Tonight is the 4th night of Chanukah, and our family went over to my mother’s to light the candles and order Chinese food. Since it happens to be Christmas today, Chinese was the plan. We all know that Jews and Chinese food on Christmas are like latkes and applesauce. They just go together. As we pulled back into our driveway after the night with family, I decided to turn on the radio, and listen to the news. The first story that came up was discussing how a rocket was fired from Gaza toward the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon today. While many Jews in the diaspora were at home today (likely eating Chinese), Jews in Israel were faced with yet another imminent threat. The rocket seems as if it was fired in the direction of a Benjamin Netanyahu Campaign rally, which is similar to another rocket attack that was aimed his way this past September. The former attack was spearheaded by Palestinian Islamic Jihadist Baha Abu al-Ata, who was later killed by a counterstrike from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). One thing we do know about this most recent attack, is that someone has picked up where al-Ata left off.
Whether one is a fan of Netanyahu and his policies or not is irrelevant. The fact remains that Jews in Israel are forced to live in a consistent state of vigilance. I have previously discussed how Israel’s government, and especially its military, are under a very powerful worldwide microscope. One seemingly false or even controversial move, and people are calling for the destruction of the Jewish state itself. The IDF is often the primary target of criticism regarding their tactics, and the world consistently paints the IDF as overly harsh and aggressive.
I am not an Israeli citizen, and I cannot speak to the direct experience of those living in the region. But, I would like to pose a question which I think is especially salient for those who are quick to nitpick Israeli policy and action. If rockets intended to kill were being fired into the United States, how would you expect our military to react? I will not answer that myself, but I think it is sometimes important to humanize the middle east. Our media spends so much time talking about the instability of the region in macro terms, that it could be easy to forget that what we are truly discussing at the end of the day is human lives. What if your loved ones lived there?
Luckily, this latest rocket was intercepted by the IDF’s Iron Dome aerial defense system before it could do any quantitative damage to person or place. I will make it clear that my intention is not to place Israel on an untouchable pedestal and to claim that the state can do no wrong. But, current events will happen, and I will generally try to respond. The fact remains that Israel was attacked from Gaza, and I firmly believe that when Jews get attacked anywhere, Jews are attacked everywhere. It will likely only be a matter of time before someone from Gaza takes responsibility for this launching, and unfortunately, this will all probably happen ad nauseam.
If this were to happen in America, we would likely be scrambling to discover who carried out this horrific attack, and to make sure that they were neutralized moving forward, whatever that were to mean specifically. Does Israel have this same right? If Israel responds with force, will its tactics be viewed as oppressive, hyper-reactive, and terroristic by many? Most likely, yes.
So, as most of America exchanged presents, laughed, ate, and drank with family (some just had a regular Wednesday with Chinese), Israel’s defense forces shot down a rocket that was intended to kill Jewish people. I actually had to scroll through most of the American news websites to even find mention of the attack. To add even more insult to injury, the articles were generally framed as Benjamin Netanyahu articles; “and oh by the way, there was a rocket, but Benjamin Netanyahu…”
Israel is the only Jewish state in the world. I do believe that Israel has the right to protect itself, and I even understand why the state might seem a bit edgy and hyper-alert at times. Without a keen focus on surveillance, rockets like this latest one would be resulting in casualties.
I would urge you to at least take a pause the next time you rush to criticize Israel, and just keep this in mind…While most of America sat down for a Christmas meal, a rocket flew over the people of Israel.
**Update** The IDF has already responded with aircraft strikes at Hamas terror strongholds in Gaza. Since Hamas runs Gaza, this is not surprising news.