Houstonian fights in Israel's defense

By Andy Cerota - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is taking place more than 6,000 miles away from Houston, but for one woman, the rising tensions overseas hits very close to home.

"It does, but I have a lot of faith," said Ellen Buchine.

Buchine's 20-year-old son, Jesse, a Houston native, has been serving alongside Israel's military forces since March. He joined first as a volunteer but this summer he became a dual citizen. Buchine said that was a decision she whole heartedly supports.

"He didn't want to take Israel for granted as his emotional and spiritual home. He felt should something happen, he should defend her," Buchine said.

Buchine's son is one of at least 10 Robert Beren Academy graduates from the Houston area who've joined the Israeli military. Buchine, a teacher at the school, said students gain a love for Israel early on, so much so, that by the time they graduate it becomes a part of them.

Gal Benmeir, a fellow teacher at Beren, agrees. He says there were quite a few Americans in his platoon.

"It's about heritage, about wanting to be connected to the people, to the Israeli's in particular, to the culture and sort of wanting to work on the differences and also to learn from each other," Benmeir said.

Buchine said she talks to her son at least twice a week. A lot of people ask her if she's constantly worried about his safety. Her response is usually always the same.

"You know what, people can get in harm's way anywhere in America," Buchine said.

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