In travels abroad, the first thing that usually strikes me is the quiet, the calm, the ease of life flowing around you. Israel is a place like no other in the world. It is, as we all know, the only Jewish State in the world, the only land where the vast majority are Jews. Only here does our religion and history fill stores, schools, life. Only here.
So the pulse of Israel, the tune of our hearts, is different than what you’ll find in the streets of Rome, London, Athens, New York or New Delhi. Our religion forged a bond with this land that has remained within us from ancient times until this very day. We have nurtured and cherished that bond until it is, quite simply undeniable. We are forced by others to defend what is ours. Another obvious point is that for more than 70 years, in ebbs and waves, we have been at war.
Earlier this week we celebrated Yom Yerushalayim. Fifty-four years to the day that Jerusalem was reunited and returned from captivity. Ours again, ours forever. For 19 years, they held part of our city, the heart and symbol of what it is to be a Jew, the Temple Mount. They denied us any entrance, for 19 years but cry and whine if we dare restrict them for even one day. And, obviously, they and the world ignore the reason for those restrictions. At the heart of each is the behavior, the violence, they chose to release. More than 50 years ago, they desecrated our cemeteries, used tomb stones to build walls and bathrooms and they restricted us, not once a year, but every day of the year, for 19 years. And, their “why” had nothing to do with our actions, merely our existence. Merely, our clear and obvious connection with a land they want for their own.
On our Temple Mount, on the ruins of our Holy Temples, they built a mosque, several in fact. And from the heights and depths of that holy place, they continue to preach hatred. Hatred and lies. And the world is forever ready to condemn the Jew, to believe the worst. If we were to be honest, we would have to admit that the western world fears Islam and the violence that is rampant within their own countries, never mind what they bring to ours.
Endlessly, we fail to accept differences in culture and mindset. Even when they are the ones proclaiming such differences. It was Hassan Nasrallah who more than a decade ago confessed the eternal truth so well, “The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.”
Once again yesterday, from a placed that was meant to be the center of God’s kingdom, a beacon calling the world to prayer, came cries for violence and bloodshed. In this “holy” month of Ramadan, we hear and see and know only violence and blood. Three young men attacked, one murdered, another in very critical condition. Hundreds of fires have burned over 5,000 dunams of land.
More rocket fire, hundreds of thousands of people are under fire, rushing to bomb shelters. This week, the beautiful Beeri Nature Reserve was hit. It’s a beautiful area preserved for all, open to hiking, bicycling, and simply going to see the beautiful wild flowers that grow in safety there. Where once beautiful flowers grew, the earth has been blackened and the smell of smoke permeates the area.
Who will mourn for Beeri? Who will cry out in anger that once again the land and people of Israel are under attack? Not Washington, that once again demands our “restraint”. Not the Europeans, not even some wise and alienated Jews in the United States who believe the news our enemy wants them to believe but lack faith, even after all these years.
Whatever Ramadan is supposed to be, in Israel, it is a time of hate and blood and violence. Rioting all over Israel, fireworks shot at buildings and people. Rocket fire. Arson attacks. Physical attacks on Jews caught in the open. Attacks on our soldiers and police. Violence and hatred. Ramadan.
So now, once again, we are there on the edge waiting to see what will happen this time. Whether Hamas will pull back and claim they want peace and Israel was the aggressor or decide they need a war to bolster their demand for power and elections. Whether the Israeli political instability will pull us further down or perhaps worse, prevent us from a proper and firm response.
We who have spent 73 years on the brink, find ourselves once again in the seemingly eternal game of waiting to see whether “relative” calm will return or all-out war will follow. After more than 25 years in this country, I have learned that no one can really predict what will happen. Not even the Prime Minister of Israel or the multiple wannabes. All it takes is a solid missile hit, God forbid. All it takes is what they crave – death and blood and darkness. So as the yet another warm day starts in Israel, we contemplate.
Apparently, once again, yet again, it is time to make it very clear to our enemies that the choice is theirs. They can live with us in peace, or they will know no peace. They can curb their violence and choose death but we will continue to choose life. They will not, ever, defeat us. We are stronger, in the power of our armed forces, but even more so in spirit.
Rockets will be stopped even if it means another war. Perhaps it has been so long that our enemies have forgotten that our sons and daughters protect us from the land and from the skies and from the seas. We will always be the first to stand for peace but maybe, after all these years, we have forgotten that war is inevitable when your enemy thrives on hatred and violence. Perhaps this time, we will take the decision from their hands.
In these trying days, police and soldiers are everywhere. Ready. Waiting. Prepared. The Iron Dome protects our skies, but what our enemies forget time and time again, is that the real power of the State and People of Israel comes from Above, high Above even the Iron Dome’s range, the Guardian of Israel waits and watches.