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Staying the Course

Staying the Course

A leading Jewish journalist views the Mideast conflict from other side of the Atlantic.


Courtesy of the Jewish Week (

When I read a report the other day that Israeli intelligence experts are preparing for several more years of Palestinian warfare, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. I can only imagine how Israelis reacted to the prospect that they and their families may be targeted for murder on a daily basis for years to come. How do you live a normal life in the face of ongoing terror? How do you find the strength to go on without at least the hope of peace with your neighbors?

It's beyond depressing, it's demoralizing. And that is precisely the goal of the Palestinians, who seek to destroy Israel, not militarily, but psychologically, by weakening the resolve of the Jewish state. The question, dare it be asked, is whether they are succeeding.

The Palestinians are banking on the belief that Israelis cannot withstand shooting attacks and suicide bombers for an extended period of time. They were heartened by Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, seeing the move as a defeat for the Israeli Army and a national sign of weakness that proved Israelis will retreat for the prospect of reduced violence.

Palestinians seek to destroy Israel, not militarily, but psychologically, by weakening Jewish resolve.

Palestinians look back on the first intifada, which began in late 1987 and lasted several years, with great pride, a time when they received international recognition and empathy for taking on the proud Israeli army with little more than rocks and stones.

Israelis may see things differently, noting that the intifada dissipated when the Palestinians could no longer carry on the street fighting, and that the violent venting led to the Madrid talks, the beginning of the peace process, as Arab and Israeli representatives sat down together to negotiate an end to the state of war.

Of course the peace process has been shattered and it should be noted that the primary weapons for young Palestinians at the time of the first intifada were stones; today, thanks to the Oslo Accords, tens of thousands of “policemen” (read soldiers) have been armed with weapons, and they are far more organized now, through the Palestinian Authority.

Israelis as a whole, from Prime Minister Sharon to the embattled residents of the communities in Judea and Samaria, have shown remarkable restraint and courage in the face of bloodthirsty behavior on the part of the Palestinians. The army, which has targeted the leaders and masterminds of the killing rather than civilians, and the security and intelligence officials who have been able to thwart countless would-be suicide bombers, deserve high praise.

But there is reason to worry that the younger generation of Israelis does not have the passionate sense of Jewish history, national mission and Zionist commitment that its parents and grandparents had. Do younger Israelis lack the faith of their fathers? Some see Israelis in their 20s as the soft underbelly of Israeli society, raised in relative prosperity and lacking the moral discipline, Jewish education and concept of heritage of their forbears.

Some see young Israelis as the soft underbelly, raised in prosperity and lacking moral discipline and Jewish education.

At a time when post-Zionist ideology suggests that Jews feel guilt for past wars with the Arabs and when most of society is decidedly secular, discounting any covenant between God and the Jews focused on the land of Israel, it is not difficult to see why young Israelis could lose their resolve when faced with a seemingly endless struggle with the Arab world.

Palestinians are counting on Israelis to act as spoiled, guilt-ridden interlopers, preferring to lay down their arms rather than their computers. But the Palestinians are overplaying their hand. First, leaving Lebanon is not at all the same for Israelis as abandoning their own land. And Yasser Arafat has galvanized the Jewish population like no Israeli leader ever has.

The Palestinians have lost their façade of reasonableness these last 11 months, if not before, celebrating the deaths of innocent Jews far from any battlefield, sending their own youngsters to the frontlines, and praising as heroes those who believe they will receive eternal gratitude, here and in heaven, for taking the lives of Jewish children. That is too much hatred for Israelis to ignore.

It is too much hatred for Israelis to ignore.

The next stage of the conflict is unclear. Ariel Sharon may indeed be preparing the quick, harsh military response an increasing number of Israelis are calling for, a multi-pronged battle intended to end the armed threat from the Palestinians and perhaps send Arafat packing. And there is more talk every day of a unilateral move on Israel's part to determine her own boundaries, giving up about 20 percent of the Jewish settlements, and hunkering down in a protective mode until such time, if ever, that the Palestinians choose to negotiate a real peace.

Then again, the government in Jerusalem may be preparing to ride the intifada out for fear of widening the scale of the conflict.

Whichever scenario comes to pass will require great inner strength, resolve and dedication on the part of Israelis, who must believe in the rightness of their actions to give meaning to the inevitable sacrifices that will be required. And we must show them every means of support possible. It is, truly, the least we can do.

August 25, 2001

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 4

(4) , September 10, 2001 12:00 AM

My profound admiration and respect for all the work that goes on daily supported by AISH and other organizations. Please inform me of the Senate Bill to Protect theTemple Mount from further destruction,Where may I write?
Thank You
Alan Malki

(3) Dicky van Gelderen, August 29, 2001 12:00 AM

Gary Rosenblatt

Now we are at a point of no return and must show strength, but what lead us to this if not the constant settlements of the occupied territories, taking place even during the various peacetalks in the the past? Who would not like to see a compact Israel without the narrow strip of 4KM between the West-Bank and the Mediterranean? Had G.D so willed it we would. But Israel was given us through international consensus and was not brought about by the Redeemer, otherwise we would have the big, compact Eretz Israel we dream of and include in our daily prayers.

(2) Anonymous, August 28, 2001 12:00 AM

I have read with deep interest your fine article. I have an equally deep response to your thoughts and comments regarding the commitment of the youth to the struggle.

Having visited your wonderful country this April we came away with a sense of awe at the way Our Creator has kept His people Israel and has brought them back to the covenant land. But we were taken back by the seeming lack of real faith in the general public of Israel. We could not understand how most could not see the direct intervening hand of God in the continued existence of His people who are so small in number and resources. Surely they would recognize that it must be a supernatural provision that enables them to continue to exist at all!

Sadly, I have to wonder with you if most have not been taken by slumber and ease and do not have the heart for the struggle,the heart that bears all because of faith in the promises of God. Most people today are caught up in feeling guilty for having an opinion. If you have a strong opinion, let alone deep faith, you are the subject of hostility and are looked upon as not very bright and hopelessly behind the times. No one wants to be in that position today because it takes real courage to go against the grain and it is not even possible if you do not have strong faith.

Most of your people have suffered so greatly by being singled out by God to carry His message of the knowledge of Himself to a lost world that they no longer have the stomach for it because they have closed themselves off from knowledge of the One who made these promises so that they will not have to answer to Him. They think this in desperate ignorance I believe, just as most people refuse to acknowledge Him for the same reason.

Only God can help Israel and He will not fail to do it when the time of crying out to Him is accomplished. When Israel wants HIS INTERVENTION and is willing to accept His plan He will come to her aid again. DO NOT LOSE HOPE!!! He will not abandon His people forever.
He will come. Cry out for HIM. Lead your young people to study His word. They will find Him.

Your friend,Sue

(1) Debra Anne Youngmann, August 27, 2001 12:00 AM

From the Other Side of the Atlantic

Dear Friends,

Do not pay attention to the liberal media. They do not portray the opinion of the majority of Americans.

Please know that as long as there are Christians in America, that we will never abandon you--we both pray to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--we share common spiritual roots. It is those roots which bind us together.

Our President Bush is a true Christian man. Don't believe his edited comments on the news are all that he has said. He knows that we have a spiritual responsibility before G-d to stand with the Israeli people.

He does not believe that we must rely on Arab nations for oil--we have plenty of untapped resources of our own. He is a Texan and Texans always 'play their cards', so to speak, close to their vests. They speak softly because they know they can back up what they say with action when the time is right.

Our Congressional representatives, while they may differ on many issues, are united in support of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. My Congressman is Rep. Henry Hyde, the Chairman of Internaional Relations in the House of Representatives. He, too, is a good Christian man, and has stated emphatically that America is on Israel's side--even if we don't always agree with everything that Israel does.

It has not escaped our notice that most often when we see an Israeli flag being burned, there is an American flag right along side of it being burned also.

So, don't believe all you hear from the 'talking heads' on the TV, we don't. They have backed the wrong horse, the PLO, and don't know how to undo their mistake.

You are continually in our prayers.


Debra Anne Youngmann

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