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Terror of the heart

I am currently in Jerusalem on vacation.

I know that Arafat is winning the current war in Israel, because I’m scared. I am scared for myself, for my wife, and for my two children. Before arriving in Israel last week I was sickened to hear on the news almost daily about the Israeli casualties as a result of Palestinian terror. Despite the situation, my wife and I decided that nothing could stop us from visiting our ancestral homeland.

However, now that I am here, I must admit, I am terrified. I am afraid to go to the pool, to restaurants, and to the park. The last thing I want to do is discourage world Jewry from coming to Israel during these trying times. But last Thursday’s bombing in Jerusalem that claimed 15 lives took its toll on my confidence.

It was my first full day in Jerusalem. We had the option of spending the day downtown or in the old city. We chose the old city, a suicide bomber chose downtown. We spent the remainder of the day watching the images on the news as hospital doctors fought to save the lives of the wounded and families were searching desperately trying to locate loved ones. All the while I couldn’t help but thinking, “that could easily have been us”.

While the residents of Jerusalem were in the midst of recovering from the worst terror attack in the city in years, most English news outlets refrained from interviewing any of the victims or their families. Instead they spoke with Palestinian leaders that justified the attack by blaming the Sharon government for carrying out its “assassination” policies against known terrorists.

While Israelis were fighting for their lives, the media had already begun sympathizing with the perpetrators. Before Israel even had time to contemplate retaliation there was talk of the “cycle of violence”, the phrase used in the media to equate the deaths of Israeli civilians with the deaths of terrorists in the midst of carrying out further attacks.

I stayed up almost all night Thursday reflecting on the day’s events. I journeyed onto the terrace at my sister-in-law’s Katmon apartment upon hearing the sound of helicopters breaking the late night silence. Only in the morning did I learn that the Israeli flag flew atop the Orient House.

While the closure of the illegally operated Orient House is a step in the right direction, a lot more has to happen until I feel secure again. Despite pressure from the world community, Israel must continue its policy of stopping terrorists before they have the chance to murder again.

Once and for all, all partners in Israel’s unity government must declare that Yassir Arafat is still the leader of a terrorist organization whose goal is to destroy the Jewish State. Most importantly, Arafat’s regime must then be destroyed if there will ever be hope for true peace in the region.

The Israeli government must take these appropriate steps so that the next time I return to Israel my fears will be diminished. But as long as I remain scared in Israel, it is a victory for Arafat.

Joshua Hasten is the editor of Jewishindy.com, an online community to help Jews learn more about Judaism by supporting local outreach and educational programs, as well as promoting online discussion of news, education, events, Torah, holidays and food.