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22.11.2014
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Ruthie Blum

Israel, not Gaza, is under siege

On Monday morning, I met with the editor of a New York newspaper.ı

ı"Isn't it hard being away from Israel right now, with all that's going on?" he asked, ıreferring to Thursday night's abduction of three teenagers -- Naftali ıFrenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 -- who were on their way home for the weekend from yeshivas ıthey attend in Gush Etzion and Hebron.ı

"Yes," I said. "But there is always something critical happening there."ı

Indeed, I have yet to visit my family in the United States without either leaving behind, ıor greeting upon my arrival, a worrisome event that is dominating the news in Israel. And ımy first response, like that of all Israeli parents, is to locate each of my children to make ısure they are safe, or to find out whether they have been called up for reserve duty.ı

This is not simply a function of Jewish motherhood, however. It is not due to hysteria ıover the ills that might befall our offspring. No, this is not how we Israelis live at all. If ıanything, we are experts at compartmentalizing danger, clucking our tongues at existential ıcrises, while fretting over grocery shopping and bad-hair days.ı

Until something horrific happens to snap us out of our stupor, that is. Like the kidnapping ıof "our" boys at the hands of bloodthirsty terrorists. It is then that we turn off the soccer ımatches on TV and gather together to cry with and pray for the victimized families, fully ıaware that they could be us, that the only thing differentiating them from us is an ıaccident of fate.ı

It is during such moments that reality hits home, yet again: Israel is under enemy attack, ıas it has been since its inception.ı

This fact is continually obfuscated, however, both unwittingly and on purpose. The ıformer is understandable. Israeli democracy is among the most vibrant and successful in ıthe world. In spite of glitches that would be called "growing pains" in any ıother fledgling state established a mere 66 years ago, it has a viable economy, a passable ıeducation system, reasonable health care, a vigilant legal system, a free press, and ıattention to social justice. It absorbs massive amounts of legal immigrants, and contends, ıas humanely as possible, with the illegal ones.ı

Moreover, it is acknowledged globally as the "startup nation," and has produced Nobel ıPrize winners, international supermodels, beauty queens, movie stars, artists and ıfilmmakers. ı

As a result, it does not have the general feel of an embattled country. And even well-ıinformed well-wishers, whether citizens or visitors, are capable of temporarily forgetting ıthat Israel is fighting an ongoing defensive war for its survival.ı

For detractors, on the other hand, the miraculous nature of Israeli society provides a ıdifferent kind of opportunity altogether, one that serves to "prove" that the Jewish ıstate is flourishing at the expense of the Arabs living under Palestinian Authority rule in ıJudea and Samaria (the West Bank), and under Hamas in Gaza.ı

It is as irrelevant to these detractors as it is to the Arabs whose propaganda they promote ıthat their positions have been refuted repeatedly. It is of no interest to them that the ıpremise on which they base their hostility -- that the Israeli "occupation" of territories it ıacquired in the Six-Day War of 1967 is the source of the Palestinian plight and the cause of ıPalestinian terrorism -- is a complete and utter lie. ı

All one has to do is peruse the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas charters, ıview the content of the PA-controlled newspapers and television and witness the ıbehavior of what has just become a unity PA-Hamas government to realize that the ıexpress goal of the Palestinian leadership (if not the majority of the people) is the ıannihilation of the Jewish state.ı

This has not prevented incessant peace overtures on the part of each and every Israeli ıgovernment, which have included settlement freezes, territorial withdrawals, prisoner ıreleases and hefty financial and other forms of aid, compounded exponentially by the ıinternational community.ı

The most recent of such endeavors began with American pressure, continued with Israeli ıconcessions and ended, as always, with Palestinian violence, culminating in the ıkidnapping of three innocent boys.ı

Their poor parents are forced to endure an unimaginable nightmare: not knowing whether ıtheir sons are dead, yet bemoaning what they must be going through if they are alive.ı

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has no sympathy for the boys or their parents. He is too ıbusy blaming Israel for arresting suspects and retaliating against ongoing barrages of ımissile fire from Gaza.ı

In a statement released to the PA news agency WAFA on Monday, Abbas "condemned ıthe latest escalations in the West Bank, including the kidnapping of three Israeli settlers ıand the ongoing series of violations by Israeli soldiers and settlers against innocent ıPalestinian civilians and against prisoners held in Israeli jails."ı

Abbas' vile words came four days after the abduction of the teens, but only a single day ıafter his wife, Amina, was released from her private room at the Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv. It was there that she was sent by her Israel-hating husband to have knee ısurgery performed by Israeli doctors. She was admitted to the hospital on Friday ımorning, when news of the previous night's kidnappings broke.ı

It is this story that should have made the headlines in New York, alongside reportage of ıthe Palestinian terrorist abduction of three young Jews. Not that it would have made any ıdifference to Israel's enemies. But it would serve as a reminder to Israel's friends that it ıneeds and deserves all the support -- and love -- it can get.ı

Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab ıSpring.'"ı

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