Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Living in Jerusalem, my newly married daughter and son-in-law are adjusting to more than just marriage. The “knife intifada” has claimed the lives of several Jerusalemites in their neighborhood, and they are learning to live with an evolving set of realities. They avoid public transportation and densely populated areas, wear backpacks as armor, and order groceries online instead of venturing out to the shuk. Being constantly aware of their surroundings has become their new way of life.

If several days go by without a terror attack in their vicinity, they feel lulled into a state of semi- complacency. I continue to urge them to be vigilant and use whatever protection they can. But is pepper spray the answer?


Israel is certainly no stranger to terror. Indeed, being a Jew is all too often laden with latent undertones of vulnerability. Israelis are born into a society demanding an almost sixth sense of proficient security. And that demand has produced a remarkable level of resiliency, something most Israelis are proud of.

But the need for resiliency is currently stretching acceptable limits. Israel has been subject to nearly two months of daily terror attacks. Stabbings, car rammings, shootings and stonings by Palestinians eager to die have become so commonplace that two or three attacks a day don’t merit any mention in the world press. Unless, of course, the press stoops to spin an incident into a shameful sham favoring the Palestinians.

There is something more primal about these personal attacks than the suicide bombings of earlier intifadas, which ravaged the Israeli psyche as much as it ravaged the Israeli economy. The tactics employed to combat the dangers then are failing now, and wariness is turning into weariness.

Years ago, after a particularly gruesome suicide bombing in Jerusalem, an account detailed the impressive resiliency of Jerusalemites, who swept up the glass of shattered store windows and carried on. Unfortunately, ordinary citizens did not have many alternatives. And it wasn’t until too many Jews were blown to bits that the government finally built a security wall that ultimately limited the attacks.

With each new wave of terror, the bar for a tolerable norm is raised. Now all of Israel is at the front line. The increased presence of Israeli soldiers and police on patrol may be comforting but hasn’t diminished the danger. Urging citizens to arm themselves, building temporary barricades, and removing knives from the Knesset cafeteria will do little to assuage an intolerable situation so long as the root cause of the violence is allowed to persist.

Human beings are adaptable creatures, but to what extent is it morally acceptable to demand that they continue adapting? Resiliency should be a way to fight life’s challenges, not a way of life itself. At a certain point its excessiveness becomes an absurdity. Expectations by Israeli leaders that the citizenry will adapt to a new and unsettling reality is as unfairly presumptuous as it is counterproductive.

A change in the status quo on Israel’s ground will only follow a change in the status quo of Israel’s policies. That means doing an about-face regarding Israel’s kowtowing to world opinion. From the BBC to the Obama administration to the EU, Israel remains the culprit no matter how many innocent Israelis bleed to death. And it makes it all that much harder, both intellectually and emotionally, for a Jew to deal with knife-wielding Arabs when the rest of the world is stabbing him in the back.

Nothing short of publicly recognizing the entire land of Israel as God-given and using that as a starting point will change the treacherous course in which Israel finds itself. Persisting with the fantasy of a two-state solution to placate world opinion only serves to diminish Israel’s position when that solution cannot be pursued, let alone implemented. And it perpetuates the “cycle of violence” the world loves to decry.

In an ironic twist, as Israel marked the twentieth anniversary of Prime Minister Rabin’s assassination a senior army source from Israel’s Home Front Command said he foresees Palestinian attacks continuing for a “lengthy period.”

The ugly truth about Muslim anti-Semitism and the world’s complicity in compelling Israel to negotiate with its enemies needs to be exposed rather than papered over. It is precisely this avoidance of reality that has laid the groundwork for Israel’s current crisis. (And insisting you’re prepared to surrender large swaths of land if only the right “peace partner” came along only kicks a spurious can down the road.)

Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to be inching toward this conclusion. Last week, when addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, he acknowledged he doesn’t want a binational state but added: “At this time we need to control all of the territory for the foreseeable future…. I’m asked if we will forever live by the sword – yes.”

However, a country can only live by the sword if its citizens believe in what that sword is protecting. When incitement by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Muslim clerics continues unabated, including calls by a Palestinian preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to “restore the Caliphate” and “annihilate the Jews,” Israelis need to double down on their claim to the Jewish homeland. Rather than pander to phony accusations regarding changes in the Temple Mount’s status quo, Israeli officials need to emphasize the Temple Mount’s historical Jewish significance. Especially in light of UNESCO’s declaration of Jewish holy sites as Muslim.

Publicly defending the sanctity of Jewish land will also bring about an end to the madness of Israeli policies that in fact are antithetical to ending the violence. Only a national leadership lacking patriotic pride would allow its country’s enemies to monetarily reward terrorists and their families, delay the demolition of terrorists’ homes, and return the bodies of dead terrorists. Only a government uncertain of the rightness of its cause would ask Israelis to be vigilant while at the same time announcing that vigilantes will be arrested.

It’s time for Israel to stop adjusting to a world bent on its destruction. And time for the world to adjust to Israel’s existence. Maybe then I won’t have to remind my daughter to take her pepper spray when she leaves home.


For more of Sara Lehmann’s writing, visit


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Sara Lehmann is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. Her column appears monthly. For more of her writing, visit


  1. No Jew has the right to yield the rights of the Jewish People in Israel –
    David Ben Gurion
    (David Ben-Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel and widely hailed as the State’s main founder).
    “No Jew is entitled to give up the right of establishing [i.e. settling] the Jewish Nation in all of the Land of Israel. No Jewish body has such power. Not even all the Jews alive today [i.e. the entire Jewish People] have the power to cede any part of the country or homeland whatsoever. This is a right vouchsafed or reserved for the Jewish Nation throughout all generations. This right cannot be lost or expropriated under any condition or circumstance. Even if at some particular time, there are those who declare that they are relinquishing this right, they have no power nor competence to deprive coming generations of this right. The Jewish nation is neither bound nor governed by such a waiver or renunciation. Our right to the whole of this country is valid, in force and endures forever. And until the Final Redemption has come, we will not budge from this historic right.”
    at the Basle Session of the 20th Zionist Congress at Zurich (1937)
    “No country in the world exists today by virtue of its ‘right’.
    All countries exist today by virtue of their ability to defend themselves against those who seek their destruction.”

  2. How many holidays do the Arabs celebrate due to historical events in the land of ancient Israel. The Jewish people celebrate most of their holidays and fast days in memory of and the goal and aspiration to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem – where it was before it was destroyed and desecrated by the enemies of the Jews. Many of the Jewish daily prayers for thousands of years recite the love of Israel and the Jewish aspirations to return to their ancestral land and bring back its glory and holiness. When Jews recite the blessings over bread, Jerusalem memory and aspirations is part of the blessing. During a Jewish wedding ceremony a dish is broken in memory of Jerusalem.
    In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.
    YJ Draiman

    Ben Gurion
    “Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its ‘right to exist.’ [As a Jewish State] Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement. . . .There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.”
    Abba Eban

  3. Arab terror and violence has nullified any agreements with Israel

    Israel should give a 90 day notice the UN and the world at large that it intends to exercise its historical and international rights under the international law and treaties post WWI which are still in effect and have not been superseded. Under those treaties all of Palestine is in effect belongs to Israel. Israel will no longer tolerate the deceptive term of occupation by Israel; it is internationally guaranteed Jewish land liberated by Israel. It is the Arabs who are the occupiers.
    YJ Draiman

    Supreme Muslim Council: Temple Mount is Jewish

    The widely-disseminated Arab claim that the Temple Mount isn't Jewish has been debunked – by the Supreme Muslim Council (Waqf), in a 1925 pamphlets

  4. What Is A True Jewish Leader?

    The Torah (The Old Testament – Jewish Bible) clearly expresses the true character traits necessary for leaders of the nation. It is not great rhetorical skills that helps a person succeed in leading "The Nation of Israel". The gift of self-expression is not a necessary component in the skill set of national leaders.

    A Jewish leader is one who is meant to represent the nation as a whole, externally and internally. Expressive ability is no more than an impressive external trait that occasionally has the power to cover an internal void. That is not what sets apart the leader of the Jewish nation. A Jewish leader must have the ability to withstand external pressures and protect his people and the Jewish nation at all times.

    The Jewish nation that appeared on the stage of history thousands of years ago did not begin as a nation with an impressive external appearance. On the contrary for long periods the Jewish people lacked military and political capabilities. However, since its inception, the Jewish nation has represented a huge world of moral, ethical and just values. Values which the entire world learned, some more and some less, and spread to cultures everywhere throughout the world .

    A leader of the Jewish nation is not meant to stand out as having an impressive external appearance but, rather, a significant internal appearance that also expresses the special characteristics of Jewish culture and humility. Moses (Moshe in Hebrew) was “heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue” yet he led the Jewish people out of Egypt following hundreds of years of slavery and oppression. Moses was the one who led the Jewish people during their exodus from Egypt and were attacked by various nations. Hence, the Jewish people had to learn how to defend themselves and thus, with the help of the almighty were victorious. The Jewish nation’s first leader Moses signaled to us by example with his presence and leadership, the correct path and the worthy considerations which should guide us as we choose our nation’s leadership.

    A true leader of Israel has to lead from a platform of absolute faith. He cannot be a politician, only. He has to embrace the history of the Jewish people and Israel. A leader of the Jewish nation has to understand what the Jewish people had to endure for thousands of years and still endure today to survive.

    A true leader must act from a foundation of humility and perseverance. Understanding the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people should be the foremost reason before any action is taken. The leader must lead by action and example — not by rhetoric.

    A faithful Jewish leader must be one who will not compromise Jewish values.

    A true leader has to have a vision, fortitude and determination to overcome internal and external obstacles!

    A true leader must stand relentlessly behind the defenders and supporters of Israel.

  5. Before Israel’s government forfeit Israel’s rights to the land and any other rights it must be put to a national vote.
    The Israeli government must not have the authority to relinquish Jewish land or other rights without a national vote by the people; this must be the law of the land. This also applies to any agreements or treaties that compromises and or promises that surrender Israel rights in any shape or form.

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