Illustration: Israeli F-15 fighter jet (Moshe Milner/Government Press Office of Israel)
In the last few days I have been listening to the constant and dramatic chatter on the radio as "the situation" flares up once again in Gaza — here we go again.
This round was ticked off by an Israeli special ops reconnaissance incursion that seemingly went wrong. A lieutenant colonel was killed and another officer was wounded before the remaining force was extricated under very heavy cover fire. It sounds like a mission a thousand miles away behind enemy lines, like a scene from "Black Hawk Down” — but this furious clash took place a few hundred feet inside of Gaza.
Remember Gaza? The part of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) that Israel gave 90% of to Yasser Arafat in 1994 as part of the “Gaza and Jericho first" deal.
This was the opening stage of the greater "Land for Peace" strategy presented by our "best and brightest": then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (who promised “no Katyushas” from Gaza) and then Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres (who scoffed "Kassams - shmassams”).
Despite the menacing presence of Arafat and his armed terrorists — or "peace partners" if you saw "the big picture,” as we were told — 10,000 Jewish pioneers living in Gush Katif did not flee.
They redoubled their efforts in making the desert bloom with amazing results. Their children had to travel in armored school buses. Mortar rounds landed everywhere and at any time — yet they stayed. They believed that they were the flak jackets for the rest of the country.
They drew the attention and the fire which allowed Jewish communities just outside Gaza to be at peace — the same Leftist communities that were largely solid supporters of the idea of bringing Arafat into Gaza, and did not show much concern about Jews being targeted in places "they should not have been in in the first place." It seemed to be happening on another planet, and not just a few hundred yards away.
Those who stubbornly clung to beloved Eretz Yisrael and refused to let Arafat it paid a heavy price. Their cemeteries began to receive their young and old, while the Israeli government viewed them as a nuisance and an obstacle to making “peace.”
In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government surprised all by deciding to give the rest of Gaza to the terrorists, and thus finally bring “peace and quiet.” Sharon also promised there would be no rockets fired from Gaza. It was too much of a burden on the IDF to protect the Jews there, he said, and so they were forcefully expelled; Gaza became Judenrein.
Since then, the IDF has had to concentrate twenty times larger forces on the Gaza border, as tens of thousands of Hamas rockets rain down on millions of Israelis, and as tunnels pop up under Israeli homes in order to kill and abduct.
An anti-tank missile fired by Gazan terrorists destroyed an IDF bus on the border on Monday; one young soldier was critically wounded. When did they get these weapons? Not when we were there.
The communities that serenely watched 10,000 Jews dragged from their homes in Gaza a few years ago now spend countless nights in bomb shelters. Roughly half of the Negev’s crops and forests have recently been lit aflame by Gazan terrorists.
Hamas plays us like a yo-yo — they, and only they, decide when things will heat up. We run to shelters, we react.
Thousands of supply trucks are sent in daily, even during the latest barrage. Millions of dollars in cash are delivered, including $15 million from Qatar that was let in by Israel mere days before the flare-up. Electricity and water are supplied by us.
What would Winston Churchill have said about this strategy vis-a-vis a sworn enemy? But that is exactly the problem — we refuse to treat our sworn enemies as real enemies. For their part, they are engaged in a total and relentless war against us. Israel sees it as a "situation"; we are afraid of the “W” word: “war.”
We call them on the phone to warn them before we target them. After all, someone just might get hurt, and that would look horrible on CNN. War, real war, might mean actually having to defeat them. And then what would we do?
We might have to declare that Eretz Yisrael is actually ours, and is not a stack of bartering chips to be traded in an illusionary political deal of continuing appeasement.
Until we have the courage to admit our horrible mistakes and deal with our enemies as just that, the yo-yo is in their hands.
Contact Shalom Pollack, veteran licensed tour guide, for upcoming tours at Shalom Pollack Tours: Personalized Tours in Israel. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.