An Old Answer To An Old Problem

There is nothing new in the Arab assaults on Israeli road traffic and the horrific results that follow in its wake.  Indeed, our history is replete with massacres and murder on our roads from the first days of Zionist settlement on the land.

One of the reasons for the foundation of Jewish self defense in the homeland was specifically to protect Jews traveling on the roads between settlements and the newly sprung up towns, kibbutzim and moshavim. The first roving patrols of HaShomer (the Guardsman), mounted on horseback and armed with the Abu Hamsa (Father of Five rifle-named due to the 5 round magazine)  , was to clear the roads for the safe traffic of goods and people

During the period of the British Mandate, the occupying administration trained and armed uniformed Jewish  Police whose main mission was to secure the flow of traffic against Arab brigands and to protect both Jewish and British personnel from attacks on the roads and newly built highways. They patrolled the roads in armored cars and were trained in the use of light weapons. From the ranks of these police came many of the founders of the Haganah and Palmach. The late Moshe Dayan was one of these Jewish policemen.

Some of the bloodiest fighting between Jews and Arabs took place in the months preceding the declaration of independence in May, 1948. The tactic of the Arab bands that roamed freely throughout the territory in the Galilee, the Negev and the center of the country, often included “volunteers” from Lebanon, Syria and Trans-Jordan, was to destroy communication networks between Jewish areas and to cut off the flow of vital supplies from the coastal plain and Jezreel Valley to Jerusalem, where one-fifth of the Jewish population in the mandate lived.

Indeed the story of the “Battle of the Roads” to keep the one route from the coastal plain to Jerusalem open is one of the bloodiest chapters in the history of modern Israel. The struggle to maintain the traffic along the Sha”ar HaGai (Bab El Wad in Arabic-the Gate to the Valley) was fought with Palamch soldiers, riding in “armored” trucks which were covered with thin armor plate to stop bullets fired from Arab terrorists in the hills of Judea that overlooked the road. Many of the most horrific battles took place when convoys were stopped with roadblocks erected by the Arab brigands from the villages that overlooked the vital highway. When one takes that road today, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the remains of these shattered vehicles can be seen at points along the way, testifying to the bravery of the young men and women who risked their lives so Jerusalemites would not starve.

So, where is this leading? What is an answer to this savagery today? Hardly a day passed when another act of stone throwing vandals, or worse, barbarians throwing Molotov cocktails at passing trucks, taxis and buses. The worst is when some fiend opens fire on a civilian vehicle and kills innocent passengers, sometimes, even slaying babies in their savagery. Yes, there are those among us who would respond by having the security services open fire with real bullets (rubber, after all is made for tires) at the rock throwers-when they are around to respond.  Or, arm all Jewish travelers along the roads so they can shoot at their attackers which, is simply self defense. But how many of us are truly capable of killing another human being?

After all, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the safety of all its citizens wherever they are. But it would be impossible to have our police accompany every truck, bus or car on the roads all the time.

But there is one tactic that we can and should adopt whenever and wherever these attacks take place, especially if someone is murdered. A strategy that our Zionist founders employed in the past whose results can be seen today. Where Jews were killed, we built!

The town of Kiryat Sh’monah (the town of the Eight) was built in the memory of eight pioneers who were slain by terrorists. Gan HaShlosha (Garden of the the Three) , Zichron Ya’acov (Memory of Jacob) and kibbutizm and moshavim have been built specifically to memorialize those who were viciously attacked by our enemies.

Perhaps, we should adopt this policy anew, especially in Yehudah and Shomron.  For every act of terror on the roads, for every Jew murdered in a terror attack, we would  create a living testament to their sacrifice. Of course, we punish the evil doer severely and permanently, but we answer his outrage with reinforcing our connection with the land.

Israel was won by the sweat and tears of its pioneers, and sustained by the blood and agony of their children in war. Let us renew our sacred bound with our land by building upon it-street by street, house by house,  town by town. Answer our enemies with the rifle and the bulldozer. As we built the land with the plow and guarding the farmer in the field with the rifle, so must we, today, restore that spirit and act to defy those who deny our attachment and right to this, our land, our Eretz Israel.

There is no better strategy for defeating the terrorists than by constantly reminding them, and the world, that there is nothing they can ever do to force us to retreat from our purpose. That purpose which our pioneers dedicated their lives too, to build and to create a Jewish sovereign state that would restore our independence, renew our ancient traditions and reclaim all the land for the entire House of Israel.

We returned after 20 centuries of exile, dispersion, persecution and murder-for 2000 years our nation suffered the worst of degradation and despoilation. After the destruction of one third of our brothers and sisters by a world that had no place for them and a world that stood by and saw our children go up in the flames of Auschwitz, Treblinka and Chelmno, does the world and the terrorists really believe they can frighten us?

We came here, as the old Zionist adage says, “Livnot u’ L’hibanot”-“To Build and to be Rebuilt!” THAT must be an answer to the terrorist.


About the Author
Irwin was born in New York City and is now retired. He lives in Maaleh Adumim since making aliyah 7 years ago.