The swagger in our step

Sad but true: Israel can only meet violence with violence

It has begun. The IDF has finally engaged the enemy, after a near-constant barrage of missiles on southern Israel’s one million-strong civilian population. I am not jubilant. It is our grim reality that our peaceable people must necessarily hit back at the enemy and HARD. Or the enemy will not stop.

We have a duty to survive. We have a duty to provide our citizenry, our children, and our elderly, with quality of life.

It is unfortunate that the only language the enemy understands is violence.

It is too bad we waited this long to protect and defend our interests; because no matter what the world says, this just won’t stop unless we hit back HARDER.

I know this from the wisdom acquired with (middle) age. I know it in my guts. And I have personal experience with this, too.

Hit Him Back

“Face him down. Hit him BACK,” I said to my son 18 years ago, when he was but 11 years-old. “I know that’s not your style. But it’s the only way to get him to stop.”

There was this boy in his class, I’ll call him “R,” who each time he walked past my son’s desk, reached out and gave my son a punch in the arm. A HARD punch. And somehow the teacher never noticed.

Maybe this kid “R” was so good he just timed things right, so the teacher never saw. Or maybe the rows of wooden desks offered cover.

On the other hand, who knows? Maybe the teacher did notice. Perhaps he noticed and didn’t care. Maybe he thought: that’s what boys DO. Maybe he thought the boys should resolve their “issues” on their own.

(photo credit: Flash90)

Or maybe he just didn’t want to deal with this business that was trying to insert itself into his classroom, where he was just trying to make it through another day, on a salary that was not covering his expenses. Maybe he’d just lost his gumption because of the daily grind, wearing him down to a nub of his former self.

No matter. The end result was the same: no one was going to fight my son’s battle. Like it or not, only my son could put an end to this daily abuse.

(photo credit: The Bully Project/JTA)

It wasn’t fair. My son knew that and so did I. Here was a violent kid foisting his nature on a classmate with an absolute loathing for violence and fisticuffs. Maybe that was the trigger. Maybe R just couldn’t help but target my son. The attraction of his fist to my son’s body was just too great because he needed to know my son’s limits. What would it take to break my son, to CHANGE him and make him what he was not? How many punches? How many days?

It wasn’t just R. He was just the latest incarnation of my son’s daily brush up with violence. This had been going on for years.

My son would sit in the back of the van that transported the schoolchildren of our settlement to their Jerusalem school and back each day, and the kids would torment him. Some days, my son came home with a tear-stained face. Other days, he managed to hold back the tears until safe at home and in my arms. On the worst days, he’d walk in the door bloodied and bruised.

When I spoke to the driver, a neighbor who drew a pittance for performing his service, he told me that it was not his job to monitor the children. His job was only to drive. I could not make him see sense. I could not get him to see how he would feel if this was HIS kid.

Wolves In Boy Clothing

So it wasn’t just R. It was my son, with his unusually peaceful nature, pitted against a pack of wolves in boy clothing on a regular, daily basis.

My son kept explaining to me what I already knew: it’s not that he couldn’t fight. It’s that he didn’t like to fight—didn’t see the PURPOSE of fighting.

And I kept telling him: the only way to end this thing with R is to beat the crap out of him.

One day, my son came home from school and I knew right away that something was different. There was swagger in his walk. His shoulders were higher. I knew. I said, “You beat up R.”

Not A Question

It was a statement, not a question.

My son nodded.

R never hit him again.

There were visible, regrettable changes in my son. He would never regain that earlier insistence on nonviolence, on using his words instead of his fists.

Hard To Witness

It was a change I found hard to witness.

Yet I no longer feared for him. I knew that now he could make his way in the world. I knew he would be able to cope with the things I could not change about the world.

The parenting experts would likely have damned me for the way I did and didn’t handle this parenting issue. But in the end, my son was the only one who could solve his own problem.

(photo credit: Flash90)

Today I thought back to my son and how he was forced to change, as the news trickled in from the south and I knew: only Israel can solve Israel’s problem. If Israel cuts short its operation due to world pressure, the missiles will rain down like never before. Our children’s children will also wet the bed.

(photo credit: CC BY-SA World Economic Forum)

The world can preach nonviolence. The world can tell us it knows a better way. World leaders can vie for the most peaceful words or win Nobel Peace Prizes for intentions alone. The hard-learned lesson for Israel, however, is that violence can only be met with greater strength and resolve.

Violence does not understand peace. The two do not speak a common language. Our cultural concepts are in eternal conflict.

Israel must necessarily change and shrug off the global naysayers, who are after all, just a different kind of parenting expert: the kind of experts who are expert at nothing. They are just talking heads, carrying out their imbecilic little tasks and jobs while we actually suffer. It’s meet violence with violence or die, because the other side is immune to spilled Jewish blood, Jewish pain and trauma.

In the end, Israel is the only entity on Israel’s side. The only way to end this state of war, the only game changer, is to hit out with force and finality. And if the result is a swagger in our step, I will not weep.

About the Author
Varda Epstein is a blogger and Communications Writer for