The new front

No longer is it air force against air force, infantry and battalions of armies pitted against each other.

By
April 25, 2018 22:43
2 minute read.
Firemen cover a victim of an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in

Firemen cover a victim of an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto's northern suburbs, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 23, 2018. (photo credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)

 
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The international “Theater of Terror” gradually opens its curtains, and spreads like cancer into the capitals and cities of the Middle East, Europe and the United States. This “theater” searches for stages upon which to create fear, terror, casualties, tension and stress. It aspires to scatter destruction and panic, to distribute its beliefs and to intimidate civilians, corporations, local authorities and governments.

Mayors were unwillingly pulled into this arena, together with their citizens – men, women and children.

The new reality in which the Islamic and other types of terrorism are enhanced and expanded challenges the traditionally acceptable order. Armies would battle armies, while civilians remained at home and sat in bomb shelters, encouraged the fighters at the front and remained resilient until the battle was over.

However, this equation has unequivocally changed.

The home front has now become the front, and civilians have become soldiers without uniforms. Such is the case in London, New York, Paris and Toulouse, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Brussels and any other place in which the serpent head of terrorism can arise and attack mercilessly, in order to achieve its desired aims: media exposure, blood and fear.

As chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, and as the mayor of Modi’in-Maccabim- Re’ut – a city positioned midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – I am now aware, as are my peers, of the tremendous change in the nature of warfare.

No longer is it air force against air force, infantry and battalions of armies pitted against each other; but rather missiles fired upon civilians in the cities, or terrorist cells seeking civilian death tolls.

Such a reality turns local governments and mayors into core entities in building national resilience and leadership during emergencies and national security crises. The mayor, as a leader, must develop the skills to motivate citizens, to calm them, to be consistent and reliable, and to present to the public crucial information, identify and manage crises, think outside the box, and maintain strong connections to national government as well as military and public security authorities.

The mayor understands that if his citizens are “soldiers without uniforms” manning the “new front,” he himself is as a general without uniform. His actions and behavior will influence the battle outcome – measured not only by military accomplishments or casualties, but also in the realms of media and public opinion.

My friends and I, the mayors of Israel, are well aware of the magnitude of this challenge, and unfortunately very experienced with it. There is almost no city in Israel which has not suffered from missile attacks in the war against terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, or faced direct terrorist attacks.

We constantly prepare, train and coordinate expectations with our citizens. We also pray three times a day – which Judaism prescribes – for the best, while preparing for the worst.

I believe that these global issues which concern mayors across the US, Europe and the Middle East, require global solutions in collaboration with national and local governments. We in Israel are willing to share the knowledge and experience we have acquired with any authority across the world that is aware of the magnitude of this danger, and to join forces in the war on terrorism and on those radical forces that threaten the well being of our citizens.

The author is chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel and mayor of Modi’in-Maccabim- Re’ut.

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