Why Was Israel Created?

Contemplating the meaning of Israel's existence.

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Paula R. Stern,

Paula Stern
Paula Stern
In the day-to-day events that fill our lives, few of us have time to contemplate any issues larger than tomorrow's schedule, tonight's dinner, and who will pick up the kids. Sometimes an event in your life temporarily adds some spice. Two upcoming weddings (I thought he was about to celebrate his bar mitzvah, how could it be his wedding?) and a bar mitzvah, and a new puppy that seems to like eating my plants, is about as adventurous as I can handle.

Did we create a state so that our children could study in bomb shelters?

School is about to begin and the decision whether to have the pencil case match the backpack is raging in my house, while my middle child is asking if he will be allowed to take the car to school once he gets his license (no, he won't). I have a son in the army now and that adds an entire dimension in and of itself. As if that weren't enough, I now have a married daughter and a new wonderful extension to our family in the form of my son-in-law and his family. So, contemplating great philosophical matters is simply more than I can handle at the best of times, and late August in Israel is not the best of times.

So, given all these normal distractions, I was amazed to find myself contemplating the very meaning of Israel's existence as I planned the family's Shabbat dinner.

Did we create a state so that our children could study in bomb shelters to avoid the incessant and unrelenting rocket fire from Gaza?

Did we create a state so that we could build walls and hide behind them?

Did we create a state so that one million of our people would cower in fear and run for their lives?

Can we only deal with the Katyushas and Kassams by building stronger rooftops?

Must we live in such a way that we are but 15 seconds from shelter at any given time?

Must we always worry what the world will think so that we accept conditions that no one else would find normal?

The Olmert administration, like the Sharon and Barak governments before it, have been unable to come up with a solution to Gaza's rocket attacks, other than by focusing on how to minimize the damage that will be done after the rocket hits our ground.

Now, Education Minister Yuli Tamir has made known our weakness, our inability to defend our children, our willingness to cower before our neighbors rather than risk their ire or international condemnation. We alone, of all the nations and peoples of the world, are expected to accept daily rocket attacks, and the only way we can deal with them, suggests Tamir, is to send our children to learn in bomb shelters. Ever wanting to help, the Director of Education in the Sderot municipality contemplates how to air-condition the bomb shelters and other Education Ministry officials wonder about computer lessons.

Three of our sons remain captive, their families in daily agony and their lives frozen at a single moment in time; and they are all but ignored by our government when dealing with other governments. The US wants a peace conference and they have told us to attend. We are, it seems, the puppets that dance on the string. And yet, it never occurs to our government to demand a price for our dance. Give us Jonathan Pollard. Demand the release of the three soldiers. Will our government make an effort? They are too busy
It never occurs to our government to demand a price for our dance.
contemplating how many weapons to give to the Palestinians, how many more terrorists to release in honor of Ramadan and, of course, lining up the necessary bomb shelters in Sderot.

It is left, then, to the parents and the students, not just in Sderot, but in all of Israel, to stop their busy lives of work and weddings and new puppies and sons in the army and daughters who have recently married, and to ask the simplest of questions. Did we create a state so that our children could learn underground, hide in bomb shelters and cower in fear that they may be caught more than 15 seconds from shelter?

When Israel answers correctly, the government will fall in shame and Sderot will rise in pride.