Danny Sills

While at MHS, Danny Sills was one of the lacrosse captains and a member of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, which gave him the opportunity to travel around the U.S. and abroad. He plans to visit Israel for three weeks in July. Sills will attend California State University, Northridge (CSUN), where he plans to study statistics and political science. Sills has been accepted to CSUN’s nationally recognized School of Education, which has admitted several students to the university to participate in a program to support students with Asperger’s Syndrome. He plans to live on campus and join a fraternity during his time at the university. 

Can anyone discuss the situation in Israel without turning it into a “political discussion?”

I can. But first make sure you have a nice cold batch of Kool-Aid on hand.

My 18-year-old son Danny, a recent Malibu High graduate, is there right now on a three-week Leadership Training Seminar with B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO), for which he has planned for a couple of years.

Danny left New York on July 1, just as the news was revealed that the missing Israeli teens were found dead the night before. My husband and I contacted our friends in Israel to inquire about the reaction to the tragedy and posed the question, “Is it safe for Danny to go?” Their collective answers were the same, “Of course.”

I thought about that. I pictured their shrugged shoulders and perhaps their rolled eyes. “Of course.” After being in Israel last year, I get it, it’s the Israel Kool-Aid drinking response.

And then I thought about my reaction over the years to foreigners asking me the same question, “Is it safe to come to America?” especially after any of our despicable mass shootings. “Of course,” I respond while gulping my own American Kool-Aid.

Safety is in the eye of the beholder.

But then the Israeli teens were found dead, the Palestinian teen was found burned to death, the Israeli police were video taped beating a Palestinian-American teen and the rockets started flying out of Gaza.

My teen is there. My hands were shaking as I watched the Twitter feed #Israel and round-the-clock CNN coverage. Planes landing in Tel Aviv were dodging rockets. I know it’s sensationalized, with Wolf Blitzer running for cover during an air raid and all the reporters in Gaza wearing helmets and flak jackets. But some how I felt like I was keeping an eye on my kid.

We spoke to our Israeli friends, Rabbi Judith (who is there) and BBYO sent reassuring emails to the parents and rerouted the itinerary, staying away from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (which they had already been to, but were going to finish the trip there). The new plan was to keep them in Tsfat for a few days and then off to the safety of Eilat, which is “out of missile range” and has an airport, should they need to evacuate the kids. And, you have to love that Iron Dome! OK, bottoms up on a big glass of Israeli Kool-Aid for me, it’s quite effective. I even do a rather convincingly calm interview with NPR about what it’s like to have a SoCal child in Israel during the “conflict.”

Monday I felt a little better. Cease-fire was discussed, BBYO had the kids safely in Tsfat and the plan to go to Eilat seemed comforting.

Until the Twitter text alert I got at noon; a couple of missiles hit Eilat and caused damage and slight injuries. What about the Iron Dome? 

Tuesday, I received another email from BBYO, which reports 

that they have rerouted the kids again and they are not going to Eilat. Great. What about the safe airport? Am I relieved?  I don’t even know anymore.  

And now the cease-fire has fallen apart. The politics are too broad to comprehend and discuss articulately.

I just want my kid home.  

I’d like to tap a vein and start an IV of Kool-Aid, but, in the meantime, does anyone have a suggestion of which glass I should drink next?

Laureen Sills

(1) comment

Lois Lyons

I have no suggestion as to what to do right now until your son is home, but if I were you I'd keep my kids, myself and my whole family out of war zones no matter how much reassurance is coming from friends there. I would not go or send a child to Israel or any country where combat is taking place until the fighting and rebel action has stopped for at least a year. It's sad and frustrating to miss opportunities to visit a land you feel a connection to, but keeping yourself and your family safe should trump all travel plans until it's deemed safe. No one should have to duck bombs and bullets when traveling if it's at all possible to avoid it altogether.

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