We will look first at the external siege -- war that is being waged against us. It has its military, diplomatic, and ideological-propaganda aspects.
On the "military" front (if that is the right word for the front of violence and terror) we have been under constant assault since the signing of the Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993.
For the past seven years, Israeli towns and villages near the border with Gaza have been subjected to rocket attacks; during the past two years, the city of Sderot, with a population of some 23,000, has been bombarded with rockets nearly every day. Its residents have about twenty seconds whenever a warning siren sounds to duck into a shelter. The missiles have killed some people; many more have been wounded; and thousands, including Sderot's children, have suffered shock and trauma.
Egypt, supposedly at peace with Israel, has enabled the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza to move vast amounts of armaments, money and soldiers into this territory, and to transform themselves from a guerilla force into an army able to fight Israel on nearly equal terms. The Israelis have even captured on videotape Egyptian "border guards" helping to smuggle in terrorists.
Then there are the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, who killed about 140 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians in 2006, many of them with long range rockets that struck deep inside the Galilee, including Israel 's third largest city, Haifa. Hezbollah recently struck again with rockets at kibbutz Shlomi. Since the 2006 Lebanon war, Hezbollah has completely rearmed, and now has missiles that can strike at the heart of Tel Aviv.
Threat of violence
The campaign of violence against Jews has been extended to the Diaspora. There has been a massive increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe. In London, Paris, and Brussels, Jews are routinely assaulted on the street and on public transportation facilities. Many synagogues have been vandalized, and some burned to the ground. Desecrations of Jewish cemeteries are so common that they have ceased to be news. In "peaceful" Switzerland, a rabbi was gunned down recently in the street simply because he was wearing traditional Jewish garb.
Nor should we American Jews think that we have been immune to the spreading hatred. According to FBI statistics, of some 1,500 hate crimes connected with the religion of the victims last year, over 1,000 were directed at Jews -- more than five times the number of crimes directed at the next most vulnerable group, Muslims, and more than ten times the number of hate crimes directed against Christians. On March 1, 1994, a Lebanese Muslim murdered a Jewish boy and seriously injured several others on the Brooklyn Bridge, simply because they were Jews. On July 4, 2002, at the El Al terminal of Los Angeles Airport, two Jews were killed and four wounded by an Egyptian gunman, simply because they were Jews seeking to board a plane for Israel. On July 28, 2007 an Arab Muslim man walked into a Jewish center in Seattle, murdered a Jewish woman and injured five other women simply because they were Jews.
Even more troubling, perhaps, is the strange insensitivity often displayed by our own government toward many of these hate crimes. For example, the FBI described the murder of the Jewish boy on the Brooklyn Bridge as a case of "road rage," even when the political and religious motives of the assassin were attested to by many witnesses. And when the Egyptian, Muslim fundamentalist gunman mowed down Jews at the Los Angeles El Al terminal, the FBI investigating officer asserted, "there is no evidence that this was terrorism."
Pressure to implement the "road map" has continued relentlessly through the Annapolis conference last month and during President Bush's recent visit to Israel . The United States has also put relentless pressure on Israel to withdraw security checkpoints that are vital to preventing the movement of terrorists and their weapons into Israel, to end all construction of Jewish housing outside the 1967 borders, including those neighborhoods of Jerusalem outside of this "green line," to acquiesce in the partition of Jerusalem, and to evacuate Jewish residents from the so-called "unauthorized settlements" or "illegal outposts" -- many of them on land legally owned by Jews, in some cases owned by Jews for decades.
The Palestinian Arab leadership, for its part, has demanded that Israel accept within its borders all four million Arabs who claim that they are descended from refugees who left Israel sixty years ago, during her War of Independence. They also want Israel to evict the roughly 450,000 Jews who live in areas outside the 1967 lines, which would require Israel to resettle these unfortunate people, too, within its now-truncated territory. Obviously, Israel could not survive the importation of millions of Arabs who have been taught to hate her from birth. But it also would be very difficult to absorb half a million Jews forced from their homes. They would have good reason to hate their own country.