The offensive defensiveness

The age-old concept that the best defense is a good offense may work in football, but it doesn’t work in life, it doesn’t work in friendships, and it doesn’t work to truly show the world and our own people the best paths into the future.

Israel finds itself in a world waiting to malign her, waiting to assume the worst. Much of the world is ready to condemn Israel for all manner of actions, most of which, we likely have never even done. It always amazes me when those among us jump to do the same. I remember clearly the morning after the Sabra and Shatilla massacres. Friends and relatives bemoaned what Israel had done. I kept asking them what proof there was that Israel had done anything. “Well, on CNN they said…” Yeah, CNN, great.

As it turned out… Israel didn’t do it – the Christian Phalangists did it. Yes, there was an issue of Israel giving them access to the region but there were no Israelis who participated, no Israelis who watched it in silence. Israel did NOT kill the Palestinians in Sabra and Shatilla – that is the fact.

I remember the days after a family was killed on a beach in Gaza… the blame, even among the left – only once again, when the smoke cleared, Israel didn’t do it. On and on, there are so many examples of people taking something and Israel constantly taking the defensive, only later to show wait… it wasn’t us.

The world is playing a game with us, threatening us with boycotts, isolation, and more. I find our constant need to defend ourselves quite offensive. More, I think it important to remember who we are, what we have accomplished. To focus on one incident is to ignore the greater good that we bring to this world. No nation can do all things right, all the time. No people, no community, no person, no parent, no teacher. But to ignore the good that is done the vast majority of the time is wrong.

Nothing is accomplished by getting into a spitting match and using public airwaves is just dumb. Too often, I find myself dragged into these situations where I defend myself. Someone will write to me and say that the Palestinians have done nothing to the Israelis and I’ll find myself listing war after war, event after event, attack after attack until I call myself back and remind myself that responding doesn’t help when a person’s mind is closed.

We have survived for thousands of years by taking a united stand and working together to survive. Endlessly reminding ourselves of the divisions among us wastes our energy and only serves the interests of our enemies.

I had a wonderful call today from a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people, a Christian man who wonders why the Jews are so quick to turn on each other, so quick to allow the John Kerrys to rule our lives. He cares enough that he has chosen to make his home here in this land. He spoke with more conviction and more ahavath Yisrael (love of Israel) than a lot of Jews I know.

And as the day draws to a close and I ponder the hurtful words of so many, I am reminded that the future of Israel rests not with those who would divide, but with those who overlook the differences to focus on the whole. There is no question in my mind who the dividers are – sadly, most of those in public office today fall into this category. Those who are quick to make insinuations, those who are quick to hint and then withdraw, those who know the truth but resort to lies. No, Israel didn’t then, now and likely not in the future, intentionally hurt innocents. The blood libel of the dark ages remains an ongoing stain.

The real test for the Jewish people is to look forward, not backwards. Whatever happened in the distant past cannot be used as an excuse to cause further dissension and disunity. Yes, lessons must be learned. We have withdrawn too far, given up too much. We appear weak to our enemies and worst of all, we fight among ourselves while our enemies gleefully unite.

To be a realist in Israel, Ben Gurion told the world, you have to believe in miracles. Realistically, the only way Israel can survive, will be with the miraculous intervention of God. That may come in the form of winning a war, missiles that continue to land in open fields, mysterious explosions, computer viruses – all are part of the miracles. Or maybe the greatest miracle would be for God to help us erase the sinat hinam, the internal and seemingly eternal hatred between Jews.

I firmly believe we can survive any challenge made to this country from the outside. It is the challenge we put to ourselves that makes me wonder.

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.