Paula R. SternPaula R. Stern is the Founder and Documentation Manager of WritePoint, a technical writing company.
Only Israel is expected to sit back while our lives are endangered, our one-sided efforts for peace accepted by the world and then belittled as just the first of many sacrifices we are expected to make. We have close to 9,000 people we made homeless. Our government ordered the destruction of vibrant, beautiful, flourishing communities and we have received nothing in return; not peace and not international acclaim. The world has congratulated us on our first surrender and asked what will be next? The Arab nations are salivating as they whisper, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem," the future capital of the Palestinian nation for which Ariel Sharon is laying the cornerstone.
The foreign media has jumped into the fray, quickly rushing to report events as they would have the world see them. "Israel launched a 'crushing' retaliation Saturday against Hamas in Gaza with deadly airstrikes, troops massed at the border and a planned ground incursion," the Associated Press story begins. The second paragraph, after this alarming introduction detailing Israel's apparently aggressive intentions, does, at least, give lip service to the truth: "The Israeli action came after militants fired 35 rockets at Israeli towns."
The Presidency of the European Union has released its statement, "The Presidency calls on the Palestinian Authority to take all necessary steps to take full control of security in the Gaza Strip. The Presidency recognizes Israel's right to act in self-defense, but calls on Israel to act with restraint." It is reasonable, until you understand the flaw in the Presidency's logic. Were there to be no attacks against Israel, there would be no need for restraint. Stop the rockets and we will have no need to respond.
The voices for self-termination come from within Israel as well. Don't fall into Hamas' trap, warns the ultra-leftist Yossi Beilin. Of course, Beilin doesn't live in Sderot and doesn't have to worry about his children's school being hit by a rocket or missile as the school week begins. That Beilin speaks this way is no surprise for those who have long known that Beilin is the ultimate apologist, the first to blame Israel for all the world's sins.
But Beilin is not alone. We didn't leave Gaza in order to return, says Ariel Sharon. But then again, this is a man who has never clearly explained why we did leave Gaza in the first place. Certainly, it wasn't to stop suicide bombers, like the one who blew himself up in Be'er Sheva in the midst of Sharon's Disengagement Plan. It couldn't be to stop the rockets, 35 or more of which were launched against Israel in the last 24 hours.
It is impossible to even imagine what the United States, Britain, France or Russia would do were an enemy to fire rockets and mortars at civilian targets within its borders. Would any nation ask them to respond "with restraint," or would they universally condemn the act of aggression and demand the enemy cease violating international law?
The 'orange people' of Israel, those who predicted the disastrous results we could expect from Sharon's Disengagement Plan, gain no satisfaction from these attacks. We mourn the destruction of 25 of the most productive, peace-loving communities for nothing. We cry for the homeless amongst us, those who still have no solution, who still have not received compensation payments. Rather than offer solutions, the government is launching a war of disinformation, while all that the people of Gush Katif and northern Samaria have requested is simply to be allowed to rebuild their lives and communities together in the Negev.
The Sharon government has promised no mercy, and no mercy it has shown - to our people. To the Palestinians who shoot rockets, send suicide bombers, shoot and stone our nation, the Sharon government offers empty promises of a zero-tolerance solution. Even my five-year-old understands that zero does not equal 35 rockets, a bus explosion in Be'er Sheva, stone-throwing and shooting.
We expected no more. The Palestinians promised no less. The army will respond according to the commands of Prime Minister Sharon. The people too must respond, with an overwhelming and clear answer that reverberates through the halls of the Knesset. Under the rockets red glare, we must tell Ariel Sharon to go home.