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One Israeli's View

One Israeli's View

Imagine that Mexico was calling for the destruction of the United States, backing it up with cross-border raids and missiles.


The great Yogi Berra once said, "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

I am not a columnist -- just an ordinary American citizen living in Israel -- but I have gained some insight into both cultures, some might say mentalities. Here is what many Israelis are feeling nowadays.

The first point concerns some unwritten American values I grew up with:

  • Problems are solvable.
  • Good will is returned in kind.
  • In general, favor the underdog over the top dog (unless you're the top dog).
  • If two sides are fighting, they must both have some justification.
  • Be reasonable; split the difference.

But what if you are living in a neighborhood where they are not quite as reasonable as you? Where your attempts to reason and split the difference backfire? Or worse, where concession is laughed at as weakness.

Unlike America's vast power, with oceans and peaceful neighbors on all sides, the Jewish state is surrounded on several sides with people who actually want to kill us.

The second point concerns Israel in particular. We are 6.6 million people, toughened but pragmatic. At 8,020 square miles, we have an area 25% smaller than Maryland. The difference is that, unlike America's vast power, with oceans and peaceful neighbors on all sides, the Jewish state is surrounded on several sides with people who actually want to kill us. Not subdue us -- but destroy our country.

It would be convenient to think that this must be because of something we did. But Hamas and Hezbollah say it out loud and crystal clear. The "occupation" is the whole works. Their final solution is the total destruction of Israel. Iran, a member state of the UN, holds conferences called "A World Without Israel."

This is the backdrop against which most civilized countries would have us turn the other cheek. As social writer Eric Hoffer once said, "We really do expect the Jews to be the only good Christians in the world."

To put things in perspective, imagine, if you can, that Arlington lobbed 1,000 shells at Georgetown. Or sent suicide bombers. How exactly would you react? Imagine that Mexico was calling for the destruction of the United States, backing it up with cross-border raids and missiles.

The third point is that Israel already withdrew from every last inch of southern Lebanon and Gaza, as the international community demanded. But the provocations and terror -- violence aimed intentionally against civilian targets -- continued. This is why we entered this conflict. Enough is enough.

This is a horrible situation to be in, fighting Hezbollah behind its human shields. But before bombing southern Lebanon and the Hezbollah neighborhoods of Beirut, Israel dropped leaflets encouraging evacuation. Confronted with terrible choices, we are trying to fight while minimizing civilian casualties.

It was wishful thinking to hope that joining the government would make Hamas and Hezbollah more responsible. Sometimes putting the bully in charge of the playground works, and sometimes it doesn't.

The operative emotion in Israel right now is sadness, sadness for what is being done to us, sadness for what we must do to defend ourselves. The missiles shot at Haifa landed a few miles from the research labs of Intel, IBM, Microsoft and Google. Israelis would much rather continue working on desalination, stroke treatment, and alternative fuels. We would rather that our adversaries developed their own economies pragmatically.

We hate this conflict, but we will not commit suicide. As Golda Meir said, "We will have peace when our enemies love their children more than they hate ours."

My father was a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and he was the most optimistic person I ever knew, but he once taught me, "Above all else, when someone threatens to kill you or your loved ones -- just believe him!"

The lesson for America is simple. Do not hide from international responsibility. Do not assume the oceans offer protection. Iran is behind Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and, of course, the insurgents in Iraq. If Iran gets nuclear bombs, do you want to bet they won't sponsor a radical Islamic group to eradicate American cities?

You want to know what Israelis are thinking? Theory and practice are intertwined. We are on the front line, but we will show patience and strength. That's why 89% of Israelis, Left, Right and Center, support the army right now. A mere 61 years and 10 weeks after V-E day, we know that evil and blind hatred exist. And that they can be beaten.

July 22, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 24

(24) Anonymous, October 20, 2010 6:29 PM

In my opinion the "palestinians" arabs don't want to destroy Israel the country. They want to destroy the israeli people in particular,and jews in general. and steal the beautiful country that the israelis built, Klara

(23) Seth, August 18, 2006 12:00 AM


I find it Ironic that you would use Mexico as an example, since like Israeli's whose land it used to be... the same can be said for hispanics. BUt it wouldn't be ok for them to come and bulldoze our homes, and take their land back would it?it's an endless cycle of retribution, everyone can defend what they want. Truth is truth.

(22) Laurie, July 28, 2006 12:00 AM

Amen to that!

We recently held a rally and gathered in Washington D.C. for one reason--to support Israel. Christians United for Israel had planned to do this before the war began. Interesting how God orchestrates things so people get object lessons too, eh? We gathered and told Congress we want Israel to be supported, that they Must stop telling you to partition your land, and that Iran CANNOT be allowed to become nuclear.

Thankfully, we had good reception from most of our legislators. We are praying for Israel, and for the innocent folks caught in the crossfire. Many citizens in the States wish we could do more--we completely agree. It is interesting that the ones who don't, are often uneducated in Israels history. they are also, not listening to the threats, which we know are more than threats. They are basically listening the same way they do when they say, "Hi. How are you?" They don't really want to know. At the talking points banquet where we met with other folks from our states and listened to comments from several Israelies and Jews, etc. one of the comments I made was," How much of your state are you willing to give up in order to create a Palestinian State?" "How many of your babies are you willing to have stolen before you think you'll go after the kidnappers with a gun?" So far, everyone I've asked has said they wouldn't put up with it.

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem, Israel and the safety of her citizens.

(21) Anonymous, July 27, 2006 12:00 AM

An American Jews viewpoint

I have just finished reading Bob Rosenschein's article entitled One Israeli's view and I must say that I agree with him completly. Unfortunately I am an ordinary individual who has no power. I have family who currently resides in Israel, and I have lived there myself on a couple occasions. The part that upsets me the most is the knowledge that the real people behind this really don't care about Israel oe Islam or anything else othet than themselves and making them richer. And they call us Imperialists. Who are these suicide bombers in reality? They are really just you poor underprivileged person who is forced to live in miserable conditions that would probably be so bad that even a Homeless person would reject it. Yet nobody wants to do anything about it. They come to America to learn from our Universities, they take away our jobs and we are the bad guys. They return to their country and spew hatred and violence. Who really suffers in the end, certainly not the leaders or the instigators but the poor individuals that can't see past their own desparation to understand what they are being asked to do. Give up their lives, their families, seeing their children grow up to be Adults for the promise of a better life in the hearafter and for their families left behind. Why can't they just take that same initiative and use it for their own betterment instead of foolishly sacrificing themselves for a promise that may or may not be kept. Which is better to extend to your neighbor and Olive Branch or a Sword?

(20) Nina, July 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Ive been to Izrael in 1998 and Ive been your supporter ever since. What I can't understand is why European mass-media gives such a biased, distorted view on this conflict. Listen to them and one will think (as most of my friends do think) that Izraelis are bloodthirsty invaders killing innocent Palestinian and Lebanon population. Not a word, ever, about dropping leaflets encouraging evacuation. Not a word about the actual objective of islamists - to wipe Izrael off from the face of the earth. What's the reason of this bias? What do they want to achieve by that?!! Looks like European governments don't understand there are new Hitlers emerging in Arab countries. By silent support of islamists the world community may make the Doomsday closer than we think. Please do something to make your voices heard by many until it's too late!

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