I recently joined some 30 volunteers from a dozen countries as part of Sar-El Volunteers For Israel to work with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). As a Christian Zionist on his third visit to Israel this year, I was mostly united in purpose with the others who came at the outset of the war against Iraq.
All this week there's been some strange goings-on at the intersection of Us and Them.
I am in Israel for a few days to visit the victims of terrorist acts. I'm on my own, not with a group. It's the first time I've been in Israel with a purpose other than visiting family and enjoying myself. I'm not frightened but there is something unsettling to visit Israel this way. It was the idea of my sister, Dalya. She had returned from Israel a few weeks earlier. She just heard on the radio about a suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem.
Rhonda Van Hassalt's concerned father offered her $1,000 not to go to Israel. Although the money would have been enough to send both Van Hassalt's and her boyfriend to Europe for winter break, it wasn't Europe that was tugging at her heart -- it was Israel.
For many years while growing up, I was embarrassed by my last name: Heinstein. I was surrounded by Jews, but they got the lucky surnames -- you know, the ones without a -berg, -stein or -man. Come on, I was entering the rock 'n' roll biz; it was about crosses, not Stars of David. I can't have a geek name like Heinstein! Okay, I was aware of Lenny Kravitz and David Lee Roth, but at least their names didn't end in -stein. So, I used my middle name: Evan. Steven Evan. It was doable.