I am writing this on Wednesday afternoon when the country is holding its breath and wondering what’s going to happen when the truce comes to an end at midnight. On the one hand there is generally a reluctance to go to war, but on the other a clear understanding that Israel is not prepared to let Hamas retain the ability to take us back to this situation in another few years.
The view taken by the rest of the world is seen as an unhelpful irrelevance. The double standards are so obvious and so blatant that I believe the average Israeli has ceased to care.
One of the most unashamed examples is Vince Cable’s statement that Britain would suspend export licences “in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities”. In other words, if Hamas attacks Israel Britain will stop selling Israel some of the arms it needs to keep its people (Jews) safe.
The truth is that when the chips are down we Jews can only rely on ourselves and the Almighty.
Increasingly residents from European countries especially France are here looking to make Aliyah. The other night I met two men both of whose families were renting apartments in my block. Both from Paris, both said that they were moving here next year.
The war has understandably affected the tourist trade and Israelis, who tend to go abroad in the summer, are being urged to holiday at home. There are some pretty good bargains available, the weather is wonderful as usual, and Netanya has suddenly started to fill up with visitors, although some of them are clearly Jews spying out the land, which is as always full of milk and honey.
The only really major surprise is that, as I was walking to shul last Shabbat, it rained!
I am writing this on Tisha B’Av, the fast that commemorates just about every disaster that befell our people. If ever there was a day to realise the importance of having our own defence forces, not dependent upon the goodwill of any other nation, today is it.
I am sickened by the emergence of anti-Semitism thinly described as agitation on behalf of the Palestinians in Gaza. One of the most remarkable things about Operation Protective Edge has been the absence of Arab demonstrations in support of Hamas. Even in Ramallah, theoretically part of the same state and ruled by a joint Fatah-Hamas government, the silence has been deafening.
There is a pernicious idea among world statesman that views Israel and Hamas as if there were moral equivalence. One is a sovereign democratic state, a full member of the United Nations and a major contributor to world civilisation in numerous fields. The other is a terrorist organisation which will be as likely to observe any commitments towards Israel as Boko Haram would observe towards Nigeria or Al Qaeda towards the United States.
Today Israel is pulling its troops out of Gaza. Doubtless there will be lively political debate in the weeks ahead about what Israel has done and what it ought to be doing. That after all is the nature of democracy, and in the Jewish state the arguments are even livelier!
Much nonsense is talked about bringing democracy to the Arabs, ignoring the fact that theirs is a tribal society. Democracy in Europe took 1000 years to become widespread, and the idea that it can be implanted into the Middle East in a few short years is childlike. Even in the West Bank real authority still resides with the five tribes that inhabit the area, and not the government in Ramallah.
Israel is mourning every single death as if it was a member of their own family. We are also mourning the Palestinians who have been sacrificed in Gaza by a government that stops them fleeing when they are advised to do so by the Israelis, the same government that stops them going to the Israeli field hospital by the Erez crossing when it is painfully obvious that Gaza’s Arab hospitals cannot cope. Hamas knew that there would be war with Israel but built no shelters, despite the risks that their people would face.
And yet the world regards us as the bad guys!! That is why Israel and the Jewish people must be able to rely on ourselves.
It is very difficult, sitting in Netanya, to believe that a little over 100 km from here – say 90 minutes in a fast car – fierce fighting is going on. In almost the whole of Israel life is more or less as normal. There is less traffic on the roads although this is also due to the school holidays.
Heavy casualties could have happened in Israel were it not for the Iron Dome, but this is actually a mistranslation. The Hebrew is “Kipat Barzel” but calling it the “Iron Yarmulke” doesn’t have quite the same impact!
Israelis are quite blasé about current events and the nation is overwhelmingly in support of the government. The terrorism of Hamas really has to be dealt with, despite the polite bleating of Europe and the unbelievable ignorance and incompetence of the White House.
But there are enormous strains. One of my friends has two sons in the army in Gaza. The grandson of some other friends is in tanks. We are all looking forward to his sister’s wedding at the end of August, but both bride and groom are in the army. One of the soldier casualties used to work at the Meatland store in Ra’anana. Grandparents find themselves doing unusual hours to cover absent parents.
One of my grandchildren has been a little nervous because of the rockets, but the others seem unaffected. Last night when rockets were fired towards Tel Aviv the dog was woken up by the siren, but the others just turned over and went on sleeping!
An incidental problem is the shrapnel that falls to earth when a rocket has been detonated by the Iron Dome. Israelis are told to stay in shelter for 10 minutes after the Boom to avoid bits of metal that are falling. In the Park at the other end of the street where my daughter and grandchildren (and dog) go almost daily, the tail assembly of a rocket recently lodged.
One of the problems with this war is calculating the casualty figures in Gaza. We know how many Israeli soldiers have fallen because they wear uniforms. Terrorist do not. They wear civilian clothes and inflate the percentage of civilian dead. The best estimate is that slightly over two thirds of the casualties are Hamas, and perhaps a further 15% could be as well.
Israel is calm and determined. We are going to win this one, and Jewish blood is no longer going to be cheap.