Thanks, in part, to the Arab Spring, Israelis take very seriously the need to live in a constant state of preparedness. What if you had a special place, a convenient and secure place set aside in your home? What if in this secure place you had rows of gas masks – some small enough to fit every one of your children? What if you had to carry these with you at all times because your neighbors did not believe that you had the right to even exist? Welcome to Israel. Since the 1990s, when Iraq threatened Israel with chemical weapons, Israel has undertaken, at no small expense, to distribute gas masks to all of its citizens. Over the years, old gas masks have been replaced by new ones. Periodically there are also national blood drives to make certain there is enough blood of every type on hand in the event of an incident.
The latest threat involves Syria. Syria is currently in a very bloody war. It is a well known fact that Syria possesses numerous long range rockets that can strike most parts of Israel. It is also known that Syria possesses chemical and/or biological weapons that can be loaded onto these rockets. This could inflict death on many and cause mass casualties far and wide in this tiny country. The war that Syria is now in risks these weapons getting into the hands of some who would not hesitate to use them on the land of Israel.
It is a well known fact that Israel does not have peaceful borders. It would take very little to trigger an incident. There is the daily threat of someone unleashing a rocket, suicide bombers, border infiltration or numerous other ways to kill and maim as many Israelis as possible. It is the desire of their neighbors to annihilate all Israelis and their efforts to this end could happen at any time. How do Israelis manage to live under such stress day in and day out and still manage to live life to the fullest by celebrating weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, birthdays, holidays, graduations, family vacations and so on? Israelis manage to cope in their pressure cooker environment because they are fiercely proud of their heritage, their land and, most importantly, their faith in the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In the United States and in most countries around the world, we cannot fathom what it is like to live in a state of hyper-vigilance yet Israelis not only live this way, they actually thrive. Think for a moment. Do you pay particular attention if someone’s grocery sack or backpack is left unattended? Maybe, but not for the same reason as an Israeli would. You would probably wonder what item of value was left behind and perhaps even be concerned about helping to find the owner. In Israel, any object left unattended in a public place could reasonably be expected to explode spewing shrapnel in all directions and casting a deadly net of death and destruction. Even so, somehow they cope and press on. When an Israeli wants to get in their car and take a drive, very careful attention must be paid to the exact route so as not to make a wrong turn. One wrong turn could
spell disaster or even death. There are signs along certain highways and roads in Israel warning Israelis that a Palestinian village is located just ahead and that entrance is forbidden to Jews. Imagine that! Because of this, if Israelis want to leave Israel on vacation, their only option is to fly. Unlike in Europe or America, driving is out of the question. Even if they could cross the border in to a neighboring country, death would surely await them. What about those outdoor enthusiasts who want to take a hike in the Judean Hills? This, too, must be carefully mapped out as borders are not clearly marked and one small misstep could spell disaster.
Israelis are the world’s experts in safety and security. They know the art of protection in theory as well as in practice. Right now regular preparedness drills are taking place all over Israel. When warning sirens are activated, people know to get to their safe place. These drills are practiced at different times of the day and even at night. Practice eliminates chaos and confusion. In other words, Israel is prepared.
There are scriptures verses from the Psalms and Proverbs that the Jewish people recite daily – “God has nullified the conspiracy of the nations. He has thwarted the plans of various peoples. Many are the thoughts in the heart of man, but it is the plan of God that endures.” This gives them the strength and courage to face external threats, no matter how dire or how overwhelming the odds. A prayer of my own for Israel is straight from G-d’s Word and it comes from a promise; “L-rd, let no weapon formed against them prosper but, like Haman, may the weapon formed be turned and used to destroy its maker.” G-D BLESS THE LAND OF ISRAEL AND ALL OF ITS PEOPLE.