There is only one precedent of a modern democracy besieged under rocket attacks.
During the afternoon of September 7, 1940, 348 Nazi bombers appeared over London’s skies. For the next two months, London was bombed day and night. Fires consumed many portions of the city. Residents sought shelter wherever they could find it – many fleeing to the underground station that sheltered as many as 177,000 people during the night.
Little is said or written about the incredible courage being shown by the civilian population of Israel, but it is reminiscent of events 70 years ago in Europe.
Like the Londoners, who endured the blitz stoically, with British aplomb and quiet courage, the people of Israel are equally valiant, going about their daily lives knowing that killers might explode a bomb or rocket in any public place at any time. Since the year of the founding of the state, more than 60,000 rockets have fallen on Israel.
Unlike those who believe in a peaceful and political solution to the “Palestinian” question, the Hamas’ Covenant proclaims: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question, except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
Israel is like Guernica, the Basque town that in 1937 was the premature victim of the savage and merciless Nazi Blitzkrieg that was to sweep Europe.
But there is a big difference between the two historic situations.
The Allies during the war didn’t hesitate to impose a collective punishment on the German people, while today we like to believe that the State of Israel is facing just individual murderers and isolated fanatics, and must pardon the society that nurtures them.
The Arab population of Judea, Samaria and Gaza is responsible for Hamas’ terrorism. Collective punishment of that population by Israel is – when administered in proportion to the evils it is meant to combat – justified and required. The Palestinian Arab population is responsible for Hamas and the PLO.
An enemy society is exactly what the Jewish State is confronting. And in Kiryat Malachi, three residents, killed by Islamic terrorists, are just the latest victims in the war between Israel and that society.
Israel lost the battle during the first Intifada, when Jewish civilians on the roads were routinely assaulted with rocks and firebombs by Arab gangs, because it didn’t combat the attacks with the force that may have prevented them from evolving into the terror of today that comes from Gaza.
Palestinian Arabs rock-throwers were met with a vehicle that sprayed them with pebbles. Soldiers were armed with rubber bullets and given orders not to attack when not under attack themselves.
The Jewish “settlers” at that time called on the government to take punitive action against the villages from where the attacks were launched, but the Jewish residents were demonized themselves and were answered with self-righteous hypocrisy decrying the immorality of “collective punishment”.
This is how evil has grown to surround Israel.
Even Israel’s supporters in the West like to believe that the Jewish State, granting de-facto immunity to the society that sponsors terrorist savagery, committed itself to a higher ethical standard. We like to discern the IDF’s “purity of weapons”. But preferring an illusion of peace to retaliating with the full force at Israel’s disposal against the terrorists’ home base – their communities and their ideological supporters, who bear collective responsibility for the terror – is a Jewish crime, not a Jewish virtue.
Terror is a collective punishment, the answer to it must include collective punishment.
Twenty years after the first Gulf War, Israel remains the only “bunkered” democracy in the world and is now even more relentlessly demonized and ghettoized.
Israel is a small country. This is not to say that it’s destined for extinction; only that it can be.
Moreover, in its vulnerability to extinction, Israel is not just any small country. It is the only country whose neighbors declare its very existence an affront to God and make its destruction a paramount national goal.
But if in 1991, Israel responded with understatement and quiet civil courage, let’s hope that today it will react differently to genocidal terrorism. Because, as Joe McCain wrote few years ago, “the Jews will not go quietly again.”
And there is another big difference between London in 1940 and Tel Aviv in 2012: while the West backed the British resistance against the Nazi monster, Israel is alone in fighting a battle for all of us.
As Israelis are heading to shelters these days, the questions in their minds are two: Will the West come to our aid? How many friends can the Jewish State really count on these days?
Take a step forward and say that you are one of those friends. I did.
The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book “A New Shoah”, that researched the personal stories of Israel’s terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing, often the Arutz Sheva op-eds, appears in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.
Source material can be found at this site.