Sirens. A single piercing sound disrupts my work. And another. The cacophony of sound forces my attention away from the daily rush to get things done before the kids start coming home, turning my thoughts instead to worry about who’s on their way to where.
What happened? Who is it this time? How many? How badly injured? Judging from the sirens, the attacker hit his mark. Someone was stabbed. Or run over. Civilian? Or the ubiquitous term in our press these days for soldiers: ‘Israeli injured’? Wait, the sirens are fading. Only one ambulance siren joined by an army vehicle racing to the scene. Hmm. In my developing expertise, I find myself thanking God for what my ears perceive as a no-injury-terrorist-attack nearby.
Yes, welcome to the thought process we’ve become all too used to. It’s not normal to sit at your work desk and count the number and intensity of the sirens screaming to the local intersection. It’s not normal to move from fear to anger to apprehension and worry. First, a glance at the family whatsapp group to be sure all are safe and accounted for. Then, the sometimes-forgotten check in with the family, let them all know we are ok, no, none of us are hurt. But someone’s child is standing out there, someone’s loved one is the current target of hate and a large blade, or a car trying to ram them down while waiting for a bus.
In a movie, the next scene would be mothers packing up their children. The screen would show tears of goodbye, of people giving into reality and moving away, to somewhere safer where sirens more likely mean a birth, or perhaps a heart attack. The natural course of life. In Israel, we know that we don’t really have a safe escape, a sure-fire move to make to keep our kids untouchable. This is our country, this is our home – and all of it is under attack by those who’d rather we disappear.
But we’re not going anywhere. I do love my first hometown, place of my birth, of our beloved Browns, Pavilion ice skating, Saturday night pizza – friends and family. Yet now I’m here – in our natural home, letting our children know this is their birthright, this is their only true home. Our ancient Hebrew is revived as their mother tongue. Our footsteps follow those of our forefathers. We live a life with less dissonance, I think, than those I love back in the US. This is where we belong and there’s no real place to run. Let alone truly love.
Last summer’s war in Gaza drove Israel’s central populations to seek daily shelter. Tel Aviv was under attack – who could have imagined? (There were those responsible political leaders who warned of this but who wants to listen to a despondent prophecy.)
The so-called centre of the country, bustling Tel Aviv, joined our southerners by spending their days in bomb shelters. Life was disrupted, and threatened, while children are still battling nightmares and panic attacks. We hill people were not so involved – a random missile approached our heights but we were the area that people sought for shelter and peace of mind. The hills of Judea, the paths of Samaria – the safe place to be while Gazan Arab terrorists attacked the Jewish people.
Now we join the rest. We are all Tel Aviv. From Netanya to Raanana, Israel’s central coast populations are getting to know the sirens. People normally engrossed in texting their friends have cell phones tucked away and eyes in the back of their heads, warily scanning the crowds and creating alliances with the ‘safe’ co-travelers around them. Jerusalem and Gush Etzion are no different. The seeds of hate have no borders except those that encompass Jews living in their sovereign state of Israel. Our enemies won’t be satisfied til we pack up and leave.
Barring that, our option is to take precautions, even seemingly silly ones (just ask my kids how often they have to check in!), pray to be kept safe and know we are in the right place. Meanwhile, the rest of the world might just consider doing the right thing: pressure the bad guys. Hold the PA leadership accountable for what they teach their kids. For financing terror. And for encouraging hate rather than meeting our Western expectations of seeing people as people, conflicted or otherwise. Your ‘even-handedness’ is a nice American term to feel good about people. Your call on both sides to lessen the violence only fans the flames.
And second, react real-time by bulldozing the homes of the terrorists. After the ambulance screams in to evacuate the wounded Jews, let the bulldozers drive straight at the homes of these terrorists, their mothers, their wives and children. Let’s see how long those women let their men bring a price upon their own heads.
It’s time to step up, notice the sirens, and make someone accountable. The PLO-led Palestinian Authority continues to foment hate and until they are stopped, my kids are still legitimate targets in their eyes.
Western ‘even-handedness’ helped Iran regain power as a leader in the region. And now the same attitude encourages hate and murder of our families. This is not a cycle of violence, it is a one-sided attempt to kill Jews so that we give up and leave our homeland – all of it.
Step up now so the sirens can fade away and we can live in the peace that we teach our own children.
Disclaimer: This was written before the recent escalation of what some like to pretend is a ‘cycle of violence,’ in which an Arab terrorist opened fire on innocent Jewish residents of Alon Shvut and others, sitting in traffic on a sunny afternoon in our neighborhood. Yaacov Don and Ezra Schwartz lost their lives in this hateful, meaningless bloodbath and our communities will never be the same. May their memories be blessed.
Yet this morning, again, it is aptly relevant.