Photo Credit: Flash90

I have to admit something – I was a big supporter of the Gaza withdrawal. The death toll there before the withdrawal was horrific; there was no significant way of really improving security for the settlers there, so the obvious conclusion was to get them out. While it is true that Operation Cast Lead was a blood bath, the following years seem to prove that leaving was the thing to do. The tunnels were destroyed. In addition, Israel deployed Kipat Barzel (Iron Dome), which basically neutralized Hamas’s main weapon.

In fact, it seemed that the following rounds of fighting became something of a game: Hamas would shoot massive numbers of missiles at Israel, we’d knock them down with few casualties, while the IDF Air Force pounded Gaza. Yes, there was economic damage, yes the people in southern Israel suffered psychologically, mentally, economically, but we didn’t die. In fact, the rounds of fighting seemed to come at regular intervals. Every couple of years Hamas or the Jihad would start something, the shooting went on for a few days, and then there would be a cease-fire. PM Netanyahu and the IDF Spokesman would show us the graphs about how many times the IDF attacked, how many buildings were destroyed, how many terrorists were killed; rinse and repeat.


It was as if there was a “Gaza pressure valve” that had to be released. Let off some steam, go back to normal, and most importantly ignore what was going on in Gaza. That working model came crashing down on our heads last Shabbat. Again, just like in 1973 and just like in 2006, we assumed that the Arabs saw the world the way we see the world. Again, we had a “conceptiza” about what was going on and didn’t bother to check to see if our assumptions held water or if there was evidence to the contrary.

If there is one thing that I can take comfort in, it is that the Arabs misunderstand us just as badly as we misunderstand them. If they thought that surprising Israel would bring us to our knees, then maybe they should have checked with Nassrallah about that assumption. These last three days have been nothing but a horror. Already, I have been informed of people in my circles who lost family. Family members are fighting as I type. My synagogue is 2/3 empty because so many men were called up for IDF combat duty. (Yes, I am proud to be part of that community.) The stories about what happened the first day are slowly coming out. I try to avoid the videos but the stories filter through.

However the simple number of murdered people – 900 (as of when I am writing this) and most of them were civilians – is beyond overwhelming. What is going to be required to correct Shabbat’s horrible failure makes me feel ill when I think about it. How many good men and women will die to do what must be done – wipe out that evil enemy.

There is no issue about employment or standard of living or open air prison or any of that nonsense. Anyone who brings up that “narrative” is simply excusing murder. Gaza could have obtained huge gains in all of those issues and more had their leadership made the simple decision to care about their citizens’ lives. But they don’t care and this all-out war will be the result of our blindness to their evil (and our arrogance in underestimating the Gazans’ blood lust).

One last personal note: I see American Jews wanting to help. Yes, you can send money, learn Torah, pray, and do mitzvot. All of that is critically important. But in addition – just show Israel your support and the best way to do that is to contact your Israeli family and friends, both real life friends and your social media friends. Tell them that you care, that you have our backs. It means a lot.


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Ben Waxman, a “hi-tech guy,” has been living in Israel with his family for 35 years.