Israelis claim they don’t think about terrorism and, if so, my hat’s off to them. If I lived there, I’d be quaking in my boots.
Yes, I know one should never project one’s own feelings onto other people, especially those living in extreme circumstances. And I do understand that danger activates protective mechanisms that drip antidotes into the bloodstream.
For example, when I lived in the Soviet Union, I feared arrest for various anti-Soviet activities. But that was a background fear that didn’t really affect my day-to-day life.
The fear was there somewhere, beneath the surface, and it only came up when, say, someone I knew was arrested or imprisoned. But, in the vegetarian early 1970s, such events were relatively rare.
How would I have felt had they happened every day? I probably wouldn’t have displayed the casual, nonchalant courage of today’s Israelis.
For in Israel acts of individual terrorism do happen on most days, with a collective disaster always lurking around the corner. Both the everyday occurrences and the potential for disaster spring from the same source, one that both Dubya and our own Dave have described as a ‘religion of peace’.
Israel is the bulwark of our civilisation faced with the threat of an impassioned Islam. She struggles not only for her own survival, but also for ours, and it’s lamentable that so many in the West fail to realise this.
It’s as if war has been declared, and only one side has shown up. We sit in the relative security of our island, listening to assorted Corbyn clones pontificating on the Palestinians’ plight. That’s what drives Muslims to violence, they claim.
This doesn’t quite explain why most armed conflicts all over the world, from Africa to Timor, from India to Indonesia, from Chechnya to Azerbaijan, have in the post-war years involved Muslims, with nary an Israeli in sight.
Israel may be the focus of Muslim violence but she isn’t its cause. She just happens to be in the forefront and hence in the line of daily fire.
Daily has a slight connotation of once daily, but outbursts of Muslim brutality often come in twos or threes. Yesterday was typical in that respect.
First a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into a group of hitchhikers, injuring four people including a pregnant woman. Then a Palestinian lass stabbed a security guard, a knife being a natural fashion accessory to accompany a hijab.
Both terrorists were shot on the spot, the man fatally, the woman not quite. So far I haven’t read any articles in our press castigating Israelis for wantonly taking the lives of two peaceful Muslims ( I haven’t seen today’s Guardian yet).
However, whenever Israel protects herself with a larger-scale action, there’s wailing and gnashing of teeth all over our newspapers and airwaves.
Our flaming conscience can just about handle, at times, acts of individual self-defence, with only a few people threatened at a time. When the whole nation strikes out to thwart extinction, we throw our hands up in horror.
Look, another bombing raid – how dreadful. Look, another foray into Palestinian territory – how brutal. Look, another peaceful terrorist base razed – how uncivilised.
This gets me back to the beginning, my hopeless attempt to picture myself living in Israel. My imagination has proved insufficiently acute, but perhaps you can do better.
So picture a normal day in Tel Aviv or somewhere near the West Bank or anywhere in Israel. You wake up to reports of multiple rockets fired at your country’s villages by exponents of the religion of peace.
None of them hit your house; you heave a sigh of relief. You go out into the street, not consciously thinking about danger, but inwardly tensing up nonetheless.
Will this black-clad woman plunge a knife into your belly? Will this car swerve into you deliberately? Will your bus be blown up by a bomb? Will your family be kidnapped while you’re out? Will a crazed mullah order a nuclear strike on your country?
Now multiply this day by 365, then by the number of years you’ve been around and imagine how you’d feel. Can you do that? Well, you’re a better man than I am.