never seen the square in front of the Kotel so empty. But now it really is a place of prayer. No more screaming tourists posing and taking selfies. The atmosphere is wonderful.

The impressions continue the next morning. We are alone in the Bezalel hotel's breakfast room and when we walk into the old town afterwards, we realize that the once bustling, lively streets of the bazaar are deserted. Has the “Holy City” become a ghost town during the war?


Jerusalem remained outwardly unscathed on October 7. But the numerous terrorist attacks here afterwards and the current threat characterize the atmosphere in the city, as does the fear for the soldiers on the front and the mourning for those murdered, killed and kidnapped. In Tel Aviv the pain was very loud. Here it is quieter, but can be felt everywhere. Israel's open wounds have been bleeding for months and are sapping the country's vitality: the unfinished battle against Hamas, the cruel losses and the suffering of the hostages.

First publication: May 20, 2024

German:  Israel Heute   CSI    CFFI

English:  Israel Today

Copyright ©  Brigitte B. Nussbächer; Reproduction only after prior permission

But here, too, reality catches up with us: there are signs all along the sides, pointing to shelters, that didn't exist in the past.


On the way home, we cross the large square by the Hurva Synagogue. Lonely and dark. Only one other person besides us. Jerusalem is beautiful at dusk, but apart from us, hardly anyone enjoys it.

Reunion with Good Friends


The next day is characterized by encounters with old friends. First, Aviel Schneider from Israel Today comes by to welcome us, and then we meet Moshe Kempinski from the Shorashim Shop on the square in front of the Hurva Synagogue. This used to be a lively meeting place, and the store was usually too small for the many visitors and customers. Today it's just us.

He writes articles and publishes them, but it was equally important to him to be and remain a light in this place throughout the war. He also serves as a volunteer at the hospital, spending a few hours every day, trying to make the patients' lives easier, more beautiful, to show them appreciation and care and thus put a smile back on their faces. He lends a hand everywhere, no task is too menial or too difficult for him. For him, this time and everything that happens is not a setback, but an opportunity to become more powerful and better inside. His eyes light up with warmth and confidence at these words.

Thanks to personalities like him, Israel has incredible resilience and inner strength. He talks about people, who immigrate to Israel to support their country despite this time or precisely because of it. Here, the hope that has carried Jews through 2000 years of expulsion and exile is still alive – as well as the willingness to invest everything, to keep it that way.

Carry the Truth Out into the World

But everything has its good side - so Moshe has time, to sit with us and tell us what the last few months have been like for him.

And it is impressive, how he has tried to make the most of them:

Finally, in the evening, Corinne Goldberg visits us. She is a tour guide and we had the privilege of having her accompany us on our first trip to Israel, which was life-changing for us. She tells us, that in the first weeks after the massacre, she was paralyzed by the feeling of being let down. And she speaks about the justified lack of understanding, of why it seems so normal for the world that Israel is allowed to be attacked.

But she also talks about how the Israeli people came together after 7th of October and how they were able to mobilize a new strength within themselves.

Here, too, we receive the answer to our question of how we can help: by carrying the truth out into the world and being a voice for Israel.

Harbingers of the Iranian Attack

In the five days, since we have been in Israel, the threats of an Iranian attack have been getting louder and louder. On Friday, April 12, things become very concrete. We are contacted by the German Foreign Office. We are advised, to stay close to the shelter and prepare water, food and medicine. The headlines in the Israeli media read: "Israel is preparing for a direct rocket attack from Iran within 24 to 48 hours!" Washington is instructing its employees and diplomats not to leave their domiciles. No matter which media you look at, the warnings are screaming at you everywhere.

We have planned visits on Friday to families affected by the war, who want to show us the village from which they were evacuated six months ago: Kerem Shalom, in the very south of Israel - more than a two hour drive away. They want to meet, despite the threatening situation. A very practical example of how to defy danger and not give in to violence. The inhabitants of the border region in particular have long experience of this. But only after hearing the powerful story of Roni and Ofer's efforts as medical first responders during the Hamas attack, (which I will report on in detail in the article "The Legacy of October 7"), we truly understand, how particularly brave and undaunted they actually are.

For us, a situation like this is an absolute novelty. When in the last 70 years in Western Europe have you been advised not to leave your house because of the danger of a military attack? But we are not here as tourists. We have come with the aim of making ourselves one with Israel, to lend a hand and help where we can; to be contemporary witnesses. So, we decide to drive there anyway.

In fact, on April 12 there are "only" attacks from Lebanon on Galilee with over 40 rockets and in Samaria (West Bank) an Israeli shepherd boy is kidnapped by Arabs and stoned to death. This leads to violent clashes between Palestinians and the IDF, as they search for the boy.

If it is possible at all, the threats become even more violent the next day, Saturday, April 13. Acquaintances from Israel also write to us, to say, that they are no longer departing from near their shelters. We asked at our hotel, what we could do. We were shown a storage room with reinforced walls and a metal door. Of course, we couldn't prepare anything here or store anything for emergencies.

 

That day we were supposed to go to Kfar Azza, one of the most destroyed kibbutzim next to the Gaza Strip. Ralph wanted to tell us the tragic story of the place, where he and his family had lived for the last 44 years. We ask, if we should come anyway, because we definitely don't want to put him in any danger - it's a several hour drive for him, too. His answer is a clear yes, he doesn't want to give in to the terror. So we set off south again. There is little traffic on Shabbat anyway, but now there are hardly any cars on the roads. We have asked, what we should do, if we are surprised by an attack on the road: leave the vehicle, lie on the ground and protect your head with your hands. There are no other means of protection on highways and interurban roads.

In Kfar Azza, we can clearly hear machine gun fire, bombs and drones from nearby Gaza. Sometimes it gets so loud, that it is hard to understand Ralph. He doesn't bat an eyelid - we find it harder to be so calm. We are now surrounded by things, we've only seen in reports and films. We walk over scorched ground and stand in front of ruins - accompanied by the gloomy symphony of fate of the fighting nearby. From now on, we speak as eyewitnesses.

Here you can find other articles from Brigitte B. Nussbächer

The next morning we are thankful for a night without attacks - after a day with six rocket alarms. We make our way to the Hostages' Square in the heart of Tel Aviv. It is a path of pain. Pictures of the kidnapped, posters and yellow ribbons commemorating them, line Rothschild Boulevard everywhere.

In the middle of the spacious area is a tent with posters of the abductees on the walls. A long set table is waiting for them. Next to it, a tunnel about 20 meters long, dark, narrow and low. Shots ring out over loudspeakers. A few seconds of Gaza simulation.

"You Can Break our Hearts, but not our Minds"

We are all the more excited about the meetings that take place as normal: for example, the next evening with Anat and Aviel Schneider from Israel Today. Over the years, we have learned a lot from Aviel about the historical and political background of Israel. After the historic success in defending against Iranian missiles, in cooperation with regional partners, he now sees a unique opportunity to further expand this cooperation. But we also feel the scars, that this time has left in the souls of our friends. For months, they had to fear for the lives of their three sons and their son-in-law, who all served on the front line.

It didn't happen: their son contacted them with the terrifying news that a massive attack is taking place. The terrorists wreaked havoc for hours. They forced kibbutz residents to get their neighbors to open the doors. Fifteen people were killed and 5 kidnapped. By a miracle, her son and his children were spared. The luck of the place was, that there were several policemen there that weekend, who took up the fight with the terrorists, so that they could not destroy or set fire to everything. But after the terrorists came the civilians – in order to loot. Whole families from Gaza took what they could. The people of Nahal Oz had to spend the whole day in shelters. It was night, when they were finally evacuated. Thus they were spared the sight of the corpses and the extent of the destruction for the time being. Today, seven months later, their future is still uncertain. When will they return? There is talk of summer or fall, when the war is over. Three of the hostages were freed during the hostage deal in November 2023. They say that they were given 6 dates a day to eat - nothing more. One of them is still in the hospital in April. Two of the hostages are still being held captive seven months later.

 

What we don't realize at this point is, that this report is one of the less tragic ones, compared to what we will see and hear later. It hits us right in the heart to hear about these fates. So outrageous, so surreal on this beautiful, sunny day.


When we ask them how we can help, they say, “Tell them what you see here. Don't let the world forget”. We promise. When they hear that we are going to report about it on our website ARC to Israel, they say: “We need more people like you!”

What is it like for him to return to a "normal" life from the reality of the front? He is looking forward to it, because during the last six months at the front it was, as if his own life had stopped and frozen. Only the service for Israel was important. Now he hopes to be able to resume his private life ... for a while. Because he expects to be called up again soon, if the conflict with Lebanon or Iran escalates.

The visits of these two days (see article: "The Legacy of October 7") are invaluable experiences for us. In the midst of this highly charged field of tension - between the consequences of the massacre in October and the imminent attack from Iran - meeting those affected, facing the pain, the danger, the fears together with them, changes our perception and ourselves!

The Countdown is On - Close to the Battlefield

A Surreal Night of Destiny


We arrive back in Jerusalem unscathed in the evening and meet up for dinner with Werner Hartstock from Germany, who is leading a solidarity trip here. We are back at our hotel at around 22:00 o’clock.


What happens next, is surreal from today's perspective.
The home front command tightens the security instructions. At 22:00 we hear that the GPS in Jordan. Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are no longer working.

At 23:00 the first reports come in, that Iran has begun its attack on Israel and that Israel is closing its airspace. At 23:30, the Israeli military spokesman confirms the attack on television. The hope, that it was just Arab fake news, is gone.

A radar image shows that there is no longer any air traffic in the Middle East and that the Iranian missiles and drones can reach Israel unhindered. At midnight, it is announced, that the third wave of unmanned drones, has been launched into Israel from Iran. These drones weigh 200 kg, carry up to 60 kg of explosives and have a range of up to 2,000 km. You can calculate when these missiles will reach Israel.

In Jerusalem, you can hear many fighter planes taking off. The humming in the sky gets more and more intense.

 

We have packed a bag with our essentials and water. We will take these with us to the so-called shelter, when the sirens start to wail. There is a small hope, that Jerusalem will not be the focus of the attack, because there would be a great danger of hitting the Al Aksa Mosque.

 

This is the moment, when we are overcome by a strange sense of calm. When we planned this trip, we were aware of the potential danger and accepted it, because it was important for us, to show the people of Israel, how much we love them and that we stand by them, regardless of the circumstances. We updated our last will and finalized everything, that was open. I have also finalized my articles for Passover and Independence Day and handed them over, as well as the material for the planned Israel event on May 14. I have updated my report here from Israel every day and sent it to my good friend Ardelle, with the request to ensure posthumous publication in the worst case scenario. So we are prepared.

 

We consciously put our lives in God's hands once again - and then go to bed. It's 00:21 o’clock and there's nothing more, we can do, that makes sense. We don't want to sit there, as a bundle of nerves, waiting for the drones and missiles to arrive - which could happen at any time, even hours later. However, we remain fully clothed. I can't get the images of October 7th out of my head: how Hamas kidnapped the poor people in pajamas. Whatever happens, I want to retain some dignity.

 

Unbelievable but true: we manage to fall asleep. At 01:45 we hear three loud, hard explosions. The Iron Dome intercepts missiles over Jerusalem. The sirens begin to wail. We have a few seconds to reach the makeshift shelter - in which we are the only ones.

But not alone! The international prayer group, that we founded on October 8th, stands faithfully by our side - we communicate intensively for over an hour via WhatsApp.

The Miracle

What happened that night, is a miracle. Israel's air defenses fought like lions to protect the country and managed to intercept almost every one of the more than 300 incoming enemy drones and missiles. This is incredible and unprecedented. Only one child was injured by falling shrapnel and one military base was slightly damaged.
This night will go down in the history books and will probably be taught in military academies. But the lesson remains incomplete if the work of God is not mentioned...

We actually manage to fall asleep again in the early hours of the morning. But when we get up we feel the aftereffects of the night: as the tension subsides, we feel completely exhausted.

7 months after the Hamas massacre Israel is still fighting for the release of 132 hostages. Private photo

We have never seen Ben Gurion Airport so empty. Private photo

Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv has become an avenue of pain. Private photo

A set table awaits the return of the hostages. Private photo

Pictures of all the hostages hang in the tent. Private photo

The simulation of a terror tunnel in Gaza. Private photo

In the tent of the family from Nahal Oz. Private

With two female officers in Tel Aviv. Photo private

Gal, the shift manager at the restaurant, was on the front lines until two days ago. Private

On the same day, we also sit together with Gal.

Gal, the shift manager at the restaurant, was on the front lines until two days ago. Private

Mor, the restaurant manager, is committed to unity in Israel. Photo private

The Empty Streets of Jerusalem

GPS interference

Emptines in Jerusalem. Photo private

Signs for shelters. Private photo

Alone in the breakfast salon. Private photo

Lonely places in Jerusalem. Private photo

Closed bazaar shops.

Moshe Kempinski has maintained his confidence. Photo private

Years ago, Corinne significantly influenced our first impressions of Israel. Photo private

Rony and Ofer saved people's lives. Photo private

In Kerem Shalom. Private photo

Ralf shows us the destruction in Kfar Azza. Photos private

Rocket remains in Ralf's garden. Private photo

Security instructions Home Front Command

Radar image of the airspace over Israel

Flight time of the missiles to Jerusalem

In the shelter of the hotel during the Iranian attack. Private photo

Missile alert in Jerusalem during the Iranian attack.

The Day After


Life goes on. For many, even surprisingly normal. When we make our way to the Western Wall the next morning, the streets are no emptier than in the days before. But of course there are also others, who haven't dared to leave the vicinity of their bunkers for days and have therefore also canceled appointments with us.

Life goes on. Private photo

Jerusalem is unscathed the morning after the attack. Photos private

Dinner with Anat and Aviel Schneider. Private photo

Happy karaoke on the street corner. Private photo

As we leave, a small band is singing on a corner. They are beautiful, melodic songs. A larger circle has formed around them, the young people are listening and clapping. All they really want, is to live in peace, without being disturbed by others. Despite all their painful experiences and although they are so tired of the war, they do not give up. Once again, we take our hats off to this courage to survive and this resilience. We have heard it from many these days: this young generation is the hope of Israel. They will manage to overcome war and suffering.

For the Future


On our last day in Jerusalem before we leave our hearts are heavy, because we have to say goodbye. We think about how we can continue to be a blessing here. At that point of time, we have no idea what else this day will bring.

 

We learn about a project dedicated to traumatized IDF soldiers. They are to receive psychological support to help them overcome the terrible things, they have seen and experienced. Many of those who were responsible for recovering the wounded and corpses in the first days and weeks after the massacre, have still not gotten over the terrible impressions. You can only imagine, how horrific the images were, they were confronted with, when you consider that more than 50 of the visitors to the Nova Festival committed suicide after the massacre because they could not go on living with such memories.

 

Likewise, there are many, who are equally burdened by the murderous house-to-house fighting in Gaza, where the humanitarian facilities are misused by the terrorists and traps lurk everywhere.

We will support this project in the future with our association ARC to Israel. I will also be writing an article about the soldiers of the IDF in order to create more understanding of how special this army is and what it has to deal with.

The opportunity for a first interview arises spontaneously. These young men belong to the Golani Brigade, known as "the first brigade" (to deploy) and are very proud of it. I ask them, what is most important to them as soldiers in the IDF. The answer comes promptly and from all sides: ethical standards and morale. They fight for life, for peace, out of love and to protect their country, their people.

I look into the eyes of these young men. I see no hatred in them, not even anger. But a quiet sadness, that this fight is necessary. I want to know, what the hardest thing is for them. They shrug their shoulders. They don't think about it. They have a task and they want to fulfill it, as best they can.

Spontaneous interview with soldiers. Photo private

And they emphasize: we are not fighting against civilians. We help children and women - even in enemy territory. Unfortunately, this is often abused. To my final question, about how we can support them, we get the same answer, as almost everywhere else: describe, how you experienced us. Remind the world, that this fight was forced upon us and that we have to finish it, in order to be able to live in peace afterwards.

And we also meet Sandy, the manager of Be’ad Chaim.

With their organization, they help evacuated women from Israel's destroyed villages, who are giving birth during this time, without a real home.

Since October 7, they have visited over 600 such young mothers and supported them both financially and personally.

This is another project, that we will support with donations in the future, to help these young mothers and the newborn babies to build a new life from the ashes.  


These projects and the knowledge, that we can continue, to help carry burdens and alleviate suffering from afar, make it a little easier for us to say goodbye. Good friends say, that we will be back in Israel sooner than we expect. We hope so - because our hearts stayed in Israel.

Sandy helps expectant mothers from the destroyed places. Photo: Sandy Shoshani

But we are definitely going back to Germany with a clear mission: to report what we saw and experienced.
First I write the tragic story of the killed hostage Maya, about which we unexpectedly learn on the last evening: “Bring Maya Home Now".

This is the second article, that reflects the experiences of these days in April, from our perspective.
And the tragic fate of the Gaza border region and the personal, harrowing experiences of its residents receive their own memorial in words in the next article: “The Legacy of October 7th”.

Am Israel Chai. Photo private

Wie wir das Wunder Israel erlebt haben

von Brigitte B. Nussbächer

Wir haben in Israel mit eigenen Augen wahrgenommen, wie Gott zu seinem Volk steht. Wir haben anhand von Fakten und Tatsachen gesehen, wie die Aussagen der Bibel Realität werden und wir haben überall im heutigen Israel Gottes in Erfüllung gehende Verheißungen erlebt.​

Vorausgegangen war eine eher mühsame Entscheidungsfindung. Israel einmal zu besuchen gehörte zur „Allgemeinbildung“ von Christen. Trotzdem hatte es mich nicht hingezogen und die Berichte derer, die von Reisen aus Israel zurück kehrten, hatten wenig dazu beigetragen, es zu ändern. Wenn sie von den sogenannten „Heiligen“ Stätten berichteten, fragte ich mich immer, was es mir denn bringen würde, diese Ruinen oder Gedenkkirchen anzusehen. Viel mehr interessierte mich, was Gott heute in der Gegenwart erlebbar machte.

Letztlich war es dann tatsächlich auch ein anderer Gedanke, der den Anstoß zu dem Besuch gab. 2018 feierten mehrere nach dem 2. Weltkrieg gegründete Staaten ihr 70. Jubiläum – darunter auch Israel. Nachdem wir Dokumentarfilme über Indien und Pakistan zu dem Thema gesehen hatten, fragte ich mich, wie wohl Israel diese 70 Jahre genutzt hatte. Im Vergleich zu den anderen Staaten musste es ungleich schwerer gewesen sein, aus dem Nichts etwas aufzubauen.  Noch 1867 hatte Marc Twain das Land als desolat, eine stille, traurige Weite ohne Mensch, Baum und Strauch bezeichnet. Was war daraus geworden?

Und so begaben wir uns auf eine geschichtliche Studienreise, was sich im Nachhinein als Volltreffer erwies. Nie hätten wir in einem Individualurlaub so viel erfahren und kennen gelernt.

Noch während wir vom Flughafen Ben Gurion nach Tel Aviv fahren, hören wir die Entstehungsgechichte dieser Stadt, von der Parzellverlosung an ein paar Dutzend Familien nördlich der jahrtausende alten Hafenstadt Jaffa im April 1909. Diese wollten auf den Sanddünen, die der niederländische Bankier Jacobus Kann gekauft hatte, die erste jüdische Stadt der Moderne bauen. Und dann fahren wir auch schon an den ersten Hochhäusern vorbei und nach Tel Aviv hinein, welches heute (rund 100 Jahre später) die modernste und weltoffenste Metropole des gesamten Nahen Ostens ist.


Im sehr originell und lebendig gestalteten Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv erfahren wir von dem beeindruckenden Kampf des jüdischen Volkes für seine Unabhängigkeit. Und von der Vorgeschichte: als die UN 1947 beschloss, das ehemalige britische Mandat in 2 Länder aufzuteilen: ein jüdisches und einen arabisches. Von dem Protest der Araber und von dem Druck, der auf die Juden ausgeübt wurde, diese Chance nicht zu nutzen. Von der Proklamation des jüdischen Staates durch David Ben Gurion am 14. Mai 1948 und von dem Angriff der 5 arabischen Länder Ägypten, Syrien, Jordanien, Irak & Libanon um Mitternacht am gleichen Tag.

Man muss sich die damalige Situation vergegenwärtigen. Ca. 650.000 Juden, viele von ihnen Holocaustüberlebende, die gerade erst das Grauen hinter sich gelassen hatten, versuchten Israel, welches als neugegründeter Staat keine Armee besaß, mit Gewehren, Maschinenpistolen und Granatwerfern gegen eine Mehrheit von 160 Millionen Arabern (ausgerüstet mit Panzern, Artillerie, Schützenpanzerwagen, Flugzeugen und Kriegsschiffen) zu verteidigen. Ein Verhältnis von 1 : 246!  Dabei wird einem die menschliche Ausweglosigkeit bewusst und dass das Überleben Israels ein Wunder ist.  Mit Tränen in den Augen verlasse ich das Museum. Jetzt verstehen wir, welch hohen Preis das jüdische Volk (nach der Auslöschung der 6 Millionen durch den Holocaust)  im Unabhängigkeitskrieg für seine Existenz bezahlt hat.

Umso mehr staunen wir über die Lebensfreude und Energie, die heute auf den Strassen Tel Avivs spürbar ist und die wir bei den Menschen, denen wir begegnen, erleben. Wir sehen die Fähigkeit dieses Volkes schnell aus dem Nichts etwas aufzubauen (sie haben weltweit die 2 höchste Anzahl von Start Ups), ihre Genialität Lösungen für scheinbar Unlösbares zu finden, wie zum Beispiel mit Wasserentsalzungsanlagen am Mittelmeer den Wassermangel zu beheben und durch computergesteuerte Tröpfchenbewässerung Plantagen in der Wüste anzubauen. Wir sind überrascht, dass Israel die zweithöchste Akademikerquote und die dritthöchste Patentquote der Welt hat und bewundern, dass 23% aller Nobelpreisträger aus diesem kleinen Volk, dass nur 0,2 % der Weltbevölkerung ausmacht, stammen.

Wir erleben ihre Kreativität sowie ihren Sinn für Kunst und Schönheit. Israel hat gemessen an der Anzahl der Einwohner die meisten Museen und Orchester per capita und liegt auf Platz 2, was die Anzahl der verlegten Bücher anbelangt. Wer hier ein Konzert besucht, wird einem sehr hohen künstlerischen Niveau und großer Begeisterung des Publikums begegnen.

Wir streifen durch Städte, Orte, Landschaften und sind beeindruckt: unglaublich was hier in nur 70 Jahren geschaffen wurde. Dort wo sich früher Sümpfe, Sanddünen und wüstes Land befanden, haben Pioniergeist, Innovation und Durchhaltevermögen überall blühendes Leben entstehen lassen. Israel ist das einzige Land, in dem die Wüste rückläufig ist, Millionen Bäume wurden gepflanzt und entlang der Autobahn blüht tropfenbewässerter Oleander. Aus dem armen Agrarstaat ist ein Land mit führender Technologie und einer starken Währung entstanden. Israel gehört heute zu den 10 einflussreichsten Ländern der Welt und liegt auch im Happiness Ranking vorne. (Siehe Grafik unten)

Je mehr Israelis wir persönlich kennen lernen, desto mehr schätzen wir ihre konstruktive Einstellung, ihre Dynamik und ihren Mut – trotz ihres bis heute andauernden Ringens um ihr Recht auf Existenz.

Wir hören von den Kämpfen im 6 Tage Krieg 1967, von der Befreiung der Altstadt Jerusalems und wie die Juden wieder Zugang zu ihrer heute heiligsten Stätte, der Westmauer, erlangten.

Und von dem „Tal der Tränen“, so benannt nach der anfänglich auswegslosen Situation im Jom Kippur Krieg 1973, als die syrische Armee mit über 1.000 Panzern im Norden Israels einbrach und von weniger als 200 Panzern auf israelischer Seite aufgehalten wurde.

Wir sehen den Wiederaufbau nach wiederholter Zerstörung, sei es nun die Hurva Synagoge in Jerusalem oder die Siedlungen in Gush Etzion.

 

Und wir nehmen wahr, dass selbst die häufigen Terroranschläge in dieser Gegend den Menschen weder die Lebensfreude noch den Lebensmut rauben können, auch wenn sie schmerzliche Verluste zu beklagen haben.

Wir erleben die „Wächter Israels“, die jungen Soldaten und Soldatinnen auf den Straßen, die für Sicherheit sorgen und lauschen den Zeugnissen von sogenannten „einsamen“ Soldaten, die freiwillig ihr Heimatland, Verwandte, Freunde und ein angenehmes Leben verlassen, um in der IDF (Israels Defence Forces) zu dienen. Tatsächlich spielt die IDF auch eine wichtige Rolle bei der Integration und der Schaffung eines gemeinsamen Nenners in der israelischen Gesellschaft.

Denn die Bevölkerungsvielfalt ist erstaunlich. Die Holocaust Überlebenden von überall aus Europa, die ca. 700.000 Juden, die nach Israels Gründung aus den umliegenden arabischen Ländern vertrieben wurden, die Einwanderung aus Afrika und die großen Aliyah-Wellen aus der ehemaligen Sowjetunion haben alle dazu beigetragen. Die Bevölkerungszahl Israels hat sich in den letzten 75 Jahren ver-14-facht (im Vergleich dazu hat sich die Weltbevölkerung in den letzten 50 Jahren „nur“verdoppelt).

Am liebsten hören wir jedoch die Geschichten von jenen, die freiwillig nach Israel kamen, weil sie es als ihre Aufgaben betrachten, dieses Land aufzubauen und sich mit großer Energie dafür einsetzen.

Was uns aber am allermeisten beeindruckt – und tatsächlich auch überrascht hat - ist die intensive, innige und lebendige Beziehung, die viele Juden zu Gott haben. Da uns in den säkularen, kirchlichen und freikirchlichen Kreisen, aus denen wir stammen, die Rolle und Bedeutung von Israel und dem Judentum nicht vermittelt worden war, weder als geistliche Wurzel noch für die Zukunft, waren wir implizit davon ausgegangen, dass so eine Beziehung zu Gott nur bei Christen möglich sei. Jetzt sahen wir mit eigenen Augen wie falsch diese Annahme war.

Heute weiss ich, dank dem erschütterndem Buch „Holocaust“ von Susanna Kokkonen, dass der christliche Glaube bewusst vom Judentum differenziert wurde, seit Kaiser Konstantin der Große die Anerkennung des Christentums als rechtmässige Religion einführte, sich aus politischen Gründen zum Oberhaupt der Kirche ernannte und das erste Konzil im Jahre 325 einberief. Er erklärte, dass die Juden für den Tod Jesu verantwortlich wären, also betrachtete man sie als „Gottesmöder“; verdammt und der Gnade Gottes und der Menschen unwürdig. Eine weitere Lehre dieser Zeit, die „Ersatztheologie“ besagt, dass Israel seine Rolle in Gottes Plänen verspielt hätte und die Christen nun das neue Israel seien. Die Kirchenväter vor und nach diesem ersten Konzil verleugneten den ewigen Bund zwischen Gott und den Juden systematisch, beziehungsweise glaubten, dass Gott diesen Bund aufgehoben hätte.

Der Einfluss dieser Lehren die seit über 1700 Jahren im Umlauf sind, ist erschreckend tiefgreifend. Im Grunde wurde hier schon die Legitimation für Judenhass und Judenverfolgung geschaffen, für Verleugnung und Ignoranz. Hier liegt der idelogische Ursprung von Inquisition, Progromen, Kreuzzügen und Holocaust.

Eine Konsequenz daraus war, das einerseits bei Übersetzungen versucht wurde, die Hinweise auf das Judentum auszulassen und andererseits bei vielen christlichen Themen der jüdische Ursprung nicht erwähnt wurde. Beispiele dafür sind christliche Feste, die alle ihr Äquivalent in den jüdischen biblischen Festen haben (z.B. Passah-Ostern, Schavuot-Pfingsten, Weihnachten-Chanukka) oder auch andere Bräuche: so zum Beispiel ist die jüdische Bar Mitzwa, bei der junge Erwachsene in die Gemeinschaft der Gläubigen aufgenommen werden, das Vorbild für Kommunion/Konfirmation/Jugendweihe - um nur ein paar Beispiele zu nennen.

Das gleiche spiegelt sich auch in der Kunst. Wer z. B. durch die Uffizien von Florenz streift, (eines der berühmtesten Kunstmuseen der Welt mit Werken der Malerie und Bildhauerei von der Antike bis zum Spätbarock), stellt fest, dass es aus dem Alten Testament Bilder von Adam und Eva gibt. Das nächste große Thema ist die Ankündigung von Jesu Geburt. Alles was dazwischen liegt, ist ausgeblendet.

So sind sich viele bis heute des jüdischen Erbes nicht bewusst. Derek Prince, ein Bibellehrer unserer Zeit (und die, die mich schon lange kennen, wissen, dass ich jahrelang für Derek Prince Ministries gearbeitet habe), fasste es einmal so zusammen: Wir stehen tief in der Schuld des jüdischen Volkes.
Ohne dieses hätte die Gemeinde keine Patriarchen, keine Propheten, keine Apostel , keine Bibel und keinen Erlöser. Wenn uns all das fehlen würde, was gäbe es dann noch, was uns das Heil bringen könnte? Alle Nationen der Erde verdanken das Wertvollste an ihrem geistlichen Erbe den Juden.

Aber obwohl wir Derek Prince persönlich begegnet waren und viel von unserem Israel-Bild von seinen Worten geprägt war, mussten wir feststellen, dass auch wir Gefangene des Denkens der Kirchenväter waren. Auch wir hatten gedacht, dass die Juden verloren sein mussten, da man ja nur durch Jesus zum Vater kommen könne und übersahen dabei geflissentlich, dass Paulus in Römer 11 eindeutig sagt, dass Gott sein Volk nicht verstossen hat (Vers 1), dass er seine Gaben nicht zurück fordert und die Zusage seiner Erwählung nicht widerruft (Vers 29).

Und jetzt waren wir in Jerusalem und begegneten dem jüdischen Volk Israel erstmalig in seinem eigenen Land.

Was für uns ganz eindeutig wurde, war, dass die Gründung und das Überleben dieses Staates, seine schnellen Fortschritte und Errungenschaften, der Lebensmut und die Kraft, die man in so vielen Menschen in Israel beobachten kann, rational und menschlich nicht zu erklären sind, sondern auf eine besondere Energiequelle und Kraft zurück führen. Hier in Israel war Gott überall im Alltag erlebbar.

Seit über 2000 Jahren spricht die Bibel von einem lebendigen Gott, der Israel als sein Volk auserwählte und der verhieß, dies Volk nach seiner Zerstreuung wieder in das Land seiner Vorfahren zurück zu bringen und es besonders auszustatten. Dies jedoch auf einmal mit unseren eigenen Sinnen zu sehen, zu beobachten, veränderte uns.

Als wir am Ufer vom See Genezareth sassen, kam mir der Gedanke, dass Juden vorgeworfen wurde, Jesus nicht erkannt zu haben – obwohl doch das, was um ihn herum geschah, offensichtlich und eindeutig war … Und dass heute viele Christen das, was Gott in und mit Israel tut, nicht erkennen – obwohl es ebenso offensichtlich und eindeutig ist.

Wir begannen die Bibel mit anderen Augen zu lesen. Was wir bis dahin überlesen hatten, stach jetzt deutlich hervor.

Wenn man sich vergegenwärtig, dass Jesus in Matthäus 5,17 selber gesagt hat „Ihr sollt nicht meinen, dass ich gekommen bin, das Gesetz oder die Propheten aufzulösen; ich bin nicht gekommen aufzulösen, sondern zu erfüllen“, dann kann man die Bedeutung von Israel und Jerusalem schwer überlesen.

Denn auf dem Berge Zion und zu Jerusalem wird Errettung sein – steht in Joel 3,5

Und Sacharjia weissagt in Kapitel 8, 22: Menschen aus großen und mächtigen Völkern werden nach Jerusalem kommen, um den HERRN, den Allmächtigen, zu suchen und den HERRN gnädig zu stimmen.

Jesaja prophezeit in Kapitel 60, 2-3: Finsternis bedeckt das Erdreich und Dunkel die Völker; aber über dir (Zion) geht auf der HERR, und seine Herrlichkeit erscheint über dir. Und die Völker werden zu deinem Lichte ziehen und die Könige zum Glanz, der über dir aufgeht.

Wir haben in Israel mit eigenen Augen wahrgenommen, wie Gott zu seinem Volk steht. Wir haben anhand von Fakten und Tatsachen gesehen, wie die Aussagen der Bibel Realität werden und wir haben überall im heutigen Israel Gottes in Erfüllung gehende Verheißungen erlebt.

 

Die Bibel spricht in Sacharja 8,23 davon, dass „in jenen Tagen zehn Menschen aus Völkern mit lauter verschiedenen Sprachen einen Mann aus Juda am Rockzipfel festhalten werden und bitten: Wir wollen mit euch gehen, denn wir haben gehört, dass Gott bei euch ist“ - für uns sind diese Tage bereits angebrochen…die Beziehungen zu unseren jüdischen Freunden und die Verbindung zu Israel sind zu einer der wertvollsten Konstanten, einer Bereicherung und einer Quelle des Lernens in  unserem Leben geworden.

Davidstern grün
ELAL

„Bruchim haba'im le’Israel - Willkommen in Israel” klang die Stimme des Piloten aus den Lautsprechern und das Flugzeug rollte langsam zur finalen Position. Wir sahen neugierig aus dem Fenster. Was würden wir in diesem Land, über das so viel Widersprüchliches berichtet wird und dass es vor 100 Jahren noch nicht gab, vorfinden? Ich wusste damals nicht, vor welcher lebensverändernden Erfahrung ich stand!

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