Israel is undergoing a major assault, which in its first day was the most horrific in Jewish history since the Holocaust. It’s hard for Israelis to get our heads around this existential war, but even more so for those who aren’t familiar with the geographic implications of our war against Hamas and jihadists in general.
So, picture the elongated shape of N.J., but with the Mediterranean, not the Atlantic Ocean, on one side, Jordan and Syria (think Pennsylvania) on another side, Gaza and Egypt (think Delaware) in the south, and Lebanon (think New York) in the north. Then, what if those surrounding states saw N.J. and its citizens (think Israelis) as a people to be annihilated?
Would N.J. have withstood tens of thousands of rockets fired into it in the last few decades without going to war? Israel has. Unfortunately, numerous governments and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) accepted a certain amount of casualties and damage for decades, with only intermittent operations or mini-wars serving to — supposedly — deter our enemies from a full-scale war. (After our victory over the Islamist barbarians there will be a full-scale investigation and reckoning with our government and military leadership.)
We are now reaping the results of this misbegotten strategy, which exploded in our faces on Oct. 7, our day that will “live in infamy.” The one positive thing that has happened since this calamity is Israelis instantly dropping the rancor which existed for more than a half year among their political and social factions. For example, the largest organization which fought against change in the judicial system turned on a dime and repurposed its huge community to fulfill many needs of the nation at war.
The largest ever call up of reserve forces (former soldiers of one or two previous decades) of 350,000 men and women was oversubscribed by 150%. Many of the Air Force pilots against judicial reform, who had boycotted their extensive drills and had threatened not to serve if a war broke out, instead clamored to serve, exceeding the numbers called up. Even a good number of the ultra Orthodox (Haredim) who, with some exceptions, have reflexively refused to serve in the military have volunteered in various capacities. Not to mention the brave and excellent Haredi emergency medical volunteers who are always on duty.
I don’t know if Westerners in general would have been up to the task that we Israelis are facing. For us, there is no alternative: We have nowhere else to go. If Israel loses one war it will mean our extermination. Could that happen? Israel certainly could find itself on the cusp of that, if Iran manages to galvanize all its proxies and its own redoubtable Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps against Israel.
Israel is wholly engaged in a cataclysm. Israel is fighting for its existence with barbarians who purposefully sacrifice their own civilians, for their own protection. (More than two-thirds of Gaza’s citizens favor Hamas rule. Quite a few more would prefer the Palestinian Authority — the ones that pay top dollar for murdering Israelis.) The worst devastation will come soon when the IDF ground forces search for the many tunnels underneath vast areas of Gazan cities. These tunnels are under churches, mosques, hospitals and schools, where the Hamas commanders hide, for now. Meanwhile, the top Hamas leadership is likely living in plush circumstances primarily in Qatar, but also in European capitals.
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City and lived in Margate until 1991, when he moved to Israel with his family.