Israeli Teen Amidst War: Shani Vilan, an 18-year-old Israeli girl, is noticing how quickly she is growing up because of the war in her country.
“No one told me about it; it just happened.” I’ve heard of parents killing their kids and kids killing their parents. They are being kicked out of their homes. Their building caught fire. They have been wiped out. “They were killed,” Vilan remembered with sadness.
In Israel, about the size of New Jersey, Vilan has to face the harsh truth that she knows some of these sick people.
Some family members and close friends. Everyone is my brother or sister, even the ones I don’t know personally. I own them. They are citizens of my country, Vilan said with firm resolve.
In the wake of such destruction, hope seems like thin air you can’t catch. But Vilan hears hints of it from the middle of San Antonio, a very long way away.
“The city is amazing; it feels like a second home, but the community was without a doubt the most memorable and important thing for me.” Vilan said, “The amazing people who love Israel and San Antonio so much showered us with love and kindness.”
She worked hard for a year in San Antonio. She became very involved with the Jewish community, the schools, and the city. In August, she left for Israel, taking with her the love and care of her new family in San Antonio.
“I know they’re terrified and brokenhearted, just like we are in Israel for what is happening here,” Vilan stated.
On the other hand, she feels the same way, especially about the safety of her big family in San Antonio.
Vilan admitted that her neighbourhood is uneasy: “I know people who haven’t been sending their kids to Jewish schools or wearing Jewish uniforms because it has two symbols on it.”
This makes her think about what’s been happening lately, especially last Saturday.
ISIS and Hamas are alike… She said that the group was a terrorist organization whose only current goal was to kill Israelis and Jews. She brought up terrible events that are too horrible to explain.
She clarifies that her pain is only directed at Hamas and not at all the Palestinian people. She has never changed how much she feels for the innocent people caught in the crossfire.
“They are a terrorist group that hurts their own people. They are getting rockets put in front of them. She complained, “They’re setting them up to fail.”
She says her people are sad about all the innocent lives lost as their country fights terrorism. This is especially true for young people like her who have hopes and dreams.
No one deserves that. My dream would never come true, not even among Palestinians. Folks from the outside are there. I know that. Vilan said, “And I wouldn’t want any civilians, anyone who isn’t hurting me, to suffer.” Her kindness cut through the darkness.
Before the start of the war, she was excited to begin her necessary service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). But she can’t join the army yet because the whole country is now in the war zone.
“Being in a uniform puts you in danger already.” They will only sign you up if they need you immediately. She was ready and willing to do her job and protect her country, “But I’m waiting for it.”
In the meantime, she uses her anger to help her people by ending lies and pleading with them to work together for peace instead of war.
“Calling for peace and calling for love and calling for safety,” she stated.
Vilan wanted to draw attention to the fact that the Jewish Federation and San Antonio city officials called for support for Israel together. This showed that there are strong ties between people in different places.