Source: dno1967b/Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: They didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Israel or any other Middle East nation, but I’m pretty sure citizens of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, anticipating the next wave of attacks, were thankful a truce was initiated last Wednesday to end the latest episode of bloodshed and bombs between Hamas and Israel.

I’m sure those people were also on the minds of many Americans as they sat down and sated themselves on our annual day of feasting.

No one can predict how long the cease-fire will last this time because Israel has been involved in one showdown or another, whether it’s labeled a war, battle, conflict or skirmish, since it became a nation. Despite lulls sprinkled in every few years, cynics know it won’t be too long before another flare-up is at hand in the world’s most unstable region.

Though it has been plagued by Arab bullies for 64 years, Israeli has defied, deterred and defeated its enemies time after time.

More than 1,500 rockets were reportedly fired at Israel — forcing millions of Israelis to take cover in bomb shelters. The Hamas strategy appeared to challenge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to invade the Gaza Strip, but the truce was brokered before that plan was implemented.

In spite of the regrettable deaths on both sides, some questioned why there were many more Palestinian casualties than Israeli? Reports claimed that only a handful of Israelis died, while more than 100 Gaza Strip residents were killed.

Why the huge difference in the number of casualties?

Israel, accustomed to such incidents, evacuated civilians from potentially dangerous areas, but the Palestinians apparently located their rocket firing positions and other likely targets in populated areas. Little action was taken to protect its civilian population. It almost as if the extremists intentionally left civilians in harm’s way and sacrificed them to help gain international sympathy.

As I’ve written before, I nourish a sense of pride and utmost respect for Israel, so I believe the recent retaliations to Hamas rocket attacks were justifiable. With a truce in place, let’s hope earnest negotiations will prolong the end of death and destruction.

Nevertheless, Israel didn’t start this fight, Hamas did. So, unless you’re a devoted pacifist, it’s logical to sympathize and concur that Israel, as it has during my lifetime, is entitled to defend itself any way it can. Israel is once again committed to do what any nation must do to defend itself, by any means necessary.

A sovereign nation since 1948, Israel’s roots in the region stretch back millennia and the Jewish state, as much as any other nation in the region, deserves the right (affirmed in the Old Testament) to exist.

In spite of large scale wars, periodic clashes and the constant threat of attack, Israel has survived and thrived. When all is said and done, Israel will prevail as it has for more than 60 years.

For now, for the sake of civilians on both sides of the conflict, let’s hope the fragile ceasefire holds as both sides try, once again, to negotiate an enduring peace.

Under the terms of the latest cease-fire, Israel agreed not to launch any ground attacks or continued targeted strikes in Gaza. The Egyptian government has been accorded a special role in maintaining the cease-fire, but that will mean little unless it halts the flood of arms coming into Gaza from Iran via Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Israel received a similar guarantee from Hamas three years ago after its last cease-fire, but the rockets multiplied and with longer ranges.

Iranian missiles, capable of reaching Jerusalem, reportedly made up the bulk of Hamas’s arsenal. Some Middle East experts believe this was a preview of a potential future armed confrontation with Iran and allowed Israel to test its new antimissile systems to counter them.

Israel absolutely realizes that until Palestinians are given the own state their people will never enjoy peace. Israel often draws criticism, particularly from those who would rather see nothing more than the Jewish nation wiped off the faces of the Earth, but when a country — bordered by hostile neighbors — faces the constant threat of eradication every day of its existence it’s necessary to do what’s in its best interest to ensure it is not annihilated.

Israeli leaders and its citizens wish they didn’t have to permanently exist under the constant threat of obliteration. But they have no choice. When faced with fanatical suicide bombers, who have no qualms about killing innocent people, and the fear of randomly being bombarded by Hamas rockets that leave paths of death and destruction, Israeli is forced to mount any defense necessary to thwart attacks from its numerous enemies.

Time and again Israel has always been willing to negotiate with its enemies, but uneasy diplomacy rarely ends in guarantees of the Jewish state’s permanent peaceful existence. Until the arbiters of peacemaking parleys assure Israel that its co-existence will be acknowledged and accepted, any temporary truces cease-fires or alternative solutions will remain as fragile as they are uncertain.

Neil S. Friedman is a veteran reporter and photographer, and spent 15 years as an editor for a Brooklyn weekly newspaper. He also did public relations work for Showtime, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. Friedman contributes a weekly column called “Between the Lines” on life, culture and politics in Sheepshead Bay.

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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  • bagels

    I believe in Israel’s right to exist and I abhor violence and the actions of all terrorist groups. Every person I have seen interviewed who speaks on behalf of Gaza has said there will be no peace until the Israeli blockade is lifted. Why do I keep hearing this and what is it exactly?

    • Tankboy

      Since the military takeover of Gaza by Hamas from the Palestinian Authority in 2007/2008 Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of Gaza to prevent, or at least slow, Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel. Nothing is allowed in or out without Israel checking it. Egypt turns a blind eye to any smuggling on their side, but maintains the blockade on paper to support the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The economy in Gaza has collapsed and grinding poverty and hardship has followed. As far as I have read and heard most outside experts consider the Blockade illegal, but there is enough support to provide Israel cover. After that it is a chicken and the egg problem. Israel says that they will not lift the blockade because Hamas illegally fires rockets, Hamas says that they fire rockets because of the blockade. So, both sides are dong illegal things because the each side is responding the other side’s illegal actions.

  • Alex C

    Am I the only one who does not care about this local conflict?

    • Tinman

      A local conflict that has international ramifications! DUH!

      • Alex C

        Every conflict has potential international ramifications if you put enough attention on it. Bottom line: let them kill each other. Not our war, please don’t drag the rest of the world into a conflict over whose imaginary friend (god) is better or a possession of a few olive trees.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ari.abelik Ari Abelik

          Our government has special interest in Israel. It’ll never ignore the middle east

  • Some Guy

    “A sovereign nation since 1948, Israel’s roots in the region stretch back
    millennia and the Jewish state, as much as any other nation in the
    region, deserves the right (affirmed in the Old Testament) to exist.”

    So because a 4000 year old book says so then it means Israel should exist? Maybe someone can provide a real valid reason why Israel should exist in the first place?

    • Tinman

      Does Israel not deserve to exist as much as any other nation in that or any other region? Rationally explain.

      • SomeGuy

        In other words, you’re asking me to prove a negative. Typical trick of people who can’t justify a position. Reminds me of all those people who say ‘prove that god doesn’t exist’ when confronted about any evidence for their belief.

        I have nothing to prove or rationalize.

      • SomeGuy

        That something is not, that something should not be, that something should not be done is the default position. Those who claim otherwise are the ones who need to prove it. That is the proper logical way of things.

  • blotter

    Israel is full of shit and is not a real country and never was. The jews dont deserve land since they have proven they are not responsible to own it.