May 27, 2007
The War of Extermination ContinuesBy Steve Feldman
Does your chest hurt?
Can you feel it in the pit of your stomach?
Is your heart racing?
Do you feel a sense of helplessness?
I hope so.
I hope all who care about the sanctity of life and the rights of people to be able to live in peace, without the fear of a rocket hitting them, a loved one, their home or their car are upset and feeling ill.
I hope you at least feel something for the people of Sderot, Israel and the nearby communities that have been under missile fire for about a decade; a barrage that has only intensified this month, with hundreds of crude but deadly rockets that have forced all but the bravest or most spiritual of this city, that until recently had 25,000 residents, to flee.
It is May, 2007, and for many Jews in the Jewish state of Israel it must seem more like the Warsaw Ghetto or London circa 1942.
One of the reasons that Israel was re-established in 1948 was to ensure that no Jews would ever have to be subjected to such attacks or live in fear. After all, we were promised, "Never Again!"
Well, I guess someone forgot to tell the Muslims.
The Palestinian-Arabs, joined by Muslims throughout the world, proclaimed that no Jews were allowed to live in an area called the Gaza Strip. It was a barren land that Israelis had made bloom and flourish after 1967 and which Jews have - at minimum - a biblical claim to.
If the Jews left, the Muslims told the Israelis -- with the E.U., U.N. and even the United States agreeing -- the missiles would stop. So in August, 2005, the Israeli government dragged every Jew (including those interred at cemeteries) out of the Gaza Strip and handed that land -lock, stock and barrel - to the Palestinian-Arabs so that they could develop a state of their own and demonstrate that they would be good neighbors.
Yet the rockets have kept coming.
Fired at will into Israel.
When the warning system works, civilians have 20 seconds to find shelter, though unfortified houses, schools and businesses have hardly been a haven.
About a dozen Israelis have been killed by these Kassam rockets, including a32-year-old woman last week, with scores more physically injured and thousands psychologically scarred.
The Palestinian-Arabs lied.
A variety of Palestinian-Arab groups, including the ruling Hamas and the so-called "military-wing" of Fatah, as well as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the aptly named Popular Resistance Committees are variably claiming credit for the missile attacks.
The Palestinian-Arab president, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen to his terrorist pals) of Fatah, who is always described as a peaceful man who abhors terrorism by American officials and a "moderate" by the media, has an army numbering anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 troops at his disposal. They have not lifted a finger to stop the missile attacks aimed at Israeli civilians. In fact, some of them are no doubt responsible for the missile-firing.
Mind you: It is Israeli civilians who are the targets of these barrages, and the missiles are being launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
The Israeli Army, reluctant to send ground forces into the Gaza Strip for a variety of reasons (including warnings not to from the United States, and concern about heavy military casualties from a well-armed and heavily fortified assortment of thousands of Palestinian-Arab terrorists), have tried pinpoint air strikes to try to stem the missile attacks. They have only slowed down the terrorists - who use densely populated civilian areas to launch missiles at Israel.
So it does not seem like the residents of Sderot and its environs will be able to live at ease anytime soon. Meanwhile, other Israelis north of the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon (home to more than 110,000 people, plus chemical plants that store potentially dangerous substances, and major electrical grids) are within missile range and have already tasted a little of what missile barrages can do to the body and spirit.
And of course it was just last summer that the Lebanese terrorist organization Hizballah fired 4,000 missiles at Israel's northern cities and towns, killing more than 100 people.
So, now you know what tens of thousands of Israelis who truly want to live in peace are facing every moment of every day.
You may now return to your comfort zone. If you can.
Steve Feldman is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America's Greater Philadelphia District and host of "The ZOA Middle East Report" radio show.