Choosing Life in Israel, by P. David Hornik (a columnist at Frontpage Magazine, a contributor to Pajamas Media, American Spectator, and elsewhere), is a collection of essays vividly describing the author’s life in Israel with all its attendant regional whiplashes. Its trajectory veers like a roller coaster ride from the wildly delicious to the deeply terrified. From personal ups and downs to heart-stopping high drama, its quick pace leaves one breathless. The author’s compelling voice projects a rich tapestry of experiences living on the front lines of the Middle East.
The book is broken down into two highly readable sections. Part One deals mainly with the ins and outs of daily life in Israel with its multifaceted challenges. Its nine stories are interwoven into concise and entertaining segments, not without cold doses of reality smacking the reader across the face. One such episode is particularly emblematic of what it means to live not only in Israel, but in Jerusalem; the epicenter of international fixation, bordering on fanatical obsession.
From “Mistaken Random Terror in Jerusalem:”
…just down the street from me, George Khoury, a 22 year old student of economics and international relations at Hebrew University who was out jogging, was shot dead by terrorists from Al-Aksa Martyr’s Brigades, part of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement… The “impersonal” nature of most terrorism… is its most chilling aspect… and killing him because (supposedly) he’s a Jew — is that personal or impersonal? Indeed, the Martyr’s Brigades was quick to apologize once it found out its error. Its commander called George Khoury’s father, the well known East Jerusalem lawyer Elias Khoury… and that the group considers George a “Palestinian martyr.”
Adding considerable angst to a father’s normal bereavement, Elias Khoury’s father, Daoud Khoury, was also murdered for being in the wrong place at a most unfortunate time. Visceral flashbacks surely must have resonated through Elias Khoury’s being. But when it comes to Islamic-sustained terror everything is flipped on its head. Even though he lost his father due to a booby-trapped refrigerator placed by the same Fatah terrorist outfit in the heart of a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, his reaction to his son’s and father’s death evinced “moral” equivalency: “The Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades are individuals who are trying to impose their way on everyone… this act was carried out by a group that undermines the cause of Palestinian justice… I am against all violent attacks against innocent civilians, whether it be against Israeli or Palestinian civilians.”
Well and good, except for the fact that Israeli security forces take great pains to spare the lives of Palestinian civilians, often at unfathomable costs to its own soldiers and citizens alike. Those who invariably become “collateral” damage are accidental victims of legitimate counter-terror operations. Most significantly, many Palestinian casualties are strategically placed (by their leadership) in close proximity to bomb factories etc., in anticipation of an international hue and cry when the dead and maimed are paraded before the world’s cameras. More to the point, the author elicits many such examples of bloody jihad waged all over the streets of Israel, seemingly with no end in sight. Consequentially, P. David Hornik demonstrates, even when bereaved, Israel’s minority population is unwilling to condemn terror for what it is: murderous jihad.
Segueing to Part Two, the reader lands even more squarely in the heart of the hottest conflict in the world, aptly titled “Israel’s Struggle to Survive.”
Part of the richness of Choosing Life in Israel lies within its many paradoxes. In one fell swoop one can be swept up with pride when reading about the efficiency of Israel’s Defense Forces as it engages the enemy, though mostly in “reaction” to sustained terror on its citizens, instead of pursuing an initial offensive doctrine. This is absolutely the result of political “strategies,” as opposed to military readiness. To be sure, for the most part, the IDF is a well-oiled machine, and its special forces are second to none. At the same time, the reader cringes with embarrassment, bordering on acute distress, witnessing many hard-fought battles evaporate into nothingness as Israel’s political leadership reflexively turn battlefield victories into one “concession/peace” gesture after another. An unsustainable vicious cycle is played out, year after year.
Specifically, “How Not to Defeat Hamas” illustrates heartburn-worthy renditions of appeasement, while exemplifying the above dichotomy. “From the beginning, Israel has always fueled the Palestinian Authority’s war against it — quite literally. It provides the Palestinian Authority with key supplies like electricity, water and, through Dor-Alon Energy Company, even with gas and cooking gas…. Last Wednesday, though, Dor-Alon announced it was suspending supplies due to unpaid debts. Yet, by Thursday, the company said it was resuming supplies after P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas promised to send payments within 10 days.”