While Palestinian Christians obsessively complain about the so-called “atrocities suffered at the checkpoints,” Captain Joshua Lazarus (pictured), 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)
Captain Lazarus oversees the training of all the soldiers responsible for guarding the border crossings and roadblocks along the Arab towns and villages surrounding Jerusalem.
Every day, tens of thousands of men, women and children pass through the checkpoints and road blocks guarded by Lazarus’ soldiers. “Most of them are on their way to work, or visiting friends or family, or buying groceries,” he says in private remarks to Israel Today. “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 Captain Lazarus’ soldiers.
“We’re trying to weed out any terrorists,” Lazarus explains. “Since Israel built 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 every day. 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 Lazarus. “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 or air force pilots,” Lazarus continues. “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 66 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, getting to know Messianic 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.
Watch Captain Lazarus’ video interview with the IDF Spokesman: