By: Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D. Jewish Press
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Our beloved Israel is engaged in an existential fight for survival. From the moment of its birth in 1948, Israel has been under constant siege. This latest war, however, feels different. It comes upon Israel after decades of non-stop terrorist attacks, large-scale military battles, and endless international boycotts and condemnation.
Israel has been relentlessly demonized and successfully isolated by lethal propaganda. World-class illiterates and leading academics have loudly agreed that Israel is a â€œNazi, apartheidâ€ state that deserves disdain and death or have shamefully looked the other way as Jewish blood flowed and the noose tightened, perhaps secretly hoping that a second Holocaust â€“ this one for the Jews of Israel â€“ might somehow spare the West from experiencing its own much larger Holocaust at Islamist hands.
I first wrote in these pages in 2004 and again in 2006 that the beginnings of a second Holocaust were already discernable. A handful of others also envisioned this. Only recently have some Jewish-American leaders begun to entertain this idea and to repeat our lines but without acknowledging their source. Until now I was mocked as a â€œJewish Cassandraâ€ by certain Jewish leaders and slandered, banished, or simply ignored by the mainstream (liberal, left, and feminist) media.
Tragically, many of our leading Jewish intellectuals and our mainly liberal Jewish masses shared the view that whatever was happening was not really happening â€“ and if it was, that Israel either had only itself to blame or actually had the power to reverse the course of events. Even today, many Israeli leftists and feminists actually believe that Israel can find peace by negotiating with Hamas and Hizbullah. They send me their ideas. They boggle the mind.
Over the years, Israelis have learned to live large and tough and sweet despite the unending attacks against them. Now, for the first time, Israelis, Jews, and their many supporters are beginning to contemplate the unbearable â€“ namely, that the siege against Israel might never end, that our Islamist enemies (and their supporters in the Western media and academy) will never stop until they wear us down completely, drive us into the sea, or annihilate us with nuclear weaponry.
Of course, Israelis are not leaving (though many of Israelâ€™s wealthiest and most well connected citizens have second and third homes on other continents and work and travel outside of Israel a great deal). True, thousands of Jews have made aliyah in the past few years, despite the ongoing violence, and world Jewry, our Christian Zionist supporters, and the American government have continued to visit, fund, and arm Israel.
Still, there is a somber and infinitely sad quality to the conversations Iâ€™ve had with many Israelis. Those who have lived long enough are exhausted and afraid. The never-ending battle for the land is consuming their young. They and their children after them have all fought and been wounded in Israelâ€™s unending wars; now they are sending their grandchildren to the front. Worse: the entire country has become the front.
In the space of five weeks, trees that took one hundred years to grow were burned to the ground by Hizbullah rockets. The Israeli north became one vast ghost town, Kiryat Shmonah was devastated, more than a million Israeli refugees were forced to flee â€“ though they have been welcomed by other Israelis who live in temporarily safer, southern communities. (May this hospitality begin to unite our people.) But little of this has been shown by the world media, which has focused obsessively on the Lebanese civilian dead.
How ironic. Israeli civilians are essentially soldiers while Iranian terrorist army members who dress in street clothes are counted by the media as â€œcivilianâ€ dead. Despite being stopped in some instances by vigilant bloggers, the world media continue to run Hizbullahâ€™s doctored footage and craftily arranged photo opportunities.
Israelis are asking some hard but necessary questions. A Haifa resident admitted that â€œfinally, for the first time in 40 years,â€ she is â€œdepressedâ€ and wondering â€œwhether Israel has a future.â€ Israelâ€™s enemies, she said, â€œlive only to fight, kill, and die. They â€˜winâ€™ if they can reduce our way of life to one of brute existence.â€
A resident of Jerusalem tells me â€œthe loss is great, the fear is deep, confidence is low, support for the soldiers is high, but we feel isolated and misrepresented, misunderstood. Where will this end?â€
Another Jerusalem resident says, â€œThe war in the field is barely connected to the war being constructed by the media who mold the broadcasts to fit their ideologies. The ironies are too much to bear.â€
A refugee from Nahariya: â€œThe Israeli government is not showing us the pictures of the northern towns. But are they getting out to the world? Do you see the Israeli wounded, are you getting the picture of what itâ€™s like to live in a bomb shelter actually or in your head for five or six weeks? How long are we supposed to do this?â€
The director of a northern kibbutz for handicapped and special-needs children writes that his vulnerable charges are â€œterrified by all the rocket-dodgingâ€ and by life in â€œsmall, crowded, underground spaces.â€
Even some proverbially nonchalant Tel Avivians have confirmed that they have been staying home â€œevery single nightâ€ to be close to their young children and aging parents â€œin case they are bombed.â€
Today, for the first time, Israelis and Jews are beginning to think the unthinkable. How long must Israel continue to do the heavy lifting in Americaâ€™s civilizational war against Iran and Syria and indeed against Islamist jihad? At what point will Israel need to consider exercising its nuclear option against Iran?
Can Israel, or Israel and America, succeed militarily? Even if they can, will the fallout for Israel be greater politically â€“ or radioactively? Must the Jews once again enact another Masada-like scenario? Or is Israel, unrestrained, still capable of an Entebbe-like commando action that will stop Ahmadinejad/Armageddon?
Conversely, will the Jews have to consider leaving Israel again, at least temporarily? If they do, where will they go? To the moon? Under the sea? Perchance to Arizona or New Mexico for a century until things quiet down in the Middle East? But will Jews ever be safe in a Jew-hating world without a strong Israel?
Just this month a London hairdresser refused to cut â€œthe hair of a Jewâ€ (a woman who had frequented the salon for a decade) and 20 Jewish shops were vandalized in Rome. Anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist, and anti-American marches (not to mention terrorist attacks against trains and buses and plots against airlines) continue unabated in every major European capital. Placards read: â€œEurope is the Cancer. Islam is the Answerâ€; â€œEurope You Will Pay, Your 9/11 Is on Its Wayâ€; and â€œBe Prepared for the Real Holocaust.â€
And itâ€™s not just Europe: Dislike, if not open hatred, for Israel, coupled with the belief in an evil Zionist lobby, is rampant on American campuses, within certain quarters of the American State Department, and among the progressive and mainstream media. This month in Washington, D.C., ten-year-old Arab-American girls chanted pro-Hizbullah slogans.
Religious Zionists will never give up on Israel; I doubt secular Israelis will either. I certainly wonâ€™t. And Israeli soldiers are absolutely willing and able to fight. But the exhaustion and the danger are real and must be factored in. We must weigh every option, make all kinds of contingency plans, be prepared to act on all fronts â€“ simultaneously, if need be.
There are at least a million totalitarian Islamists willing to die in order to kill Jews and other infidels; more than a billion of their fellow Muslims have, thus far, refused to challenge and subdue them. These civilian-terrorists, who hide in rat-holes and caves, rooming houses and dormitories, are adept at using our technology and our legal system against us. Israel was in the forefront of fighting Arafatâ€™s kind of terrorism but we are now in the al Qaeda/Hizbullah era. New military, undercover, and propaganda strategies must be adopted.
Many people, including some Jews, accuse Jews of elevating our suffering above that of other groups. They see this as selfish, even racist. In my view, what happens to Israel is a prophecy and a warning to the world about what will happen to all humanity. Perhaps this is one way the Jews are special or â€œchosen.â€ We constitute Godâ€™s holy classroom.
If the world does not stop the jihadists in Israel, if it chooses to sacrifice the Jews once again, it will, soon enough, find itself bombed back to the seventh century and living under Islamic religious law. Several Iranian dissident friends have begged me to explain to them why America has not already stopped Iran. As one distraught dissident put it, the mullahs have already murdered vast numbers of their own countrymen and will stop at nothing to return to a Caliphate. â€œAnd the Jews?â€ he asks. â€œHow can they, of all people, hesitate?â€
If not now, when? If not us, who? The time is now.
Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D., is the author of 13 books including â€œThe New Anti-Semitismâ€ and the forthcoming â€œThe Islamization of America.â€ She is a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press. She may be reached through her website, www.Phyllis-CHesler.com.