When I moved to Israel from New York City in the summer of 2010, I was absorbed
into a small kibbutz in the Negev desert, where I remained for six months to
learn Hebrew and become acclimated to Israeli culture.
Desert life, for
obvious reasons, could not have been more diametrically opposed to my former
big-city lifestyle. In many ways, it was exactly what you’d expect: Profoundly
lonely, ridiculously hot, culturally strange and generally
There was one general store; one (overworked) doctor;
one dining hall; one bar (that served exactly three different sub-par, stale,
bottled beers); one bus stop (that went out of service at 7:30 p.m.) to take
people to the closest city, Beersheba, nearly 50 km. away; and a motley crew of
other new immigrants from around the globe who felt just as displaced as
Comparatively speaking, my new home made the town in Little House on
look cosmopolitan and exciting. Indeed, the charm of desert life
wore off faster than a dose of laughing gas from my former Park Avenue
However, there was one element of Israeli living that no
immigrant could – or should – have to adapt to, or tolerate. Something which in
America was utterly unimaginable: Regular rocket fire from rogue neighbors,
which landed a few miles from my doorstep.
Even more jarring, the rockets
were always aimed at the one-million-plus children, women and men who inhabited
Southern Israel, with Beersheba and the closest coastal communities, Ashdod and
Ashkelon, absorbing most of the onslaught.
I still vividly remember
canceling much-needed beach getaways to Ashkelon because it was busy being bombed
during the afternoons in question.
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AS AN American, when these bombs
were exploding, my first instinct was to wonder how the US would handle a
similar scenario on its soil. For example, if a terrorist group from Canada had
the audacity to fire rockets into towns and cities in upstate New York – or any
other geographic variation of that situation – I knew unequivocally there’d be
hell to pay.
Indeed, there was no doubt in my mind that the international
community and media would focus on such an attack like a laser for weeks and
months, and that the terrorist organization responsible – as well as the area
from where to rockets were fired – would have been swiftly
This, of course, doesn’t take into account the collateral
damage caused by what would unquestionably be a disproportionate retaliation by
the US military – not exactly known for the “surgical precision” it demands of
Israel’s IDF, which is tasked with retaliating against an enemy that uses
children as human shields.
After all, we’re talking about the same
country that preemptively, and proudly, used “shock and awe” – with faulty
intelligence – to decimate a nation nearly 10,000 km. away that hadn’t even
attacked it, after terrorists from another, nearby country destroyed the Twin
Towers, killing thousands of innocent Americans.
When 9/11 took place, US
citizens – myself included – were consumed with a raw, incandescent rage of a
type I imagine had not been felt since Pearl Harbor. As a nation we needed to
retaliate in a way that would leave no question as to our collective outrage,
might and message that an attack on American soil was verboten – world opinion
Someone was going to pay dearly for having the temerity to
target and kill our civilians, and it couldn’t have happened soon enough. This
was America, for God’s sake! We didn’t take fire, we gave it!
We all know how
HOWEVER, WHEN those rockets landed in Southern Israel – aimed
at its million-plus children, women and men – it barely registered a blip on the
international media’s radar. The silence of the international community was
maddeningly deafening to me, and every other Israeli.
It was just
business as usual in sunny old Israel.
But here’s the thing: As an
American – raised to believe that an attack against one democracy is an attack
democracies – I was just as outraged as if the rockets had landed
near my childhood home.
Why should it feel any different?
And lest anyone think
these attacks are confined to the South, think again. Last March, I had the
dubious distinction of covering a terrorist attack for the Post
– less than 2
km. from my office in central Jerusalem – that killed a British tourist and
injured dozens. When I wasn’t interviewing traumatized children and women, I was
sidestepping trails of blood that lined the sidewalks.
And this isn’t
taking into account the second intifada, during which bombs were going off in
virtually every location the terrorists knew attracted the most
You can imagine my disgust at the absurd, humiliating and
inhumanely egregious double standard Israel is continually forced to
OVER THE past two weeks, over 300 rockets
fired by homicidal
terrorists have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Southern Israel. The
onslaught is ostensibly retaliation for the targeted killings of two Hamas
leaders, who actively planned to carry out attacks against Israeli
This, compounded by a nation run by psychopaths that is
unquestionably attempting to create a nuclear warhead to finally follow through
with its repeatedly stated objective of eviscerating Israel, has exacerbated the
outrageous hypocrisy that America’s only ally in the Middle East is subjected
It must be nice to dictate foreign policy – thousands of kilometers
out of harm’s way – to one’s sole ally in the most hostile region in the world,
surrounded by dictatorships and theocracies hell-bent on annihilating
However, if the equation was inverted, it would be unthinkable, even
laughable. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what we Jews call
As US President Barack Obama (whom I voted for in the last
election) and now British Prime Minister David Cameron beseech Israel to show
restraint against Iran, I cannot help but wonder how the US or UK would handle a
similar existential threat. But the truth is I know exactly how they would
handle it. And it would in no way, shape or form mirror what is being asked of this
I AM a proud American-Israeli, and was raised in the US to
understand in no uncertain terms the importance of American freedom – and
defending it at all
costs – in a world marred by evil dictatorships determined
to take that freedom away and recreate dystopias in their own demented
Indeed, it is America’s staunch refusal to ever let that happen
that still makes it a truly great nation.
So, here’s my question to Obama
– and any other Western power that implores Israel to show restraint in its
existential crisis: Why should Israel be any less great in this respect?
children and society any less valuable than yours? firstname.lastname@example.org
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