The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Ron is a former strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.
Rocket attacks and Snow days
As a kid growing up on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, snow days were special events that we waited for all winter long. As kids we would rejoice, while our parents would be stuck at home worrying about not being able to get to work for a day or two. For the past two days, rocket and missile attacks from the Gaza Strip have resumed with over 250 rocket attacks on the State of Israel by the Islamic Jihad, an Islamic Palestinian terror organization funded and directed by Iran.
With over 90% of the rockets and missiles fired against Israel being intercepted in midair by Israel’s multi-level anti-missile air defense systems with the rest landing in open fields, Islamic Jihad has little to show for their lethal intentions in releasing over 250 rockets and missiles against the cities and villages of Israel. For most Israelis, the past two days have been nothing more than snow day type festivals with children and parents being confined to their homes or the homes of their neighbors and enjoying a break from their school and work routine.
This morning I heard on the 8 o’clock news show that the most horrendous reaction that they could report on was that in the whole City of Tel-Aviv you couldn’t find a good falafel stand open in the evening due to the “situation”, or to report and help the young couple whose wedding hall was temporarily closed. With no civilians killed or wounded to report, although anxiety and stress are present, just downplayed, the security situation has been treated as nothing more than a “snow day” event. To be honest, a reporter in a national paper did report that he found a McDonalds open on the road to Jerusalem and that he found himself relaxing with a BigMac beneath the Golden Arches.
Is this a new kind of war that Israel has perfected? Nothing more than “snow day” security events that can be tolerated by the Israeli public so as not to rattle and shake the fragile strategic situation against Iran that is always in the background waiting to be unleased?. Have Israelis become so strong and resilient that they can withstand the repetitive effects of what would be considered everywhere else in the Western world as a war? Has the Israeli public started to accept the missile and rocket threat by Palestinian terror organizations as a “force majeure” and simply live with it as we do with road accidents, or as with lightning?
The punch line is what Israel’s left/progressive political parties and their media cronies, whether broadcasted or through the internet, have refused to admit, refused to acknowledge:
Israel’s political landscape has been for the past 25 years divided between the political parties who represent the leftist/progressive “peace camp,” those who brought about the two strategic colossal blunders that created the current “snow day” mentality - and the opponents of the “peace camp” mentality, the center-right party Likud, and other right-wing political parties. The political parties of the left, those who represent the so-called peace camp gave us unapologetically and with zero remorse, the Oslo Agreement of 1993 and the Disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
I would like to remind us all that during the mid-90’s and up to the year 2003, in which suicide bombers were executing terror attacks at times at a rate of two per day, every effort was made to enable the public to continue functioning and maintain a “normal routine”. Municipalities became disaster site clean-up experts, within hours after a terror attack clean-up crews would erase any indication of what transpired only hours earlier. The Israeli public was encouraged to get up the following morning and go to work, under the banner of “we must continue on” or “we can’t let the terror win” and so forth.
For a number of years this situation continued, leading to over 1000 Israeli deaths. Israelis were encouraged to adopt a pathological resiliency capability leading to a “snow day” mindset that did nothing more than enable and encourage today’s political inheritors of the “peace camp” to their seeming indifference to the ongoing and destructive suffering of whole population groups. Worst of all; it led to a political culture that inhibited true political change that would have been mandated in a similar situation among other Western nations.
Without hesitation, the “peace camp” political parties continued down their slippery slope and gave us the Disengagement of 2005. For those of us who have a short memory, prior to 2005, a missile and rocket threat from the Gaza Strip did not exist. It is only after the forced transfer of the Gush Katif Jewish communities and the complete withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from the Gaza Strip to their current positions, that the Palestinian terror organizations began to develop their missile and rocket capabilities, now with a range threatening all of the State of Israel.
As we look back on almost two decades of unprecedented rocket terror on Israel, we the citizens of Israel must ask ourselves whether or not we want to continue and pay the price of being complacent and living with “snow day” mindset- of allowing our political leaders to use our national resiliency, our ability to be strong, as an excuse to postpone ending the rocket and missile threat on Israel once and for all. The Israeli public doesn’t have to surrender to missile and rocket terror as a “force majeure" meaning that they have every right and duty to demand that the national political leadership provide peace and tranquility and most important, that it act.
The Betrayal of Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel’s election results have yet to determine who will emerge as Prime Minister, yet when hearing the political pundits, the leading columnists, and the left and center left political parties, the only message that is conveyed is that the Netanyahu era is over and that Israel must choose a new political leadership. One widely read national columnist even smugly predicated that the Netanyahu era has ended and that his “magic” has dissipated.
Despite the deadlocked election results, in which the Likud Party and Prime Minister Netanyahu have yet to create a clear path to claiming victory, critics have no hesitancy in denying the unprecedented success of Netanyahu’s policies that have resulted in a booming economy as never before: near-record-low unemployment, a record number of Israelis working including unprecedented Israeli Arab and Ultra-Orthodox employment participation, increases in workers' wages and family incomes, low interest rates, low inflation, steady GDP growth and a strong stock market. In poll after poll, Israeli’s have expressed a very high life satisfaction rating and rate their standard of living highly. Israel’s strategic military standing has never been stronger and the emerging Israeli-Sunni alliance is changing the face of the Middle East and creating a true possibility of peace between Israeli and the Muslim Sunni nations.
Yet the real source of why Benjamin Netanyahu is despised, demonized, and the subject of incessant and never ending primal hatred is due to his desire to pushback -- politically, socially, economically and culturally -- against what might be called the elite postmodern progressive world, in other words, the “Old Guard”. These progressive political and economic interests have never accepted their ouster by the voting public and will do everything in their power to claw back and get their greedy hands on the budgetary spigot and political control of the country. These old guard political and economic powers have been able to create an immense tsunami of false anti-Netanyahu accusations. The broadcasted and digital media have been willingly enlisted to be nonpartisan and impartial in their effort to rid Israel of Netanyahu, given his danger to the progressive liberal future. The anti-Netanyahu campaign has been largely effective and many of these false accusations have stuck creating a dissonance between expected voting patterns and the actual election results.
The electoral betrayal of Netanyahu has been a national phenomenon, yet the population group most visible in crossing the political lines has been the Jewish Ethiopian community in Israel. These seemingly distant strangers in every way, different even in the color of their skin, have over the past 30 plus years been brought to Israel, not to be forced into servitude as in other periods of human history when blacks where shipped to faraway lands only to become slaves. In fact, there are no other examples of similar acts of kindness in human history that can compare to what Israel has done for the far away Jews of Ethiopia by bringing them over, 140,000 in number today, back to their ancestral homeland. Never in human history has there been a similar act of benevolence towards a whole community by a developed nation. Since the 1980’s, despite the immense dangers, the religious obstacles, the logistical impossibilities, the cultural barriers; Israel has brought tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from one of the most underdeveloped countries on the globe to the shores of the Promised Land.
During the last election cycle, many young activists of the Ethiopian community have been given monetary (jobs) and organizational support by left wing NGO’s from Israel, Europe and the United States to promote an anti-Israel and anti-Netanyahu agenda abetted by local left wing activists who have their origins in the anti-Netanyahu political alliance and has resulted in the following narrative being portrayed as a factual backdrop to the abandonment of Netanyahu by the Jewish Ethiopian community:
Longstanding Israeli policy is notoriously racist – worse than South African apartheid according to observers familiar with both systems. Palestinians face ruthless persecution in a nation affording rights to privileged Jews alone. They have virtually none whatever. Ethiopian Jews fare no better – unwanted because they’re black. Citizenship doesn’t matter. Persecuting them is standard Israeli practice.”
This unholy alliance of many of the Ethiopian community leaders/activists and left wing radicals threatens to undermine the notable progress that the Ethiopian community has made by successfully integrating into Israeli society. Over the last decade, during the Netanyahu administrations; Israeli governmental agencies, the Jewish Agency, the Federation system, and many tens of NGO’s have funded hundreds of programs for every age group within the Ethiopian Jewish community with only one goal, making their integration into Israeli society accessible and possible; all this during the Netanyahu era. Despite the gaps in education, technology, culture, and vocational skills only a generation ago, their integration into Israeli society is in actuality a real success story. The messages and prepared statements that are conveyed by many of these self-appointed Ethiopian community leaders/activists are nothing more than a conglomeration of anti-white racism and the anti-Netanyahu political propaganda with the goal of creating a political abandonment by the Jewish Ethiopian community of Benjamin Netanyahu.
The defamation of Benjamin Netanyahu and the false narrative conveyed to the Jewish Ethiopian community cannot and should not be based on random examples of discrimination and prejudice against Ethiopian Israelis. There is no institutionalized discrimination and racism in Israel, and claiming so is not only a moral disgrace but intellectually dishonest. The betrayal and abandonment of Benjamin Netanyahu by the Jewish Ethiopian community has contributed to the deadlocked election results yet is only one piece in the larger political landscape in Israel where the political discourse has become a vulgar and personal crusade to destroy the political legacy of one of Israel’s greatest leaders. The vulnerability of the Jewish Ethiopian community should not be used cynically by the progressive anti-Netanyahu alliance who themselves have a highly questionable history of racist policies adopted during the period when hundreds of thousands of Jews fled the Muslim nations of the Middle East during Israel’s formative years.
Benjamin Netanyahu will most likely emerge as the only politician able to create a coalition that will end Israel’s political deadlock. The Jewish Ethiopian community as well as other sectarian groups would be wise to rehabilitate their relationship with the ruling Likud Party and their leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel needs Netanyahu more than Netanyahu needs Israel
In trying to understand Israel’s impending elections on Tuesday, September 17th, the second national election in the short period of six months, I can say with certainty that Benjamin Netanyahu will be asked once again by Israel’s President Rivlin to form the next government. Not the 24/7 media onslaught demonizing Netanyahu’s character and his family, his lifestyle, alleged corruption charges, his coalition bickering, nor the partisan media driven reflex to blame Netanyahu for everything wrong in Israel will change this prediction.
As Israel’s former U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren said, “Our economy is excellent, our foreign relations were never better, and we’re secure … we know him, the world knows him – even our enemies know him.” After 71 years of Wars, Terror, Economic hardships, and being a pariah nation among the nations of the world, Prime Minister has given the citizens of Israel what they lack the most, stability and a sense of normalcy. Prime Minister Netanyahu stands out as a true Statesman and world class political leader enjoying superior relations with President Trump, President Putin, and other heads of nations throughout the world. Netanyahu has forged strategic alliances with a majority of the Muslim Sunni nations of the Middle East while transforming Israel into a regional superpower militarily and economically. This is what will enable Netanyahu to be re-elected and continue leading Israel in the foreseeable future. The citizens of Israel want a steady hand at the wheel, and will not relinquish this hard earned stability in their lives recklessly. Politically speaking, Netanyahu has been a “master craftsman” knowing what the Israeli electorate needs and wants, and above all he has been an incredibly effective political leader.
In today’s Israel, Netanyahu is perceived as a pragmatic leader who knows the horrors of war and will do the utmost to prevent the outbreak of war unless absolutely necessary. Netanyahu has successfully kept Israel’s deterrence intact enabling the Israel Defense Forces to execute thousands of aerial attacks on Iranian installations, Iranian proxy militants and military forces in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, and the list goes on. The implications of Israel’s being a relatively safe environment to live and raise families has given Israeli’s a hard earned sense of stability and normalcy.
Netanyahu is a believer in the free market and has put in place economic policies that have increased the standard of living to a level unseen before. Israel has attracted without exception all of the world’s largest technological companies to set up shop in Israel paying salaries that would put Silicon Valley to shame. You can buy almost anything in Israel, a large part of the population are home owners including among the Israeli Arab and Ultra-Orthodox communities. Most Israeli’s fly abroad to vacation a number of times a year with the Israeli Shekel being the strongest currency in the world against the American dollar. Israel has become a world leader in technology, food production, agricultural irrigation, Cyber Security, water purification, and the list goes on.
Beyond all the indisputable facts and accomplishments of Benjamin Netanyahu listed above, what his main political opponents, from center-left and left wing party’s’ seem to miss or purposely chose to ignore is the single most important reason that will ensure Netanyahu’s re-election; lingering traumatic memories of the Oslo Agreement period and the ensuing campaigns of Palestinian terror causing carnage and death on the streets of Israeli cities.
The Oslo Agreement, also known as the Oslo Accords, was an agreement signed between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on September 13, 1993, meant to effectively bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its end by means of territorial concessions and facilitating the creation of the Palestinian Authority. The Oslo Accord was negotiated and signed by Israel’s center left and left wing political parties with the unwavering and enthusiastic support of the Israeli media. From its very inception the Oslo Accords resulted in an uptick in Palestinian terror leading to the unprecedented terror campaign of suicide bombers against the citizens of Israel between the years 1995-2004.
No single War or event during Israel’s 71 years of existence has shaped Israel’s political landscape like the wave of suicide bombers carried out by Palestinian Arab terrorists enjoying the full support of their families, clans, and villages. During this period thousands of Israeli’s were killed or wounded. Buses would explode killing tens of passengers sometime twice a day and on the same bus lines in Jerusalem. The streets of Tel-Aviv became killing fields with the the Dizengoff Center suicide bombing (also Purim massacre) being the most notorious event. On March 4, 1996 on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Purim the Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside Dizengoff Center in downtown Tel Aviv, killing 13 Israelis and wounding 130 more. The attack was the fourth suicide bombing in Israel in nine days, bringing the death toll during that span to over 60 killed.
Then and now, the success of Netanyahu and his re-election over the years is in the aftermath of that traumatic period and every election since has been held in the shadow of the Oslo period. Netanyahu’s political longevity is driven by the simple fact that enough Israelis believe they couldn’t live without him and that Israel needs Netanyahu more than Netanyahu needs Israel.
American Jewry in total denial
Not a day goes by without Jews being shot in their synagogues, stabbed, bludgeoned by blocks, physically attacked, pushed to the ground, spat on, cursed, graffiti on the walls of Jewish institutions, graffiti on the walls of synagogues; victims killed, maimed for life, traumatized, hospitalized, extended rehabilitation and the list goes on and on. Pittsburg, Ohio, California, Brooklyn, Great Neck, and the list of locations goes on and on. Older Chassidic Jews, young orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews, non-affiliated Jews; they are all targeted irrespective of their level of Jewishness, irrespective of whether they look or act Jewish; they are preyed upon only because they are Jews. The daily incidents now pass without much notice, a steady, and acceptable level of violence and hate targeting Jewish people anywhere and everywhere is seemingly quietly condoned and accepted as a daily fact of American life.
Where are the powerful Jewish American organizations that are always at the forefront of helping others; Women’s March, Me Too, Black lives Matter, Gays, Latinos, Southern Border, and the list goes on and on. We Jews are always there to be the first to extend a helping hand. Donate funds, arrange media attention, pull strings with politicians, enlist leading newspapers, and the list goes on and on.
Yet when it comes to defending American Jews against the spiraling epidemic of physically violent anti-Semitic attacks against Jews, there is a deafening silence. Jewish organizations which were built for the precise purpose of navigating times like these are to a large extent inadequate, unresponsive, and restrained as if they do not want to rock the boat, as if they are careful not to demand accountability from those that are entrusted to protect us. Too many of these Jewish organizations are operating with a myopic moral compass that guides their largely pathetic indifference. They deny the urgency of the clear and present danger that threaten the wellbeing of American Jews.
Sadly, we the Jewish people are complicit in our own victimhood, making excuses for, and throwing in our lot with the Democratic half of the political system who proudly parade Muslim Congresswomen espousing anti-Semitic poison disguised as progressivism. American Jewry proudly stands on the same stage with Tliab and Omar providing them support and encouragement as they demonize and slander the State of Israel. American Jews have subcontracted their expectation of personal and communal safety to anti-Semitic Democratic politicians who cynically and casually reap political benefits despite their incessant and calculated use of anti-Semitic tropes since being elected. Even New York’s Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio promised this past June to immediately open an office devoted to combatting anti-Semitism; three months later and uncounted anti-Jewish hate crimes later, nothing has really happened other than a couple of Tweets and press releases. As far as I can assess, Tweets have yet to stop a single attack.
American Jewry being so closely associated with the Democratic Party seems to suffer from perpetual numbness. It seems as if almost no one in the Democratic Party will stand up for American Jews despite the obligatory calls for tolerance, yet the lack of any real action is clearly missing and not a part of the public discourse concerning the epidemic of anti-Semitic attacks throughout America. It seems that it is much easier to be vocally outraged over accusations of disloyalty rather than to demand of the Democratic Party to take a clear stand against anti-Semitic politicians among their ranks and do something about it. It seems as if American Jewry and the communal organizations are complicit in their own humiliations, making excuses and exonerating the very political forces that are empowering violent anti-Semitic attacks by members of the Muslim community and Black Americans often bombarded and inundated by social media references to statements and actions by Democratic politicians such as Tliab and Omar.
Many will claim that this situation is not unique and that throughout Jewish history there have always been members of the tribe who undermined the survival of the Jewish people. American Jewry is undergoing a serious crisis despite the pervasive denial everywhere. Large Jewish communities that were fully assimilated pillars in their respective countries throughout Europe are now no more than memories and memorials. The role of a Jewish minority vocally and visibly at the forefront occupying a disproportionate role in an increasingly toxic political atmosphere always supporting the party that humiliates American Jewry the most is weakening the very Jews that they claim to represent. Their inept defense of and abdication of personal safety of American Jews is a foregone conclusion. Slowly but surely, this support and identification with the Democratic Party has transformed American Jews to be seen as isolated and defenseless in the eyes of anti-Semites, many living their lives on the threshold of crossing the line and physically attacking at random American Jews.
Denial can be understood to be a mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. American Jewry is at the crossroads and must reassess with whom they can count on to ensure the continuation of Jewish communal life in America. Associating with true political allies rather than with those politicians that take American Jewish support for granted should be the first step in a long process of reevaluating of how American Jewry deals with the denial that is blinding their ability to defend American Jewry.