Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Israel, not Gaza, is under siege

Ruthie Blum

On Monday morning, I met with the editor of a New York newspaper.‎
‎"Isn't it hard being away from Israel right now, with all that's going on?" he asked, ‎referring to Thursday night's abduction of three teenagers -- Naftali ‎Frenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 -- who were on their way home for the weekend from yeshivas ‎they attend in Gush Etzion and Hebron.‎
"Yes," I said. "But there is always something critical happening there."‎
Indeed, I have yet to visit my family in the United States without either leaving behind, ‎or greeting upon my arrival, a worrisome event that is dominating the news in Israel. And ‎my first response, like that of all Israeli parents, is to locate each of my children to make ‎sure they are safe, or to find out whether they have been called up for reserve duty.‎

This is not simply a function of Jewish motherhood, however. It is not due to hysteria ‎over the ills that might befall our offspring. No, this is not how we Israelis live at all. If ‎anything, we are experts at compartmentalizing danger, clucking our tongues at existential ‎crises, while fretting over grocery shopping and bad-hair days.‎
Until something horrific happens to snap us out of our stupor, that is. Like the kidnapping ‎of "our" boys at the hands of bloodthirsty terrorists. It is then that we turn off the soccer ‎matches on TV and gather together to cry with and pray for the victimized families, fully ‎aware that they could be us, that the only thing differentiating them from us is an ‎accident of fate.‎
It is during such moments that reality hits home, yet again: Israel is under enemy attack, ‎as it has been since its inception.‎
This fact is continually obfuscated, however, both unwittingly and on purpose. The ‎former is understandable. Israeli democracy is among the most vibrant and successful in ‎the world. In spite of glitches that would be called "growing pains" in any ‎other fledgling state established a mere 66 years ago, it has a viable economy, a passable ‎education system, reasonable health care, a vigilant legal system, a free press, and ‎attention to social justice. It absorbs massive amounts of legal immigrants, and contends, ‎as humanely as possible, with the illegal ones.‎
Moreover, it is acknowledged globally as the "startup nation," and has produced Nobel ‎Prize winners, international supermodels, beauty queens, movie stars, artists and ‎filmmakers. ‎
As a result, it does not have the general feel of an embattled country. And even well-‎informed well-wishers, whether citizens or visitors, are capable of temporarily forgetting ‎that Israel is fighting an ongoing defensive war for its survival.‎
For detractors, on the other hand, the miraculous nature of Israeli society provides a ‎different kind of opportunity altogether, one that serves to "prove" that the Jewish ‎state is flourishing at the expense of the Arabs living under Palestinian Authority rule in ‎Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and under Hamas in Gaza.‎
It is as irrelevant to these detractors as it is to the Arabs whose propaganda they promote ‎that their positions have been refuted repeatedly. It is of no interest to them that the ‎premise on which they base their hostility -- that the Israeli "occupation" of territories it ‎acquired in the Six-Day War of 1967 is the source of the Palestinian plight and the cause of ‎Palestinian terrorism -- is a complete and utter lie. ‎
All one has to do is peruse the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas charters, ‎view the content of the PA-controlled newspapers and television and witness the ‎behavior of what has just become a unity PA-Hamas government to realize that the ‎express goal of the Palestinian leadership (if not the majority of the people) is the ‎annihilation of the Jewish state.‎
This has not prevented incessant peace overtures on the part of each and every Israeli ‎government, which have included settlement freezes, territorial withdrawals, prisoner ‎releases and hefty financial and other forms of aid, compounded exponentially by the ‎international community.‎
The most recent of such endeavors began with American pressure, continued with Israeli ‎concessions and ended, as always, with Palestinian violence, culminating in the ‎kidnapping of three innocent boys.‎
Their poor parents are forced to endure an unimaginable nightmare: not knowing whether ‎their sons are dead, yet bemoaning what they must be going through if they are alive.‎
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has no sympathy for the boys or their parents. He is too ‎busy blaming Israel for arresting suspects and retaliating against ongoing barrages of ‎missile fire from Gaza.‎
In a statement released to the PA news agency WAFA on Monday, Abbas "condemned ‎the latest escalations in the West Bank, including the kidnapping of three Israeli settlers ‎and the ongoing series of violations by Israeli soldiers and settlers against innocent ‎Palestinian civilians and against prisoners held in Israeli jails."‎
Abbas' vile words came four days after the abduction of the teens, but only a single day ‎after his wife, Amina, was released from her private room at the Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv. It was there that she was sent by her Israel-hating husband to have knee ‎surgery performed by Israeli doctors. She was admitted to the hospital on Friday ‎morning, when news of the previous night's kidnappings broke.‎
It is this story that should have made the headlines in New York, alongside reportage of ‎the Palestinian terrorist abduction of three young Jews. Not that it would have made any ‎difference to Israel's enemies. But it would serve as a reminder to Israel's friends that it ‎needs and deserves all the support -- and love -- it can get.‎
Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab ‎Spring.'"‎

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