Israel will always be the homeland of the Jews, but it is not yet a safe haven for Jews. Not with recurrent intifadas and terrorist attacks targeting Israel's Jews at the whim of their fanatical foes.
We would like to think of Israel as Jewry's refuge, but that would take a kind of leadership unseen since the days of Begin and Ben-Gurion. Better yet, since the days of Bar Kokhba, Judah Maccabee, David, Samuel, Gideon, or Joshua.
The reason so many Jews linger in the Diaspora seven decades after the rebirth of the Jewish commonwealth is identical with the reason so many native Israelis emigrate and park themselves in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Toronto: the State of Israel has time and again proven itself incapable of providing security to its Jews.
Until Jews can safely walk the streets, ride the buses, drive the highways, and dwell in communities anywhere in the Land of Israel with not only peace but, almost more importantly, peace of mind, then the State of Israel remains a prohibitive risk.
As far as aleatory elements go, many Jews are willing to immigrate to Israel without guaranteed employment and despite the financial hardships involved in Aliyah, but many more are unwilling to even entertain the prospect without the certainty of safety. In the absence of confidence, without a surer sense of their personal well-being, most Jews the world over will not budge. No seducements by the State or the Jewish Agency for Israel will be able to actuate and dynamize individuals - either to come or to remain - who reasonably fear for their lives and tire of the interminable conflict. Jews, to their credit, continue to Choose Life.
For too many Jews, understandably but regrettably, choosing life means avoiding Israel. For this, Israel is largely responsible.
Yet the dissuasive scenario can be overcome. Impressions can be overturned. The missing ingredients include: common sense, self-respect, integrity of identity, maturity, and action. Action above all.
This means, for example, that when implacable enemies afflict an orderly society with convulsing upheavals, the response cannot be nugatory but instead swift and thorough. If Israel exists in a perpetual state of war, then laws must exist which enable its leaders, defense forces, and even civilians to act with expansive powers according to circumstantial exigencies.
No country can endure an unremitting throe of terrorism. No state, no society, can or should bear a prolonged and indefinite period of agonal strife in which its civilians are marked for death while its elected leaders twiddle their thumbs. Such a brutal anomie only deconditions the nation's reason for being and erodes its will to survive. It turns innocent individuals into fodder, unsettles then numbs survivors, and cheapens life by making premature, violent death seem ultimately inevitable...though it most definitely is not.
One thing Israel has gotten right recently is the loosening of restrictions on civilian firearms and the at least tacit encouragement of private self-defense training. Since every Jewish Israeli is a target, every Jewish Israeli should aim to be his or her own personal Iron Dome. If any Muslim Arab is capable of turning terrorist, then any Jewish Israeli must likewise be capable of turning counterterrorist.
Vigilantism in immediate self-defense is not extrajudicial; self-defense is universally lawful. Unpleasant as it is to contemplate, and hard as it may be for gentler temperaments to admit (and it is the mildest among us who are naturally most susceptible to victimization by terrorists who purposely prey on the vulnerable), there is a time and place even for summary justice and, if anywhere, it is in the streets and public spaces of a terrorism-menaced democracy slowly being bled to death.
Terrorists who set out to murder and wreak havoc need to know that they will be met with a populace alert, prepared, and steadfast.
These are not mere misdemeanants assailing Israel and democracies around the globe, but vicious barbarians who fundamentally renounce their inherent humanity to become bloodthirsty monsters, who outright reject the premise of living inter alios and who disallow alterity altogether.
With a strong hand and an outstretched arm should life-affirming societies counter such brainless savagery, whether or not in so doing they are internationally commended or condemned.
By tapping into the heartening residuum of brave forebears, by marshaling the will and setting aside false obstacles both political and psychological, Israelis can redefine their reality and remedy the present perilous situation. Protecting civilians from the ever-present threat of physical harm is the primary duty of Israel and Israelis alike.
If this means revoking citizenship, residency permits, or work permits, that's what it means. If this means expelling terrorists' immediate kin, that's what it means. If this means imposing mandatory self-defense and firearms training for all Israeli Jews - men and women - aged 15-75, that's what it means (many if not most Israelis will already possess this from their prior IDF service or similar). Increasingly drastic circumstances call for increasingly drastic tactics. Defeating continuous terrorism demands continuous counterterrorism that stays one step ahead, acting strategically, not reacting ad hoc.
Democracies must defend themselves in states of emergency. Those that do not have always - in ages classical and modern - been overborne by the tide of terror and war inflicted upon them by aggressors of greater determination. This need not be the tragic fate of Israel, nor of an increasing number of nations similarly afflicted.
The possibility of light remains for those committed to tackling dark forces head on so as to preserve a more enlightened way of life. Before anything else, Choosing Life means Choosing to Safeguard the Lives of All Who Cherish Life.