Jewish World Review August 9, 2001 / 20 Menachem-Av, 5761

War and Peace ...

By Yaffa Ganz -- This is about as instant an article as you are ever going to read. News items will, of course, reach you more quickly, but for an almost-but-not-quite-on - the-spot article, thanks to the internet, this is fast. Fast enough is to give you an idea of what normal, "quiet", everyday life means in Israel today.

It's 2:30, Thursday afteroon. A hot, quiet, August afternoon.

The phone just rang. It was a daughter-in-law asking breathlessly, "Are you all OK? Are you all home?"

This is a sure-fire announcement that something has happened. It happened now - two minutes ago - in the middle of town, on King George and Jaffa Streets in Jerusalem. A large package of explosives went off in a big pizzeria-restaurant filled with kids on vacation, families, shoppers who stopped in for something to eat. (It's 2:30 P.M.) They don't know yet how many were wounded or killed; they are just beginning to evacuate the place.

The phone rings again. Our daughter calls from Netanya (another favorite place for Arab bombs in their "just" War Against the Jews - sometimes called their War of Independence).

"Is everyone home? Accounted for?"

I make two calls to check on two other kids and their families. That leaves one to go. The phone rings again. A friend. Repeat conversation. And so it goes.

Yesterday I was in town for three hours in the afternoon with my sister. It was quiet, fairly empty. I wondered how long the strange quiet would continue. We know, you see, that until the Israeli government and people get things under control ("things" include our own national frame of mind), the terror, the destruction, the confusion will continue. Yet because the thought of war, of killing, of destruction is so anathema to the Jewish soul, we postpone action, postpone decisions, and we wait, hope, believe. Believe what? In this world, one must understand that Evil can and does run rampant. Falsehood gets, not only a hearing, but a stage, a theater, a microphone, and finds countless listeners. And we know from bitter experience that even the smallest moves for self-defense on our part are immediately castigated, denounced, prohibited by a cynical, hypocritical world.

The phone rings again. My son calling from Tel Aviv. "Is everyone accounted for?"

I was just getting ready to go the Malcha Mall when the first call arrived with the news of the explosion. I wanted to pick up a few things I need and get them off the list. Not now. Not because of fear, but because how can I "pick up a few things" when broken, wounded, human beings are being "picked up" and packed off to the nearest hospital? No - not human beings. Our Arab neighbors will tell you they are just, humane, good, kind. They do not send their suicide bombers against "human beings", only against "zionists". Read: Jews.

The phone rings. The last of the kids just called. He is (gasp) in town. Not far from the site of the explosion. But he's OK. (I breathe again.) Not to worry (ha!).

What a pity the Arabs do not understand. Four, five times in the past fifty years they have made war, sure that this time they would "win". And each time they looked back, never understanding they were doomed to failure, thinking "if only we had done this or done that ...."

Today, they still believe that terror, deaths, threats will weaken the Jewish spirit. They still do not understand that while we are slow to react, slower than any other normal people in the world (not a one of whom would tolerate what Israel has been tolerating for the past ten months - their capital city being blasted with morters, their cities and settlements bombed, their buses blown up, their soldiers kidnapped, their teen-agers killed), what is happening here, despite the loud proclamations of our own confused, self-hating liberals, is that the Jewish people is slowly getting into battle formation, coming to the conclusion that if war is inevitable, that we will fight, to the finish if necessary, that this is our Land and we have no other, that Am Yisrael lives, and we will live in Eretz Yisrael - the Land of Israel.

I have never ever hurt an Arab, thrown a stone, shot a bullet, or otherwise damaged Arab person or property. I do not dream of doing what the Arabs say they will do to us - to push the Jews into the sea, to pluck them out of their homes, to destroy their state. I believe there is room here for everyone. Room for all, but in a Jewish country, a Jewish land, a Jewish state. If anyone wants room in an Arab land, they have plenty of lands to survey. Take a look at the map of the world and see for yourself.

But let the Arabs beware. When the time comes, when the national consensus deems it necessary beyond question, I and millions of other Jews like me, will fight to protect our Land, our homes, our country, our state. For this Land was promised as an everlasting inheritance to the Jewish people. For two thousand years it closed in on itself and remained barren. Two hundred years ago, it was still empty, sickly, a godforsaken, forlorn corner of the Ottoman Empire. Today it lives, thrives, blossoms and breathes life. Why? Because its children have finally returned. Please G-d, we're here to stay.

JWR contributor Yaffa Ganz is the award winning author of Cinnamon and Myrrh and All Things Considered (Mesorah Publications N.Y.). She has written more than forty Jewish juvenile titles including Sand and Stars --- a 2000 year saga of Jewish history for teen readers. You may contact her by clicking here.


© 2001, Yaffa Ganz