Determined And Proud
ali Dotan, a 17-year-old Israeli, has big plans
when she graduates high school in two years.
Those plans include serving in the army, study-
ing science in college, beginning a career and
raising a family. She vows not to let 34 months of
Palestinian terror disrupt her life.
Tali, daughter of Vered and Aaron Dotan, is an 11th-
grader in Ganei Tikvah, a Tel Aviv suburb of 12,000 peo-
ple. Her dad is a marine biology professor and her mother
a computer software distributor.
Speaking for her teenage friends, she says: "We live nor-
mal lives, just like Americans. I know it's
hard to think that we could do that. But
our daily life is really safe. There is a sense
of danger felt by our parents sometimes;
they rather we not go out. But we've got to
go on with our lives. We're afraid if some-
thing bad happens. We're so sad. But we
basically do everything."
They walk to school, go shopping, take
ROBERT A. the bus, visit nightclubs and hang out on
the beach — things that might seem off
"When you go on a
bus," Tali said, "there's a chance a terror-
ist will be on board; we all know that
and we all live with that. Still, the
chance of that is smaller than the chance
of my going into the road and getting
hit by a car."
Security is stepped up in public places,
but danger always lurks.
On July 15, a knife-wielding
Palestinian turned away from the Tarabin
cafe stabbed passersby on the beachfront
promenade in Tel Aviv, killing Amir
Simhon, 24, of Bat Yam. The Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist wing of
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah
faction, gleefully laid claim to the attack.
"It can be dangerous, but Israelis still
go to the promenade to show they're
going on with their lives," Tali said.
Poised, energetic and engaging, Tali is
one of 30 special ambassadors in the Tzofim Friendship
Caravan, part of the Israeli Scouts' U.S. delegation this
summer. She and the nine other 17-year-old Scouts on a
singing tour in the Southeast and Midwest staged five
shows in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas Aug. 8-11. The
Jewish community centers of Metropolitan Detroit and
Washtenaw County brought them here.
Part of the Scouts' mission is to help North American
Jews deepen their Jewish identity and their alliance with
the Jewish state. In return, the Scouts experience our tapes-
try of ways to be Jewish.
Chasing A Dream
I caught up with Tali after the Aug. 10 show at the JCC in
West Bloomfield — the 86th of 110 scheduled perform-
ances over nine weeks. The personal story she told in the
show moved me.
When she was 8 in 1994, she said, Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin went to Washington to say, "Peace is our
goal. It is peace we desire."
"We are 17 years old," she told the audience of about
150. "When our parents were 17, a peace agreement with
Jordan or Egypt seemed like a distant dream. But they did-
n't stop believing. And what then was a dream is now reali-
ty. We are only 17. But we know that if we all believe, if
we all make it possible, we will see peace in our lifetime."
I'm not as optimistic, given Arafat's zeal to drive Jews
from Israel and incorporate the biblical land into a new
Arab state. His new prime minister, Maumoud Abbas, is
nuts if he thinks Israel, a democratic nation, will let loose
all Palestinian prisoners — the murderers along with the
Despite the turmoil, Tali will fight proudly for the Jewish
homeland. "It's something every Israeli does," she said. "It
makes you more mature.
"When I go into the army," she added, "I will be afraid,
not because there's a chance of me dying, but because it's a
whole different program than anything I will have seen
Women serve at least two years. They usually have to ask
before being put in a fighting unit. "And I might ask to be
in one," Tali said. "If that will be the thing I can donate
the most to my country, that's what I'm going to do. I'll
Her brother, Hila, 18, is three weeks
into a 12-year service commitment as a
fighter pilot. She also has a sister, Ido,
who is 12.
Tali's West Bloomfield hosts, Sue and
Bob Rollinger, found it hard to fathom
the Scouts in combat. "They're just fun-
loving kids like America's Jewish youth,"
Bob said. "It's a ponderous thought how
lucky our youth are."
Not Giving Up
Tali thinks the Palestinians at last seem
ready for serious peace talks — the con-
tinued, sporadic terrorist attacks
"There's a new future for us," she said.
It's a matter of wanting. "If more peo-
ple on both sides want peace enough and
are ready to give some and not only take,
I think every problem we have we can
solve," Tali said.
She appreciates every Jew who visits Israel or makes
aliyah. "I think it's really good and really important that
Jews here in America feel that Israel is their home, too,"
Whenever Israel targets a terrorist leader, a Mideast ter-
ror group retaliates with a suicide bombing or an ambush
of soldiers. It's deflating to think Israel must rely on an
unstable Palestinian leadership that equates precision
strikes to diminish terrorism with legions of suicide
bombers who kill and maim Israelis to spite Jews.
Terrorists no doubt are using the current truce to reload.
Two suicide bombings on Tuesday killed two Israelis and
injured at least 1 2; more attempts are inevitable.
So Israel cannot dare weaken the timbers of its resolve.
As Tali Dotan put it: "Our soldiers are just people who
want to defend their country; Palestinian bombers just
want to hurt. And they think that hurting us will make
them stronger and they will win. We cannot stop living.
We cannot stop going out and doing things.
"Israel must stay strong." fl
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