Lebanon, Written by: Talia Goldberg

It was so sad, to see the devastation caused by the explosion in Beirut this week. Watching that, made me think of the emotions or baggage that so many Israelis have when they think of Lebanon. In 2006, I was 9 years old it was the time of the second Lebanon war. We were always practicing going to shelters and so many adults, like my parents, were in the reserves. But as the I grew older the conversations about Lebanon grew quieter and there weren’t as many problems at the northern border. But even though things didn’t seem as tense, the reality of the past trauma Israelis had with Lebanon still existed.

I remember the first time I saw Lebanon, I was a young girl, and we went to a place called Rosh Hanikra. Looking at the border I asked my dad, “can I really put my hand through the gate and I will be in Lebanon?”. I don’t think my dad understood why I would want to ask that, because it turns out there was nothing he wanted less, then to never be in Lebanon again.

He never spoke of Lebanon. We knew he was there – in the war. We knew shooting happened there. We knew he was in Beirut at some point. But nothing was ever going to make him speak of that time again. The most we ever learned, was the time we ran into his former Commander on a hike one day. The Commander told us that our dad is the most amazing guy he ever met. We wanted to hear more, but my dad stopped the conversation and made us leave.

As I grew older and watched the movie “Waltz with Bashir,” a story about thousands of people being killed in Lebanon during the Israel/Lebanon war in the 1980’s, I started to understand why so many carry Israelis carry “baggage” when it comes to Lebanon. This animated film that shows the life lost made me sob and clutch my heart, and made me ask my dad, “was that what Lebanon was like?” But his memories were blocked and he had no interest to talking or remembering anything of that time for me.

This week Beirut was devastated and on fire, and for the first time in my life Israel is standing with Lebanon, and not against it. And now, the trauma of past wars rise to the surface and some people are asking why? Why are we helping them? But, I know, that’s who Israel is! Saving life wherever it is.

I’d like to share a Utah story that relates to all this. During my first month in Salt Lake City, I made a friend whose name is Becky. Very quickly, I found out that she is a Lebanese Jew – a real one who grew up in Beirut. Her family made up part of the 40 Jews who were left there. She told me that their synagogue was destroyed by an Israeli bomb. Clearly, it wasn’t easy to be Jewish there. She was so nice and so I invited her to speak with my religious school classes. During her talk about how close Lebanon is to Israel, a 3rd grader asked a question that I’ll never forget… “so if you want to meet each other, can you just go to the boarder and talk to each other?” That simple question made us both understand that those in Lebanon and Israel can definitely be friends…and for me helped confirm the reason that Israel is supporting Lebanon right now, during its time of need.