Michal Cotler-Wunsh

The Iron(y) of it all

With trepidation, 2 (or 3) million Israelis awoke this morning to discover that the sun is still shining. For many, this was the first encounter with the sounds of sirens, explosions and bomb shelters. For many, it was the first conversation with their kids clarifying that the ‘drills’ they have had in school are now relevant and must be refreshed. Unlike the incredibly courageous citizens of southern Israel who endured the implications of ‘being in missile range’ for years, for many of us this was the first ‘morning after the night before’.

Israel’s Iron Dome batteries successfully intercepted rockets that threatened Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and outlying towns, as far north as Hadera. Morning came and 2 million citizens looked in their children’s eyes and had to answer tough questions. Pulling out of the arsenal of all of our parenting wisdom, ‘knowledge is power’, ‘we trust our military forces to protect us’, ‘Iron Dome has proven its effectiveness’ and ‘we cannot let terror win by allowing fear to guide us’, parents encouraged their kids to continue with daily life. Amazingly, thanks to Iron Dome, most of the country is indeed in full force, ‘business as usual’ routine – work, camp, exams – unless specifically instructed otherwise by Home front Command.

Resiliency of human beings has been demonstrated throughout history. Life is indeed stronger and the will to live empowers and encourages human beings at the most challenging of times. Civilians living in the ‘south’ of Israel have been surviving in this way for years. They can tell us a thing or two about the trauma that adults and kids have endured, and the long term implications remain to be assessed and incorporated into applied psychological research. But all in all, they have led routine lives and have resolved to not allow fear guide them.

Appropriately, the literal translation of the current operation is ‘resilient precipice’. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, resilience is “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress” and precipice is “a hazardous situation”. In large part thanks to the Iron Dome batteries active throughout the country, the behavior of the entire Israeli public, led by the brave citizens of the ‘south’, accurately reflects and embodies the capability to recover from stress of this ongoing hazardous situation.

The irony of it is that this very resiliency afforded by the Iron Dome batteries is utilized and exploited to Israel’s detriment. The choice that Israel made to invest tremendous resources in the Iron Dome batteries, diverting those very resources from education; health; care for the elderly; and the general well-being of Israel’s civilian population, is worthwhile only if it indeed affords us the resiliency in hazardous situations. While Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the Jewish State by means of deadly force and the targeting of civilian population may not have the resilience of iron dome, they manipulatively benefit from world opinion. While the Hamas disregards the value of human life of the very civilian population from which they launch their rockets, in supreme effort to protect human life the IDF alerts these civilians of upcoming strikes, ‘knocking on the roofs’ of the very structures that house ammunition fired at Israel.

The irony of it is that the fact that there have been and will most certainly continue to be casualties to civilian population in Gaza, but none in Jerusalem Tel Aviv, or Hadera as Israel daily chooses to embody this ‘resilient precipice’. The irony of it is that comparing the number of civilian casualties, the world community will continue to make the moral equations ultimately enabling terrorism to succeed in its goal of instilling and utilizing fear to shape decisions. The irony of it is that the very resilience of Israel and her people at hazardous times weakens Israel and strengthen Hamas and all State sponsored terrorism. The irony of it is the rather than learning from the experience that Israel is living and extending knowledge gain to the common war on terror, human nature which differentiates and sets apart, all too often brings free and democratic people to draw the wrong conclusions and ultimately render themselves less resilient in the hazardous times ahead.

About the Author
The writer is a lawyer, research fellow, and policy and strategy advisor. She served as an MK in Israel’s 23rd Knesset, co-founding the International Bi-Partisan Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism.