Paula R. Stern

No to Cease Fire

“As a mother of three…oh, sorry…of five…you support a ceasefire don’t you?”

So asked the BBC interviewer Friday afternoon in a prerecorded interview that I was told would be non-political. They said they wanted to know what it was like for Israelis to live under the fire of rockets. One question about that – and then two more. The one above and the one asking me to explain how more than 100 Palestinians have been killed while no Israelis have died. Non-political? Yeah…

Do I support a ceasefire…as a mother? How very insulting to men that question is. Don’t men want peace? Aren’t they equally worried about not only their children but the children of their enemies? In the world of BBC, apparently not.

And so I answered. I want peace, total, absolute peace. For us and for them. I want their children raised with hope and love and respect for life. I don’t want their children raised to hate, raised to think it is holy and good to commit suicide if that involves murdering as many innocents as possible. And I think it important that their children not internalized the clear message that an Arab’s value is about 1/1000th of a Jew’s life. How sad a concept that should be for them – that the life of one Jew is worth over 1000 Arabs. How precious is our blood, Israel; how great we elevate the value of a single Jew (even if he has a stupid father and his self-aggrandized dream of a political future).

No, I don’t want a ceasefire that will mean yet another operation with a different name in a year or two or three if we are lucky. Finally, we have to say – we have suffered over 1,000 rockets and had our children terrorized for 7 days…for what? To agree to some Kerry-inspired drivel that will see us back here yet one more time?

In December, 2008, Israel took my son and sent him to war. He did things, learned things, saw things that I never imagined he would. He lives with what was done with pride because he accepts it had to be done but not with joy. He did not enjoy the war; he did not want to do what he had to do, what the government and people of Israel needed him to do.

Even today, as we talk about it, he lowers his voice. Not out of shame, but perhaps there is regret that we live in a world and fight a society that leaves us no choice. War is not the desired option. But neither is a misguided ceasefire that will simply give them an opportunity to replenish the 1,000+ rockets they have fired at us and the arsenals we have managed to destroy in the last few days, by air, by sea, by ground.

As a mother, I told BBC, I want a solution that will stop the rockets forever. Don’t speak of a ceasefire, speak of peace.

And don’t speak to me of numbers because numbers are not stories. Numbers don’t factor in truth – the truth that we put our children in bomb shelters while they put their leaders in bunkers. The truth that our missions target military installations while their missiles target civilians, the more, the better.

The truth that even the most secular Israelis realize that the numbers represent miracles. A family leaving their home only to hear that a day later a missile crashed into the bedroom of their two small children; a teacher taking her class inside only to learn that a missile crashed into the school yard where they had just stood. A family emerging from their bomb shelter to see that their home has been destroyed, but they are fine. It’s hard to believe that there remains an empty field in Israel that the Palestinians have not hit.

Anyone who has an inkling of Israeli society and what we hold most precious has to know that we value life above nearly everything. This is a Jewish value – Pikuach Nefesh – break all the many laws we have, except three. You cannot kill an innocent to save your life; you cannot deny God because in the belief of His essence is the essence of the people of Israel; and you cannot be forced to indulge in forbidden relationships that contradict the most basic tenets of our humanity. Better to die than to forsake that which sets us above animals.

In Star Trek terminology – the prime directive in Judaism (and in Israel) is life.

A ceasefire is a contradiction to life. It says that we choose to live today  without consideration of tomorrow. It says that now that we have pushed Hamas back and are pounding away at their infrastructure (yet again), we will, yet again, stop and allow them to regroup.

One of the 100+ casualties mourned by the BBC newscaster was the Commander of rocket fire for Islamic Jihad. Others were rocket-firing combatants. Others were Hamas operatives, commanders, leaders. And others were those who made a decision to put their bodies in front of Hamas to protect them.

Yes, there have been innocent civilians who have died in this conflict. Not in Israel because…here we go again – WE put our people in bomb shelters; they put their leaders in bunkers.

What will a ceasefire at this time accomplish? If history remains true, it will afford the Palestinians yet another opportunity to rearm. It will afford them yet another opportunity to believe, in the misguided thinking of their culture, that we are weak and too afraid to fight.

Our mothers and children are fighting in the south and throughout Israel – we fight by living each day, by taking our children to bomb shelters and playing with them, sitting with them, allowing our government and soldiers to do what they need to do.

Did we spend the last 7 days running to shelter so that Israel could allow this to be yet another operation? Should we begin now to think what name will be given to the next incursion? With all due respect, when did Egypt become our friend? Are we stupid enough to think they act on our behalf? John Kerry? Seriously?

Bibi Netanyahu – Israel stands alone. We have dear friends but it is your people under fire. Listen to the people of Israel. From all over, I have heard repeatedly that for peace we should do all we can…but not for a ceasefire.

No, Bibi, we do NOT want a ceasefire, we want peace. Any discussion that begins and ends with a ceasefire is wrong. Wrong for Israel. How many times do we have to travel this same road? How many operations and wars do we need to have before you realize that these ceasefires cater to the needs of our enemies, not the needs of your people.

No, Mr. BBC, I do not want a ceasefire. The Palestinians don’t even understand the concept. The nation of Israel wants peace and will settle for no less.

If we can’t have peace, then finish the job you promised you would do, Bibi, destroy Hamas and every damn rocket in Gaza.

About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.
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