Today I thought about the Yom Kippur War. How we, new immigrants with a two year-old and a newborn, were informed by loudspeakers to go to our shelters. I remember my panic and confusion as I put my infant son in his baby seat, and took my toddler daughter by the hand.
That toddler was my daughter Bracha. And now, fifty years later, her son Eilon, my grandson, is in uniform in an engineering combat unit whose expertise is blowing up terrorists strongholds. It’s unimaginable. I have three other grandchildren in uniform, but not in combat roles. I learn from them about secret miracles that happened: Hamas attacked a base of the cyber unit 8200. They had maps, direct intelligence, and were assigned to download all of Israel’s most important security secrets and take them back to Gaza. They actually succeeded in attacking the unit and getting inside. Miraculously, they chose the wrong building in the complex. Soon soldiers came and finished them off. If Hamas had succeeded, it would have been a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.
I have to admit that my morning treat is watching the photos of bombed-out Gazan neighborhoods from IDF activity the night before. I start each day scrolling through online websites, seeing the photos of smiling young men and women. Such beautiful people, Israelis! Strong, smart, and kind. But I’m afraid to click on the links, not knowing if the story will tell me how they were murdered, kidnapped, fell in battle, or survived to become heroes, each scenario equally feasible; afraid that the young face I have just now fallen in love with may already be at the end of their path on this earth instead of still at the beginning.
Day after day the hospitals in Gaza keep warning that in the next few hours they are going to shut down because they have no fuel for their generators, only to post photos hours later with electric lights shining. Hamas desperately needs fuel for its rocket launchers and underground tunnels. Their sob stories to get it are endless. Israel is going to have to bomb hospitals because they are the main location of Hamas fighters, rocket launchers, and weapons. Palestinians have already evacuated the Turkish hospital. Field hospitals set up in Egypt are waiting for patients. But I doubt Hamas will let their main human shields in other hospitals escape. They’d rather see them buried in rubble. Such great photos for their sob stories, after all!
What are the Gazans most afraid of? Reading talk-backs in the Arabic press, the editor of Abu Ali website states the following: They are terrified of seeing Israeli soldiers in Gaza near places they recognize. And they are despondent that the Arab world is not coming to their aid. In a video posted on Arab websites, a wailing woman in Gaza standing over a coffin screams: This is all the fault of the Hamas dogs!” Someone quickly shuts her up.
How are these endless horrors affecting us? It feels like the whole country is experiencing chemotherapy to kill the cancer that was eating away at our society, destroying us from the inside. The cure is excruciatingly painful, close to deadly. But it seems to be working.
Whereas before, we were truly divided and filled with fury at each other for our political views, our religious affiliation, our feelings about “settlements” in Judea and Samaria, all that has disappeared. We have never been so united. Ever.
What can anyone say about the “settlements” over the so-called Green Line now? People understand as never before that just as Be’eri, Nir Oz, Zikim, and Alumim in the South protected Israel from the brunt of the terrorist invasion from Gaza, so the settlements in Judea and Samaria built by our pioneers, in face of so much opposition from those who wanted to turn it all over to the Palestinian Authority, are now a barrier protecting our main population centers in Gush Dan from terrorists in Tul Karem, Shechem, Kalkilyah, etc. on the other side. As MK Gideon Saar said yesterday: “Not an inch of land will ever be turned over to them again.”
Another good thing that I see is the worldwide awakening of the average disinterested non-Jew to the truth of the Arab-Israeli conflict. For the first time, they see the horror and cruelty and true agenda of the “Free Palestine” advocates. They are taking sides with Israel because they have seen the horrific acts committed by Palestinians. “I can’t side with any cause that uses such methods,” someone wrote. And that sentiment seems to be widespread. The front pages of the German newspaper Bild and the British Sun displaying the photos of our kidnapped children, clearly show that world sentiment is swaying towards the Israeli side. In previous wars, by this time, the world would have been bellowing at us for a ceasefire at the photos coming out of Gaza. Now I see the talkbacks: “Good for the Israelis. These terrorists deserve it!”
I am also seeing more encouraging videos from places like New York where people tearing down posters of kidnapped Israelis are belligerently confronted, even arrested. Are Jews finding the courage to stand up for themselves and their communities, drawing strength from Israeli’s bravery? I certainly hope so and that they will stand up themselves instead of hiding their Jewishness, organizing their communities, their college campuses, and their synagogues instead of cowering. I hope they are getting gun permits and going down to the shooting range.
This is quite different than world opinion during the Intifada back in 2001-2 even though we faced the same atrocities from Hamas. I myself and my family were almost killed at the Passover Massacre. And yet Israel was denounced and blamed for not being nice enough to the Palestinians, deserving what was happening to us. That is until 9/11. Now thankfully, many Western governments have at long last decided to stand beside us.
Israelis will never be the same. Neither will their political leaders. The video of Knesset Members staggering out of an uncensored video of atrocities committed on October 7 – yet to be released to the public or the media – shows them in tears, barely able to stand. They will not forget what they’ve seen, a uniting factor that has silenced the most vicious debates dividing our people for decades. There are no two camps now, for and against land for peace. That is dead, disproved, discarded.
I will end with my own humanitarian suggestion: Hamas! Release our hostages and surrender. That is the only way to stop the bombing. All civilian deaths in this conflict are your fault and your responsibility. Please repeat this everywhere you can.