The Human Spirit: We're off track

We urgently need to have the best minds in the country mobilized to focus on our national security.

barbara sofer 88 (photo credit: )
barbara sofer 88
(photo credit: )
Last week, my daughter-in-law Hadas was finishing class at Sapir College in Sderot when she heard the familiar two-tone electronic audio alert, followed by a recorded woman's voice repeating in Hebrew the words for Color Red. She had 20 seconds to retreat to the library safe room. But the second alarm came when she was on the way to her car, five-month old Naveh, our grandson, in her arms. She threw herself on the ground, covering Naveh with her body, beneath the car, until she heard the Kassam explode not far away. Her car alarm shrieking, she managed to drive home safely. Only later did she notice that her legs wouldn't stop shaking. This is not a normal way to live. On Friday, we received a notice from the US Embassy warning American citizens not to enter the Old City following the terrorist attack. Until footage proved otherwise, the security guards were accused of manufacturing the story and murdering an innocent passerby. Then a terrorist group from within our own Galilee took credit. On Saturday, a truck driver with 190 traffic violations ran over an entire car in which a family was out for a visit to their grandma. The driver claimed he hadn't done anything wrong and when brought to court, cursed his guards. Experts warned that there were thousands of lethal drivers like him on the road. Afterward, the police repeated their hollow promise of greater vigilance on our highways. IN A WEEK of dodging missiles inside an Israeli town, renewed terror in Jerusalem and vagrant driving on our roads, 3,000 of the men and women whose job it is to protect and defend the people of Israel were dispatched to evict two families from a renovated stall in a vacant Hebron market. The families had left the building once, without the need for physical intervention, after allegedly receiving promises from Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan and the Defense Ministry that if they left quietly a legal solution would be found. I've read, listened, discussed and contemplated, but I can't understand how and why the removal of these families by force became a national priority that justified expending this massive, divisive use of police and soldiers. We certainly have no urgent need to prove to the world that Israel has the will to carry out excruciating evacuations. Two years after the disengagement from Gush Katif, what we need is proof that we're capable of creating workable models for those who have been forced to leave their homes. The turmoil still suffered by the evacuees is a national shame, as is the acceptance that daily life in Sderot can include rocket attacks. What insanity has entered our national psyche that accepts as a matter of fact the shelling of our cities? Was the evacuation a warning to hard-liners in Hebron that they can't take action on their own without government approval? I can't imagine that they were very impressed since it took 3,000 police and soldiers to remove two families, including 14 children. By moving citizens from a building in Hebron, were we trying to prove to the Western world that we are a democratic society that abides by law and order? Last week, The New York Times wrote, almost as a side note, that all of Israel beyond what the world considers the 1967 borders is deemed "illegal." Were our Arab neighbors moved that so-called "settlers" were held in check? Read the articles and blogs on the Web that describe this week's action as "one thief removing another." RIGHT, LEFT OR center, you can't easily set aside the Jewish connection to Hebron. Whether you admire or disdain the Israelis who live in Hebron, whether you are among those who believe that living in downtown Hebron is a holy mission or those who believe it's idiocy to sustain a small Jewish community within a huge Arab majority, you had to wince at the photograph that appeared in The Jerusalem Post and on front pages around the world of helmeted police dragging a Jew with sidelocks. Nor, with the numbers of young Israelis who are dropping out of military service rising alarmingly, could potential recruits - no matter their political views - have been motivated by scenes from Hebron. With Kassam attacks on our homeland, terrorists threatening from without and within and lethal drivers on the roads, our police and military have essential work to do. Not to mention the threat of nuclear attack from Iran. One year ago, we went into a war that raised serious questions about our preparedness for new military challenges. No defensive barrier will ever replace an IDF that is made up of devoted soldiers and officers. We're off track. What we need urgently is a draft of the best minds in the country - men and women, secular and religious, Right and Left, veteran Israelis and immigrants, Tel Avivians and Hebronites, hi-tech innovators and yeshiva whizzes - mobilized in a high priority think tank to focus on our national security. As this week's reading from Isaiah urges, "Wake up, wake up, don your strength O Zion..." We will find our strength in the creativity and unity of our people.