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I Am Here Because They Called Me

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yuval Linden

Helen Linden, Administrative Assistant for the Year-In-Israel Program at our Jerusalem campus, writes:

Born in Jerusalem, my 29 year old son Yuval is an educator in the field of general history, Jewish studies, and politics. He is a graduate of Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva with a B.A. in History and Government and Politics. He is currently studying for an M.A. in History at Tel-Aviv University.  In addition to teaching in both formal and informal frameworks, Yuval is also a qualified tour guide in Israel and eastern Europe, certified by the Israeli Ministry of Education. In summer 2012, he worked as an educator for NFTY.  He now works at Bina, the Secular Yeshiva in Tel-Aviv where he is co-Director of the Mechina (pre-army program) and Gap Year Director.

Yuval received a tzav 8 (emergency army call-up) on July 13th and for two weeks was stationed on the border with Gaza. This Sunday, July 27, he called us prior to going in to Gaza.

This is a translation into English of what he wrote to family and friends that evening:


Yuval Linden – 00:42 28th July 2014, by Gaza

On the eve of our operational entry to Gaza, an ex-orthodox-yeshiva comrade of mine from our company asked me the following.

“Tell me, how can you go into a military action like this when it totally goes against your core beliefs?”

With a wan smile, as I anticipated his answer, I answered his question with an innocent question of my own.

“Why do you think that this operation compromises my core beliefs?”

“But yesterday you said that you are left-wing, no?” he responded, sounding a bit confused.

“Do you think that being on the left means that I oppose an operation whose aim is to uncover attack tunnels that have been dug with murderous intent? Why is there always this tendency to take the most extreme position as that of the moderate majority?” 

It would appear that my answer to Yossi satisfied him, even though he was surprised, however, as is my wont, I remained with my questions. 

I do not like wars.

I also have a lot of criticism of my government about what appears to me to be lack of investment in efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the woes of Gaza over so many years (notwithstanding the fact that there is no clear or simple or obvious solution).

With all that, as an Israeli citizen, activist, and a Zionist, I have no doubt about the importance of my being here now with my platoon under emergency call up.

I will make my choice at the ballot box, at election primaries, or in any legitimate protest that I choose. I will not do this on the backs of fellow Israelis from all over the country, who have spent the past three weeks under rocket fire and air raid warnings.

It is clear to me that I am innocent and naive.

It is clear to me that there will be those who will criticize me.

Those to the left of me will preach to me that I am being exploited time after time under the cover of “an emergency situation” that just prolongs the hatred. And my determination to do my reserve duty when called comes from brainwashing that started in kindergarten and continued to the last TV news broadcast with Ronnie Daniel (the Channel 2 military correspondent).

Those to the right of me will taunt me as to the fact that I have questions and they will accuse me of being faint hearted which can interfere with the wiping out of terrorism. In the best case they will demand that I leave the battle if I am not sufficiently motivated to fight and in the worst case they will offer me a number of alternatives with partners such as Hanin Zoabi and those like her.

This criticism does not faze me.

Quite the opposite.

My teacher and colleague, Eran Baruch, taught me that if you are being attacked both from the left and from the right, you must be doing something right.

I have taught my students in the pre-army program this year the concept of Maslow’s pyramid of needs (or rather, I hope that I taught them that…).

In these mad days we are fighting for the base of the pyramid – the need for basic security so that missiles are not falling from the skies or terrorists are not popping out of holes in the ground.

I pray that very soon we will return the foundation of the pyramid to its rightful place but I don’t mean to stop there. There is no point in fighting for this country if it is not filled with meaningful content.

To report to the reserves without your own vision of what the country should be like is just like running on the spot.

The power and strength of the Jewish people which is being exposed during the time of this crisis totally overwhelms the racism which uses the growing emotions in order to promote hatred and murder. With this power I will continue after I return my uniform to the call up center (the sooner, the better).

So I am here because they called me.

I am here for all the thousands of Israelis who have heaped upon me and on my comrades all their good wishes when we donned our uniforms.

I am here so that all of those who oppose this campaign will be able to enjoy the freedom of speech to voice their opposition to the consensus.

I am here because that is how I was educated and that is how I educate.

I am here because my comrades are here.

See you soon,


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu