A viewpoint of an Israeli academic
A response to the article in the UK Guardian written by Peter Beaumont
With all due respect, I bet Mr. Beaumont has never experienced a real threat to his life, let alone from Arab or Islamic terrorism. As an Israeli – in Haifa, in the North – I have. Back in 2002 bombs exploded on the bus on the Moria Blvd. which my children used to board to go to the Reali school (fortunately they were not on that bus (the learned Mr. Beaumont would say “what’s the problem the statistical odds are low” aren’t they), and then the restaurants Maxim and Matza which we sometimes frequented were in turn blown to pieces, incurring about two dozen dead each.
Back then I wondered every day when my wife would go out shopping and my kids would go to school, if they were to return, but this is beyond the empathy of callous people. Operation Defensive Shield put an end to the homicide bombing terror. That Israeli action was deemed useless by Beaumont, but it might have saved our insignificant lives.
Three years ago we personally experienced ballistic terror during the Lebanon war, for a few weeks, when the other terrorist organization (Hizballa), the one based in Lebanon continually fired missiles at our city, so we know what the people in the south are now going through. Due to electro-optic detection there was early warning (in Haifa it was about 40 seconds), so we knew that the missiles were coming – it was horrible to run to the shelter in those forty seconds, and then lock the door and start counting down (as if waiting for a torpedo to hit or miss in a submarine, if you saw one of these movies), wondering if the incoming missile is destined to fall onto our head and wipe out our family or or not. Then you hear the boom, and the shelter (a concrete fortified room in our home, which would not sustain a direct hit, but might protect from an indirect hit – or so we hoped) vibrates from the landing of the missile if it is close by. But Beaumont would not blink under the circumstances, would he?
Now it is the turn of the south of our country, more than half a million of our fellow citizens, who are precisely under this kind of attack. Realize that although statistically the chance of being hit is low,still hundreds of thousands of Israelis lives have become unbearable, and all these people, whole cities, are being psychologically wounded. In fact a whole generation of young Israeli children, living around Gaza have grown deranged psychologically, suffering from nightmares, fears, and attention deficit disorders, as they have grown with this existential threat since they were born.
Who remembers that the world hailed when Israel retreated from Gaza 3 years ago? Gaza was about to become the Singapore of the Mid East as the wealthy Arab states were preparing to pour heaps of money into it, but then Hamas took over (which we owe to Bush’s insistence on “democracy”) and threw it into a dark age of Islamic extremism.
Israel said back then when it pulled out Gaza: “We dismantled our settlements in Gaza – we are out – but if you shoot at us from the area we vacated, we shall hit back with all our might” but never made true on its promise – until now.
The Israelis have no choice. They have been under attack almost every single day since they pulled out of Gaza in 2005. Innocent people have been maimed and killed, terrorized, their lives disrupted, day after day, month after month, year after year women, children, civilians. The Israelis finally said – enough is enough, but prior to that they tried one last ceasefire, which as you know, lasted a few months, the number of rockets went down to single digit (thats considered a ceasefire in this area) but about three weeks ago Hamas put an end to it and started sending 40-80 rockets a day into Israel.
We are appalled by people who say well, the response is not proportional. The fight against terrorism is not a game played by gallant rules. This is a government defending its citizens and I can tell you that if someone attacked the people of Britain would you not expect your government to send in the same number of troops as the number of those who attacked, but wed send in all the resources necessary to protect us and our fellow citizens, and that is exactly what Israel is doing. In fact, what are you doing in Afghanistan 5000 Km, not 5km away? acting on an imaginary threat?
President elect Obama said it correctly after visiting the Israeli town of Sderot that if his two daughters were there and were being attacked hed would use all the resources at his command to protect them. Would Beaumont expect the same for his daughters? Would he expect that the British government protect them?.
This is a clear case of terrorism, you saw that they attacked in Mombai, they attacked in Bali, AlQaida struck New-York City twice. If the terrorists win in Gaza they will be emboldened to attack even harder everywhere else. And if they do in Britain – let’s hope they don’t – maybe Beaumont would display a spark of empathy.