It is a quest of mine. I want people who live outside of the Middle East to understand what it is like to live in a country where you know that mortars will fall every day, stones will be thrown, bullets will be shot, buses will be attacked, cafes will be targeted, and worst of all, people will be murdered.

Clarity often comes from distance. Back away from something and somehow it becomes more clear. Two years ago, one of my cyberspace friends asked me the simplest of questions: “How can one group of mothers anguish over the thought that their children might be killed, while another group applauds their children for doing the killing?” I was amazed that someone outside of Israel was baffled by the same mystery that continues to plague our society today.

Most days, something hits somewhere. Some days, too much hits anywhere and on the worst of days, a suicide bomber makes it through. Every day, I listen to the news, click around to see what is happening. Today, as the bus that my son often rides was stoned, something clicked and I sent a note to one of my e-mail groups detailing what had transpired in Israel in a 24 hour period.

A passenger on a bus was lightly injured. Soldiers in Balata were targeted. Several border police officers were injured. IDF troops were targeted by terrorist gunfire. An explosive device was discovered. And on it went.

I posted the list of these attacks because I thought it summed up our lives here. Another Israeli added that we were lucky, as this “short” list meant that it had been a relatively quiet day.

Then, someone sent a message that surprised me. “Virtually all of these reports were written in the passive — I find it interesting because it appears as though there’s a consistent effort to avoid assigning blame.”

Interesting, he thought. Interesting, I agree. 

“They were all written in the passive voice. For example, “Soldiers…were targeted in a shooting attack” as opposed to (what would likely appear in American media) “Terrorists targeted soldiers in a shooting attack,” ” he wrote.

Why do Israeli journalists write in the passive tense? Worse, why do we Israelis think that way? We know who is to blame. After more than three years of violence, it is clear to anyone willing to see. A few years ago, when it was clear that the Palestinians had Kassem2 rockets, a leading Member of Knesset said that if the Arabs dared to fire them at Israel, it would mean war. Today, almost daily, we are attacked by rockets fired at Israelis. They fall in our cities, in our open fields, and even near our schools.

Our buses are attacked, and we bulldoze empty buildings. We have lost more than 950 Israelis in the last three years, roughly the equivalent of 55,000 Americans. On September 11, almost 3,000 people were murdered, and America declared war.

Israel has never been a nation of cowards, and yet we cannot even write the news properly. It is wrong to say that we were attacked, stoned, bombed, shot. We must place the blame where it belongs — on those who attack, those who stone and bomb and shoot.

Today, as happens almost every day, Palestinians stoned a bus. Palestinians shot at troops. Palestinians planted a bomb. The sooner we understand that the world does not understand our hesitation, our passivity, the sooner, perhaps, the world will force it to end. 

Palestinians grab the world’s attention. They scream to all that can hear, that the security fence is preventing them from reaching 70 percent f their land. Lies, lies, lies. At least 80 percent of the West Bank will remain in Palestinian hands if the fence is built according to the current plan.

A bomb on a Jerusalem bus kills eight Israelis. The government is passive. In less than three hours, the street has been cleaned, the bus removed. Families of the victims are in a race to find their loved ones, frantically searching, but the majority of Israelis have already begun to internalize what has happened.

Beyond those first horrible moments, while we imagine the worst for our loved ones and quickly telephone everyone who we think might have been anywhere near the explosion, normalcy creeps back into our lives. Passivity returns. Not even a military response. Nothing but a few words. The news reports that a bus was attacked. A bus was destroyed. Dozens were injured, eight were killed.

A Palestinian suicide bomber attacked a bus. A terrorist destroyed a bus. A Palestinian member of Arafat’s al-Aqsa Brigade murdered eight and wounded dozens. It is time for us to stop being passive, time to place the blame where it belongs. Time to stop accepting that mortars will fall each day, stones will be thrown, bullets will be shot. It is time to act and time to stop the actions of others.

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Paula R. Stern is the co-founder of Retraining4Israel (, a new organization working to help olim make aliyah successful. Paula made aliyah over 30 years ago with her husband and their three children. She lives in Maale Adumim and is often referred to as “A Soldier’s Mother”. She is now a happy wife, mother of five (including two sabras), and grandmother, happily sharing her voice and opinions with others. She is also a senior tech writer and lead training instructor at WritePoint Ltd. ( Please visit her new website: