Sunday, October 30, 2005
A point that, unfortunately, needs to be made every so often... because well-meaning, otherwise intelligent people seem to keep forgetting it.
Even today, as the victims of the Hadera bombing are buried, Israel's government is sure to be criticized for the way it protects its citizens. It will doubtlessly be told that it brought this tragedy upon itself, and that it must assume a passive posture if it is to avoid further bloodshed.Israel has been told, every single day for decades, how she should respond to terror. The advice nearly always comes from people and countries that don't have to worry every day about terror attacks (or, worse, from people and countries that condone or support such terror attacks).
We have heard this all before, on countless occasions.
At times like this, there is always a chorus that pops up to lecture our leaders with the kind of advice that has proven, time and again, to be fatal. First they mourn the "regrettable loss of life" and bemoan the fact that "calm has been shattered." Then comes the familiar call for Israeli restraint, as if such restraint will prevent, rather than invite, the next attack.
You don't need a doctorate in psychology to understand that Israelis get very, very tired of this.
Israel has done what no other country on Earth has done. She has built a thriving, vibrant democracy out of nothing; she has, quite literally, made the desert bloom. (Read Mark Twain's description of the Holy Land in "The Innocents Abroad", only 150 years ago; the entire area was a desolate wasteland then. Contrast that to the Jerusalem Forest, where six million trees now flourish.) She has gathered in refugees from the remotest corners of the Earth, from the survivors of Nazi Germany to the hundreds of thousands of Jews forcibly ejected from Arab countries in the 1950s, from the entire besieged Ethiopian Jewish community to over one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union during the early 1990s (raising Israel's population from five million to six million in just a few years). She has produced thriving industries that are the envy of the Western world, and is one of the top R&D centers for hi-tech industry worldwide.
And she has extended her hand in friendship to her neighbors, time and time again, only to be spat upon and told she had no right to exist at all. Out of necessity, Israel built up a modern army that could defeat an enemy several times its own size -- and proceeded to do just that in 1948, again in 1956, again in 1967, again in 1973, and over and over in minor skirmishes ever since.
Faced with the impossible situation of governing a hostile population, that no one else in the entire Middle East was willing to help in the slightest way, Israel did her best, building hospitals and universities and roads and infrastructure. When terrorism became a regular problem, then a daily problem, Israel pioneered techniques of pinpoint attacks, going after terrorist leaders while missing the human shields all around them... and got accused of non-existent massacres for her trouble.
Today Israel must deal with daily terrorist threats. (Yes, I said daily. We hear in the news only about the terror attacks that were successful; but the IDF, and the Israel Foreign Ministry, document dozens of foiled attacks per week, every week.) Every day, somebody, somewhere, calls for Israel's utter destruction; lately such calls have been coming from heads of state. And even Israel's friends keep telling her that, faced with an enemy determined to kill as many innocent pizza-eaters and discotheque-dancers as possible, Israel is somehow not offering the murderers enough concessions.
As the Jerusalem Post editorial ably puts it, spare us the lectures. Nobody understands terror better than Israel does, for nobody has had to face it more, over the entire six decades of the country's existence.
Israel has not asked for anyone's help in dealing with the terror. She is quite willing, and quite able, to handle it on her own. In the face of unceasing international criticism, worse than that experienced by any other nation on Earth, Israel has shown more patience than most of us could imagine.
Spare us the lectures. Israel has behaved more humanely, under more trying circumstances, than any nation in history. Let Israel do what she must.