Dear Friends, 


We wish you all a wonderful Passover or Easter Holiday. Spring is alive here in Israel with flowers and new life popping up all around us. It is one of the most beautiful seasons I can remember in a long time. 


Here is a story about our son Joshua we thought you should know.


Messianic Officer Sets Checkpoint Record Straight


While Palestinians obsessively complain about the so-called "atrocities suffered at the checkpoints," Captain Joshua Lazarus, the Messianic Jewish officer in charge of training guards for the checkpoints gives the real story in a short new video clip produced by the IDF. (See below)

 Josh oversees the training of all the soldiers responsible for guarding the border crossings and roadblocks along the Arab towns and villages surrounding Jerusalem.  When Israel gained control of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, the Arabs of East Jerusalem were issued special identification cards.  They were offered full Israeli citizenship, and though most refused, they were given the blue IDs which allows them more freedom than West Bank residents.  They have the freedom to travel throughout Israel without special permits.  They are allowed to vote in local elections.  East Jerusalem Arabs also receive Israeli social security and health benefits.  According to Israel's Central Bureau of Population Statistics there are more than 250,000 Arabs living in greater Jerusalem.

Everyday tens of thousands of these men, women and children pass through the checkpoints and road blocks guarded by Josh's soldiers. "Most of them are on their way to work, or visiting friends or family, or buying groceries," he says. "There are pregnant women rushing up to the hospital in Jerusalem, and angry taxi drivers trying to make some money.  We have to deal with Palestinian Authority officials, UN diplomats, international media, donkeys, farmers, just about everything and anything passes through here."  These crossings are a microcosm of all that is good, bad, and unfathomable in the lives of East Jerusalem's Arabs, and it all passes daily under the alert and formidable gaze of the Captain's soldiers.

"We're trying to weed out any terrorists," Josh explains. "Since Israel build the security wall, these checkpoints are now the main targets for potential terrorists trying to get through unnoticed amongst the hundreds of people passing through everyday. We have to check each and every one.  A lot of them are angry and try to push through without being checked. It's a tough job."

Some believe that the constant friction between the soldiers and Palestinians at these roadblocks causes more agitation, hatred and even terrorism in the long run. "Sure, the people get angry at us, and sometimes it gets pretty rough," says Josh. "But what alternatives do we have?  How else can we stop the bombs and terrorists?  Sometimes we just have to put up with a bad situation because it could be worse. It's our job."

"It is a tense and complicated situation for these young soldiers. This is why I wanted to be an officer in the first place," says the young captain. "A lot of my friends went to be paratroopers, Golani or air force pilots. For me, this is a really important job.  We are dealing with a huge problem here, and nobody knows how to fix it. Not many soldiers want to do this job. Everyday I need to remind them about how important their job is. I've come to realize that we don't live in a world where everything goes the way you want," he says. "Serving here wakes me up to the harsh realities of life in Israel and just how complicated it can be." 

Israel turns sixty-six this month and it doesn't look like we'll be getting an early retirement from the Palestinian--Israeli conflict. Peace talks are going nowhere, again. Whatever the future holds, watching Captain Joshua Lazarus and some of his soldiers out there on the checkpoints has given this old man, at least, something to be proud of. 

IDF Officer Sets the Facts Straight about Security Crossings


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David Lazarus

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