The Philadelphia Jewish Voice

September 2006

Special Dossier: Echoes of War
• How To Support Israel 
• Arithmetic of Pain 
• Staging Qana
• Garaway 
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Israeli solider reaching out to youth.
Special Dossier: Echoes of War


Speakers present pros and cons of ceasefire with the Hezbollah.

-- Bruce Ticker

When 3-year-old Noam Garaway wondered why his father was leaving home, 1st Lt. Isaac Garaway of the Israeli reserves instantly communicated his mission: ?I have to go fight the Hezboliath."

"Are you going to throw a lot of stones at the Hezboliath?" Noam asked.

The father assured him he would indeed toss stones at the ?Hezboliath? before his wife, Frosien, drove him to the Lebanese border on July 14, Garaway told an audience of 70 a month later, on Aug. 15, inside Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel in center city Philadelphia.

The 30-year-old Garaway, a Ph.D. student at Technion in Haifa, said he feared that in 16 years his son will confront Hezbollah or another modern-day Goliath in combat because the Arabs will not discard their core philosophy that Israel must be destroyed. ?I have zero confidence in this ceasefire," he said. ?I fear that time will come at the expense of my son. I think we're losers (in the ceasefire)."

While Garaway is pessimistic about the United Nations Security Council?s ceasefire, Israeli Consul Shahar Shelef described practical advantages offered by the Aug. 11 resolution, saying, ?We expelled them from their position from the border and removed the immediate threat. We will no longer tolerate the transfer of their weapons."

He added that ?Israel expects the international community? to implement the terms of the resolution which calls for an embargo of weapons, strengthening the United Nations force, disarming of Hezbollah and an end to hostilities. ?This is an opportunity to change the rules in Lebanon," he said.

Most of the fighting has ended, but many Israelis have blasted their leadership for accepting a U.N. resolution which excludes the immediate release of two Israeli soldiers. Their capture near the border with Lebanon on July 12 sparked the confrontation which has claimed the lives of more than 150 Israelis and 800 Lebanese. In the few days following the synagogue event, Lebanese officials announced that their army will not disarm the Hezbollah, who are expected to hide their weapons, and neither France nor any country has formally committed troops to the 15,000-member international force which will complement the 15,000 Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon.

Both Garaway and Shelef blamed Hezbollah for the war. ?It seemed that the (Israeli) government was not prepared," Garaway said. ?Why should we be prepared? The U.N. resolution was supposed to protect us."

The Security Council passed Resolution 1559 in 2004 requiring that Hezbollah and all other militias be disarmed. Pointing to six years of Hezbollah rocket attacks into northern Israel, he noted, ?We didn't start this."

Shelef recounted how Israel was thrust into the conflict by the July 12 raid in which eight soldiers were killed and two were kidnapped, and subsequently the Hezbollah fired more than 100 rockets into Israel nearly each day as 15 percent of Israel's population cowered in bomb shelters for a month. Referring to some larger nations, he said, ?All these countries would defend their people. They would fight the enemy."

"Our enemies have tried to disrupt life in Israel," Shelef continued. "They have failed." He attributed passage of pro-Israel Congressional resolutions in part to the backing from American Jews, saying, "This incredible outpouring of support from you gave us the strength to do what is right and just."

Garaway recalled he was in a bathing suit playing sprinkler with his son when the Israel Defense Forces ordered him to Lebanon within the hour. He said his fellow students at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, were taking their matriculation tests when the first Hezbollah shells struck Haifa, at 9:45 a.m. He said a motorist was killed in a direct hit outside Technion's east gate. ?Many Arab students are happy that rockets are hitting Israel," he recalled. However, Christian Arab students seemed to support for Israel, he added. Garaway's appearance was sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Society for Technion of Bala Cynwyd.

He said that at one stage 35 Syrian tanks massed along the border with Israel. He said he believes Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other leaders "tried to do their best. They did make mistakes." He added that he would rather put soldiers like himself at risk than endanger civilians on the enemy side, saying, ?We must fight but not at the expense of killing innocent children."

Garaway said he has lost friends in other conflicts, but fortunately not in this one. Besides his wife and son, he also left behind a year-old daughter for his brief tour in Lebanon. His wife, who is pregnant, drove him to the front.

As they got close to the border, rockets struck nearby. ?We're crazy," she declared. "If a rocket hits this car, we can orphan our children at this moment."