February 22, 2020

The Woman Who Watches Israel's Northern Border

“At the end of August, there was tension in the northern Galilee. Israel stopped Hezbollah from launching a drone from Syria by killing two terrorists, who had both been trained in Iran, before they could carry out the attack. Two drones crashed in Beirut, and the Lebanese blamed Israel, which denied involvement.

Sarit Zehavi, founder and CEO of Alma Research and Education Center, a think tank in the western Galilee focused on geopolitics and security on Israel’s northern border, posted a video on YouTube on Aug. 27, briefing viewers on how Israel foiled an Iranian attack from Syrian territory, and Lebanon’s connection to the incident. On Sept. 1, Hezbollah shot several rockets into northern Israel.

Zehavi’s son Mor was supposed to have his bar mitzvah several days later in their hometown, just a short drive from Israel’s border with Lebanon. But now, the plan looked like it was going to be a bust, and it reminded her of an entirely different bar mitzvah story—her father’s.

Nov. 29, 1947, was a joyous day in Israel, because the U.N. authorized the partition plan that was meant to split Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. And it was supposed to be a joyous time for the Zehavi family, who were refugees from Syria, because Moshe Zehavi—Sarit’s father—was supposed to have his bar mitzvah. His parents invited plenty of guests and his grandmother cooked up a feast.

The next day, about a third of a mile from the Zehavi family’s Petah Tikva home in central Israel, the first hostilities in what came to be known as Israel’s War of Independence took place when Arabs ambushed two buses full of Jews. Moshe’s bar mitzvah was called off.”

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