America still lags in its emotional acceptance of what Israel confronts
Jewish Renaissance Media
ome of the starkest reminders of how far
Israel has advanced in its war against terror
are to be found outside preschools — heavi-
ly armed guards who stand watch
while toddlers frolic in the sandbox.
They are a continuing reminder that,
despite periodic lulls in attacks, Israelis
must maintain a constant vigil in virtually every
aspect of daily life: eating, praying, schooling, shop-
.ping, driving or simply strolling down the street.
America, on the other hand, seems to be moving
painfully and haltingly toward any real acceptance of
Yehoshua Halevi is an American-born journalist
based in. Efrat, Israel.
the fact that fighting terrorism is a daily, personal
After two years of unprecedented terrorist vio-
lence, Israelis have internalized the fight. They know
they are at war. They know who the enemy is. And
they know the war is far from over. But in the U.S.,
it is for most a remote debate about whether to go
launch a campaign against Iraq — and
even that would be largely determined by
B-52s flying high over military targets
rather than infantrymen slogging their way
through a murderous crossfire.
By the time America got its wakeup call on 9-11 a
year ago, Israel had already been a year at war
against a new intifada (uprising) that worked by
sending Palestinian suicide bombers to pizza parlors
and discotheques and even into Passover seders. But
Israel's understanding of what this kind of war really
means has even deeper roots than that.
The Jewish state has had to fight for its existence
since its founding in 1948. It has fought five . major
wars against its Arab neighbors, of which only Egypt
and Jordan have even recognized its right to exist.
America also had to fight for its existence, but has
not faced an existential challenge since 1812. Even
the Cuban missile crisis of 40 years ago gave the
U.S. only a few days of primal fear. Its neighbors,
Canada and Mexico, do not threaten it with inva-
sion. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has
been unchallenged as the world's only superpower.
For most Americans, the 9-11 attack on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon was a singular act of
violence by what is perceived as a few madmen.
By contrast, the murder of nine more Israelis last
week, bringing the two-year death toll to 621, has
been the norm since the Palestinians and the support-
ers of terrorism in Iraq, Syria and other Arab states
seized on Ariel Sharon's Temple Mount walk as an
Far left: An Israeli
soldier patrols at
a bus stop in
on Sept. 20.
Left: An Israeli
police officer helps
an unidentified man
wounded in a suicide
bomb attack on a
Tel Aviv bus Septa 19.
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