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Then and Now

I was watching an old re-run of the movie about Entebbe tonight.

And there was this scene where the IDF is making elaborate preparations to fly half-way around the world to free endangered citizens of Israel. There would be a car resembling Idi Amin’s vehicle which would be unloaded from a plane. There would be split-second timing involved. It was so dangerous, so far away, involving so much international intrigue and possible disaster. So the generals go to the Minister of Defense, presenting their plans to him. Shimon Peres, playing himself in the movie, looks them over and says: “I will recommend that the Cabinet accept this and move forward.”

I scratched my head. Shimon Peres? The dove? Said that?

And I thought about Sderot, and the rockets that fall daily on homes, one narrowly missing a school full of children only last week. Sderot, not thousands of miles away in deepest Africa, but a stone’s throw (rocket launch?) away. And yet, our government can’t seem to muster the energy to do the simplest and most understandable of actions to stop it: take over the area from which the rockets are being launched and keep it rocket free.

Now, why would that pose a problem when years ago rescuing Israelis being held hostage in Uganda was unanimously approved by the Israeli government?

What has happened between then and now?

I have thought about this long and hard. It is not that our capabilities have diminished. If anything, the Israeli army is stronger and incomparably better equipped then ever. There is only one reason that we, the same people who did not hesitate to launch planes to invade another continent despite the risks of international condemnation, are now too afraid to launch the necessary military strike that is called for to protect our backyards: a loss of faith in the rightness of our cause.

Years of international propaganda in the form of CNN and BBC broadcasts aimed at our living rooms have somehow convinced – at least our leadership – that the Jews of Israel must live with terror; must not make waves, must, in fact, wait for the bombs to actually hit a school and be able to produce pictures (G-d forbid!) of childrens’ bloodied bodies in hospitals or parents wailing at funerals. Only then will the spineless men and women of the Kadima government be willing to tarnish their images on international talk shows by doing what they must do: act decisively and pre-emptively to save lives. Before he was elected, I met with Ehud Olmert. This preceded the “disengagement” from Gaza. I asked him why he was in favor of it. His answer: “If it will save even one life, we must do it.”

The life of an Israeli soldier or settler, I assumed.

Where, Mr. Olmert, is that wonderful concern for the lives of the children of Sderot? Is there any question that taking over the rocket-launching sites of Gaza will stop the attacks and save lives? But here too, there is a change. “If it saves only one life” was the mantra that allowed Israel to uproot and destroy whole Jewish communities. Where is that mantra now when we must uproot and destroy the terrorists in Gaza who have moved into the rubble of Jewish homes to threaten the lives of our children?

What is at question here is the backbone of a nation and its will to survive.

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