From the Wilderness and Lebanon

From the Wilderness and Lebanon - An Israeli soldier's story of war and recovery (Hebrew: מן המדבר והלבנון) is the English translation of the first book by Israeli author Asael Lubotzky. The book records his experiences when serving as an officer in the Israeli army during the 2006 Lebanon War and recounts autobiographically his long period of recovery from the wounds he sustained in battle. The book was originally published in Hebrew by Yedioth Books in 2008, and became a bestseller, and in English translation under this title in 2016. The army's former chief of staff, General Moshe Ya'alon, wrote a laudatory foreword.

From the Wilderness and Lebanon
Book cover of From the Wilderness and Lebanon.png
Front cover
AuthorDr. Asael Lubotzky
Original titleמן המדבר והלבנון
Min HaMidbar VeHaLevanon
TranslatorProfessor Murray Roston
CountryIsrael
LanguageHebrew
Genrememoir
PublisherYedioth Sfarim (Hebrew); Koren Publishers Jerusalem (English)
Publication date
2008
Published in English
2016
Media typePrint, e-book, audiobook
Pages206
ISBN978-1592644179
WebsiteFrom the Wilderness and Lebanon

SynopsisEdit

The book describes the Second Lebanon War from the perspective of a platoon commander in the Golani Brigade. It records the preparations for battle, the fighting itself, and the responsibilities and challenges that faced him as he led his men forward under fire.

The first section records how the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit compelled Israel to respond and fight in Gaza. Battalion 51, part of the Golani Brigade, entered Gaza. From fighting there the soldiers were called to fight in the north, in what came to be called the Second Lebanon War and forms the subject of the second section. Among the many engagements, the most memorable was the Battle of Bint Jbeil in which Roi Klein, the deputy-battalion-commander was killed together with seven officers and men. Among the fallen was Amichai, the author's closest friend, and Asael describes the terrible experience of finding himself holding the dead body of his dearest comrade. It is to the latter's memory that the book is dedicated. After many days' fighting at Bint Jbeil, the author himself was severely wounded when an anti-tank missile hit his vehicle.[1]

Then comes the period of his personal struggle, the mental strength he needed in order to undergo numerous operations, lengthy hospitalization, and a protracted period of rehabilitation during which he learned to walk again.[2]

In addition to those personal experiences, there emerge certain stories connected with the past, such as the discovery that the nurse who tended his grandfather, Iser Lubotzky, when injured as a partisan fighting against the Nazis was the mother of the doctor who was treating Asael.[3] As a result of his experiences during his hospitalization, Asael determined that he too would study medicine[4] and, despite the fact that he walks on crutches, Lubotzky has since then become a qualified pediatrician working at the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.

Title of the bookEdit

The title of the book has a double source. It records the geographical area in which he fought, but it also refers to the biblical verse Deuteronomy 11:24: "Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be", defining the boundaries of the Promised land. There is the further implication that the Desert and Lebanon represent different emotional situations - the first symbolizing the difficult period of his rehabilitation, and the second representing the resilience it demanded.

ReceptionEdit

The book became a bestseller and received wide coverage,[5] perhaps because it recorded acts of heroism in a war that was perceived by many as a failure. Former IDF chief of staff and former Israeli Defense Minister, Lt. General Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, wrote in the Foreword:

Asael's diary provides a picture of a young native-born Israeli standing up to challenges that few young men in our world are required to face: questions of life and death, of human dignity, challenges both ethical and moral, of command and operational responsibilities in peace and war and, subsequent to his injury, challenges demanding courage in overcoming pain and disabilities. In all these respects, Asael's story proves yet again the victory of spirit over matter.

Many reviews of the book saw it as representing 'the beautiful Israel', the embodiment of modern Zionism, while others felt that it should have criticized more forcefully the political and military leadership of the war.

The English translation of the book was launched on October 20, 2016, in Jerusalem at an evening event entitled "Faith and Doubt in Times of Uncertainty". The speakers were Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Brigadier-general Avigdor Kahalani, and the author, Asael Lubotzky.[6] Today the book serves as a text in the IDF's officers' course.

AuthorEdit

 
Lieutenant Asael Lubotzky in IDF service prays with tefillin.

Asael Lubotzky grew up in Efrat, studied at the Hesder yeshiva in Ma'ale Adumim, was accepted to Shayetet 13, but chose to enlist in Golani's 51st Battalion. He underwent a training course as a combat soldier and was chosen as the outstanding company cadet. After completing Officer Candidate School Asael served as an officer commanding a platoon of the Golani Brigade. He led his platoon in the fighting in Gaza and, during the Second Lebanon War, fought in many battles in which many of his comrades were killed and wounded, until his own severe injury in the Battle of Bint Jbeil left him with a disability. After his rehabilitation from the injury, he began studying medicine at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, qualified as a doctor,[7] and is now specializing in Pediatrics at the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.[8]

Lubotzky's first book, From the Wilderness and Lebanon, describing his experiences in war and his rehabilitation, was published in 2008 by Yedioth Ahronoth, became a best-seller, won critical acclaim[9] and was translated into English. A second book, Not My Last Journey, documenting the life story of his grandfather, the partisan and Irgun officer Iser Lubotzky, was published in Hebrew in 2017 by Yedioth Books and Menachem Begin Heritage Center.[10] Lubotzky won the Leitersdorf Prize for the Arts for 2017. Lubotzky lectures on various topics in Israel and abroad.[11][12]

Asael Lubotzky is the son of Prof. Alexander Lubotzky and grandson of Prof. Murray Roston. He lives in Jerusalem, is married to Avital (Schimmel) and they have four children.[13]

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