Laura E. Adkins

Fear itself

Israel must be allowed to respond swiftly and fully to entirely unjustified attacks on its civilian population

As the first rockets assailed Tel Aviv yesterday evening, I was on a crowded city bus on the way to a meeting. As the sirens wailed, we looked to the sky and saw a plume of smoke. “Ha kol beseder, everything is okay!” the IDF troops aboard the bus on their way home from base tried to reassure everyone.

A few hours later, as a friend and I were walking near Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, we again heard not sirens but the sound of a sailing missile, and felt the blast ring through the air as the Iron Dome once again did its job. As we passed by a café, we watched, horrified, as rockets landed in Jerusalem. This morning as I was getting ready to leave for work, I was once again sent scrambling to our apartment’s safe room.

All areas of Israel were targeted through the night, as the number of rockets launched from Gaza since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge reached more than 250. Aside from the rocket attacks, riots and attacks on IDF soldiers and Israeli police forces continue to escalate in Jerusalem and elsewhere. On the Temple Mount in Jerusalem last night, Muslims gathered to cheer as rockets sailed overhead.

Though no Israeli civilians have yet been killed or injured by this round of rockets, it is certainly not for lack of trying: “All Israelis have now become legitimate targets for the resistance,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri recently said.

Though usually reluctant to issue condemnation of any kind against the Palestinian regime, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that he “condemns the recent multiple rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza” and continued that “these indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas must stop.” The United States has also condemned Hamas’ actions, and stated unequivocally that “No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.”

The easiest reaction to the escalation and the first question on every American’s lips these days is, “aren’t you afraid?”

Yes, I am very afraid. I am afraid that these rockets will lull us into submission, will scare us into retreat. I am afraid that the international community will stand idly by as the rockets continue to fly from terrorist cells in Gaza. I am afraid that once the news reaches the United States and the rest of the West, the prevailing stories will attempt to turn this assault on millions of innocent civilians by terrorist groups into another tit-for-tat skirmish between the Israelis and Palestinians. I am afraid that the message that comes from this will be that Israel must exercise restraint instead of responding to entirely legitimate security challenges.

Israelis and Americans and the international community should not be afraid; they should be outraged.

In the oft quoted words of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address,

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Indeed, it is not only our fear that is irrational, but also the irrational that we fear.

This sort of fear tempts us to believe the lie that settlement activity might justify these rockets, which are being aimed not at settlements but at major Israeli cities that fall well within what even the anti-Israel camp admits Israel legitimately controls. Fear might tempt us to believe that Israel’s “subjugation of the Palestinian people” might justify the senseless terrorist acts of kidnapping and murdering our children.

These lies are tempting because they are fixable; Israel should simply end the settlement activity and cease its “apartheid,” and all will be well.

The truth, however, is simple but savage: this kind of senseless violence and targeting of millions of Israelis has no justification. These attacks are being committed for no other reason than to incite fear and cause as much violence and mayhem as possible. These attacks must be dealt with swiftly and comprehensively lest they fester and grow into something far more insidious.

As Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon reiterated this morning,

We are prepared for a campaign against Hamas, which will not end within days. Hamas is leading the current confrontation to a place in which it seeks to exact a heavy price from our home front.

“We will not tolerate missile and rocket fire on Israel, and we are prepared to expand the campaign through all of the means available to us, to continue striking Hamas,” he continued.

What exactly, you might ask, is Hamas demanding from us in return for ending the rocket attacks? That we release the convicted terrorists that were released in order to secure the return of prisoner of war Gilad Shalit and recaptured during Operation Brother’s Keeper. That’s right: terrorist cells in Gaza are bombing civilians in an attempt to secure the re-release of more terrorists.

So please, I urge you, don’t be afraid; be angry. Be outraged. Demand that the media bring the true story of what is going on to light. Demand that Israel be allowed to defend herself. Demand an end to the senseless violence.

As bombs continue to fly from Gaza and thousands of Israelis are deployed all over our country, the only hope we have for peace is not fear, but strength.

About the Author
Laura E. Adkins is JTA’s Opinion Editor. She was previously Deputy Opinion Editor at the Forward, where she wrote about data, Orthodoxy, kosher wine, and built interactive maps. Laura has also served as the editor of Jewish Insider and an assistant blogs editor at The Times of Israel. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, SELF, the New York Observer and elsewhere.
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