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Matt Vespa - Should The U.S. Declare War On ISIS?
Posted: 8/22/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

If there’s one thing that will generate bipartisan consensus on the Hill, it’s that the United States needs to get serious about confronting the Islamic State (ISIS) militarily. The National Journal recently posted a piece by James Kitfield, a senior fellow at Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress, argued that it’s time the U.S. declares war on the Islamic State–and have a debate on the U.S. interests at stake:

Washington is overdue for a serious debate about what U.S. national interests are threatened by the Iraq crisis.

Most importantly, ISIS today represents a direct and growing threat to the United States. It has attracted an estimated 12,000 foreign fighters to its black banner flying over Syrian and Iraqi territory, including hundreds of Europeans and Americans who can travel freely with Western passports. It has a bigger sanctuary, far more money, and is more indiscriminately murderous than al-Qaida was on Sept. 10, 2001. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has assured anyone who will listen that he eventually intends to direct his jihad at the United States, telling the U.S. soldiers who released him from prison in 2009, "I'll see you in New York."

A congressional authorization targeting ISIS, however limited in time or geography, would go a long way toward clarifying for the American people this growing threat to their security. In a recent exclusive interview, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the outgoing director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told me that Islamic extremist groups that have adopted al-Qaida's nihilistic ideology are stronger and more threatening today than before 9/11.

Although, Kitfield knows the risks the Obama administration faces by weighing into this debate, especially since the president campaigned on getting our troops out of Iraq:

There are other authorities Obama could draw on to justify U.S. military action, but both are problematic. Congress's 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force against the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks has long been interpreted to allow military attacks against al-Qaida and "associated forces." It remains the justification for the administration's targeted-killing-by-drone program. But al-Qaida has famously disenfranchised ISIS over its penchant for wantonly slaughtering fellow Muslims, and the Obama administration has said it wants to reform and eventually repeal the 2001 AUMF.

Even more problematic is Congress' 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Iraq. While still on the books, the 2002 AUMF is anathema for a president who ran for office touting his opposition to the Iraq War, and Congress's vote that enabled it. When the House of Representatives recently voted overwhelmingly to bar the administration from deploying military forces to Iraq for a "sustained combat role," the White House thus sought to pair that resolution with a full repeal of the 2002 AUMF.

Yet, as Dan noted earlier this week, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced their solidarity with ISIS. They’re now helping them how to avoid U.S. airstrikes and how to maximize their influence over the region. Even before this alliance was struck, NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said earlier this month that the Pentagon was estimating that dealing with ISIS would be a 10 to-20 year challenge.

Over at Hot Air, Noah Rothman wrote that conservatives generally agree that we should go to war in Iraq and Syria, but not occupy them.

Rothman cited Krauthammer in his piece, noting that ISIS is overextended. They have about 15,000 men trying to maintain control of an area four times the size of Israel. We wouldn’t need 250,000 men, which is what we mobilized by March of 2003 to go into Iraq; a smaller force would be more than necessary to drive Islamic State forces out of Iraq. When it comes to Syria, Krauthammer admitted that it’s a situation that would require a different strategy, one that could our troops in harm’s way; it’s a totally different animal.

Yet, even if the case is made cogently; even if the both parties agree; there’s still the Reid issue. Mr. Reid isn’t too happy about a vote reauthorizing the use of force in Iraq since it’ll prove disastrous for Democrats in tight races (via the Hill):

Will the Senate hold a vote less than two months before the midterm elections to authorize military strikes in Iraq?

Democrats in both chambers have called for Congress to take action, but it’s a vote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) almost certainly wants to avoid as he seeks to keep the upper chamber majority in his party’s hands.

Democratic strategists warn that voting on a use-of-force authorization before the election could prove disastrous to Democratic candidates in tough races.

Although, if there’s one senator who doesn’t want a ground war with ISIS, it’s Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who said, “I do not want to see us caught again in a ground war…I do believe there needs to be a heck of a lot of discussion in the Congress as to what our long-term plans are in Iraq and in the region.”

One biting irony in this whole mess is that the former Baath party officials and generals in Saddam’s army that we purged in 2003 are giving the Islamic State political credibility with locals–and are responsible for securing their victory in Mosul. Yet, these two groups “aren’t natural allies” (via Foreign Policy):

The group of ex-Hussein loyalists, known alternatively as the Naqshbandi Army or by the acronym JRTN -- the initials of its Arabic name -- helped the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, win some of its most important military victories, including its conquest of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. It has also given the terrorist army, which is composed largely of foreign fighters, a valuable dose of local political credibility in Iraq. JRTN, which was formed as a resistance group in 2006, is made up of former Baathist officials and retired military generals, and is led by the former vice president of Hussein's revolutionary council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was once one of the most-wanted men in the country during the U.S. occupation.

ISIS and JRTN aren't natural allies. The former wants to erase Iraq's current borders and establish a caliphate, while the latter has been a largely secular movement that seeks to regain the official power and influence it held before the U.S. invasion in 2003. But they are aligned in their opposition to, and hatred of, outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government. Each side wants him to go, and JRTN recognizes that ISIS stands the best chance of violently overthrowing the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad.

Then again, the Wall Street Journal reported today that the Islamic State’s momentum was maintained due to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's decision to “go easy on them,” thinking they would “cannibalize” the rebel Free Syrian Army. That was a big mistake.

Right now, our State Department State Department wants to make something clear, “This is not about ISIL versus the United States.”  I don't think we're going to be able to play that game very long.

Sarah Jean Seman - Shocker: Most Americans Not Cool With Illegal Immigrants In Local Schools
Posted: 8/22/2014 6:22:00 PM EST

President Obama has been very quietly distributing illegal immigrant children throughout the country, most of the time without even telling (much less asking) state and local governments. States such as Indiana and Virginia are now having to deal with the issue of allowing the immigrants to attend local schools. 

Unsurprisingly, Americans are none too happy knowing these undocumented immigrants will be attending school alongside their children. According to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll [emphasis added]: 

Thirty-two percent (32%) of Likely U.S. Voters think these illegal immigrants should be allowed to enroll in local public schools this fall, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifty-three percent (53%) disagree and say they should not be permitted to attend local schools. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

Where these illegal immigrants are now living remains unknown to most voters and many elected officials because the Obama administration has been transferring them secretly. Forty-seven percent (47%) of all voters believe the administration should have gotten the approval of elected officials in a state before housing the illegal immigrants there. Thirty-two percent (32%) feel such approval was not necessary, while 21% are not sure.

Allowing aliens to attend public schools while they reside illegally in our country is, apparently, a law, according to The Daily Signal's Genevieve Wood. Rather than paying to transport, extravagantly housing, and educating these children...we should be sending them home to their families. 

Rebecca Ross - The New, Shameful, Liberal High School History Curriculum
Posted: 8/22/2014 6:15:00 PM EST

Imagine if the only thing you were taught by Advanced Placement curriculum about Thomas Jefferson, the author of the single most important document in our country’s history, was that he was a wealthy landowner.

CollegeBoard, the issuer of Advanced Placement Exams has been condemned by the Republic National Committee for their newly revised Advanced Placement U.S. History exam and framework for “reflect[ing] a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects."

Some of our most influential historical figures are hardly mentioned, if at all.

George Washington is alluded to only once in the framework and it is in reference to his farewell address. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are mentioned only in the “Long Essay Questions” section, where they are listed as examples to illustrate the lack of change in the upper class in the pre-Revolution and post-Revolution world.

College Board gave this example in a practice AP essay given by students:

“[A good essay] might note, for example, that the outcome of the American Revolution saw no broad change in the composition of those who dominated the social, political, and economic structure of the former colonies. Those individuals who were wealthy, powerful, and influential before the event continued to possess wealth, power, and influence later. George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson could serve as examples.”

This new framework shows U.S. history in a negative light. It also has expanded the curriculum from five to 98 pages, allowing teachers less flexibility and making it harder for them to fulfill their state’s social studies standards.

While the new curriculum may be more “left-leaning,” I have had my own experiences with this issue specifically. Having taken AP US History last year, I experienced first-hand College Board curriculum. Even though the new standards had not yet been applied, I still could see how the most admirable aspects of our country’s history were often downplayed. This also could have been due to my very liberal teacher, who once when someone asked “Was Gerald Ford a Republican?” she replied saying, “Yes, wait what did you say?” After the question was repeated, my teacher said “Oh, I thought you asked if he was a bumpkin… although I can’t say that I would have changed my answer.” Or when we were discussing the 2008 election, she said “Oh well I hope none of you would have voted for Sarah Palin!” Don’t get me wrong, she was a great teacher, but the fact that her perspective was so biased, and the fact that I got a 5/5 on the exam, is indicative of how left-leaning the exam has become.

But that’s nothing compared to the new standards. How shameful and absurd that George Washington and the other founding fathers’ unprecedented and truly revolutionary vision is not highlighted.

While I intend to continue my study of US history in college, for many of those who got a high enough score on the exam, they may never have to take a US history class again. This is a concern shared by Jane Robbins, American Principles President, who said:

“Those who don’t go on to college to take US history in college, this is it. So, if this is the impression they come away with, I’m afraid that we are creating a cynical generation.”

College Board’s new framework and exam for AP US History are set to be implemented in the fall of 2014.

Matt Vespa - Sen. Pryor's Gutsy Pro-Obamacare Ad
Posted: 8/22/2014 4:15:00 PM EST

Liberals rejoice! Vulnerable Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor has an ad that praises Obamacare. The media spot features his father, former governor and U.S. Senator for Arkansas David Pryor, detailing Mark’s struggle with cancer in the mid-1990s and how insurance companies didn’t want to pay for his care.

DAVID: When Mark was diagnosed with cancer, we thought we might lose him.

MARK: My family and my faith helped me through the rough times.

DAVID: But you know what? Mark’s insurance company didn’t want to pay for the treatment that ultimately saved his life.

MARK: No one should be fighting an insurance company while you’re fighting for your life. That’s why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions.

In a previous post, I wrote that Republicans were shifting gears on how to attack Obamacare in political ads; they’re trying to put the focus on the law’s impact on jobs and the economy. Now, it seems Democrats are doing some strategic maneuvering as well on this issue (via Washington Post):

The [Pryor] spot represents an effort to shift the debate over the law away from the land of GOP talking points where it has resided so long — in this and so many other Senate races — and back to one of the fundamental moral imperatives driving health reform, i.e., protecting the sick and vulnerable from insurance industry abuse. Republicans have long sought to dominate in the anecdote war — stressing hyper-exaggerated horror stories about canceled plans and lost coverage — while refusing to acknowledge the existence of the law’s many beneficiaries. And Dems have been perhaps not engaged on this front forcefully enough, because in places where control of the Senate will be decided, pointing to the folks gaining coverage might not be compelling to the persuadable voters Obamacare has alienated.

Republicans will undoubtedly cast this as an acknowledgment that their attacks on Pryor over the law are working and could no longer be ignored. They’ll argue Pryor is, in desperation, using his faith and personal experience as a shield against those attacks. But this misses what’s really going on here. This ad is actually coming at a point where there are signs the anti-Obamacare fires are cooling somewhat. GOP advertising against the law has fallen off sharply, and is surprisingly low in Arkansas. The ad appears geared towards persuadable voters — particularly women — who, now that the Affordable Care Act is not quite the albatross it was a few months ago, might now be open to hearing the Democratic case for the law, straight from the candidate.

This is a gutsy move on Pryor’s part, but unlike what WaPo’s Greg Sargent says about Obamacare not being “quite the albatross” to Democrats; others say the law is still a huge problem for them (via Cook Political Report):

The ad came on the heels of reporting that the number of GOP ads attacking Obamacare has dropped off, leading some to speculate that the issue of Obamacare is no longer as toxic to Democrats as it once was. Has this issue finally run its course?

Short answer: No. Obamacare remains a liability to Democrats this fall. It remains widely unpopular in southern red states where control of the Senate will be determined. It may not be the issue this cycle, but it is still a top negative for Democrats. Plus, the more unpopular the President, the more politically toxic any issue associated with him or his administration. One Republican consultant told me he’s calling this the “O” election: it is defined by views of Obama. And among Republicans and independents, those views aren’t positive.

Republicans and their allies took to the airwaves early this cycle with ads that linked the unpopular law to Democratic candidates. In most places, that linkage has been accomplished. Once the link has been made, said one GOP strategist “you’ve gotten what you’re gonna get.” In other words, once a campaign has established that their opponent has supported Obamacare, the lines are now set and aren’t going to move with a higher volume of attacks. However, there’s life after the generic Obamacare attacks. Said that same GOP operative, “don’t leave Obamacare behind, build on it.”

Over at the National Interest, Walter Russell Mead blogged about the 33 customers suing Anthem Blue Cross for limiting their health care provider choices:

The Affordable Care Act has lately become more unpopular than ever, even though coverage has expanded (at least in name), and some states saw only average premium hikes. This lawsuit might point to a major reason why: Consumers don’t like to have their choices limited, especially as the result of having their plans cancelled.

As for the premium hikes, Forbes did a 3,137-county analysis and found that premiums went up by an average of 49% in the individual market. For women, premiums went up 82%. For men, there’s been a whopping 92% hike. Obamacare still sucks, but Americans know this. Now, Republicans need to “build” on it by opening a second front: how will they fix it? Again, there are plenty of conservative ideas out there.

Christine Rousselle - Pope Francis Offers Condolences to James Foley's Parents
Posted: 8/22/2014 3:30:00 PM EST

Pope Francis called the parents of slain journalist James Wright Foley on Thursday afternoon to offer his condolences. Foley was a faithful Catholic who previously wrote about praying the Rosary to keep himself focused while in captivity in Libya, as well as the power of prayer sustaining his strength while imprisoned.

I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.

I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.

Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.

Pope Francis spoke to the Foleys through a translator for about 20 minutes, and the Pontiff was described as being "compassionate" and "loving" on the phone. Foley's father has described his son as a "martyr for freedom."

President Obama also called the Foleys on Thursday to express his sympathy.

The murder of James Foley by ISIS militants is a tragic loss that has rightfully been condemned by just about everyone. Kudos to Pope Francis for taking the time to console his parents.

Katie Pavlich - White House Confirms James Foley Execution as First ISIS Attack on The United States
Posted: 8/22/2014 3:05:00 PM EST

Speaking from Martha's Vineyard to reporters Friday afternoon, White House advisor Ben Rhodes confirmed the gruesome execution of American journalist James Foley earlier this week as "absolutely" the first terror attack from ISIS on the United States. 

"Absolutely. When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way that represents a terrorist attack, that represents a terrorist attack against our country and against an American citizen and I think all of us have the Foley family in our thoughts and prayers," Rhodes said. "The fact of the matter is that we've actually seen ISIL seek to advance too close to our facilities, certainly for our own comfort." 


Rhodes' statement came after NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked if the administration agreed with a statement made by former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell earlier this week, who said, "We should mark the date down, because this is ISIS’ first terrorist attack against the United States," shortly after Foley was beheaded on video by ISIL/ISIS terrorists.

Daniel Doherty - University Professor: ISIS and Israel Are One in the Same
Posted: 8/22/2014 3:00:00 PM EST

The false comparison in this tweet should be abundantly clear to pretty much everyone (via The Washington Free Beacon):

A Georgetown University professor whose father pled guilty to terrorism charges is facing criticism for comparing Israel to the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) on Twitter.

Georgetown University History Professor Abdullah Al-Arian, the son of Sami Al-Arian, a controversial Israel critic who pled guilty to conspiring with a terror group, tweeted out his take on a common nursery rhyme by comparing Israel to the terror group ISIL, which recently beheaded an American journalist on film.

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Israel goes to great lengths to protect innocent civilians from military force and rocket fire; ISIS actively seeks out innocent civilians to rape, murder, and crucify them. Israel watches in horror as Hamas breaks cease-fire agreement after ceasefire agreement; ISIS beheads American journalists in order to goad Americans and the West into fighting another war. Israel has a democratically elected government that espouses tolerance and inclusion; ISIS is committed to establishing an Islamic caliphate where those who do not convert to Islam are slaughtered as infidels.

There is no comparison between Israel and ISIS whatsoever. To suggest otherwise is wrong, purposefully misleading, and an insult to Israeli citizens everywhere.

UPDATE: Read more about Katie's recent trip to Israel here.

Katie Pavlich - Hamas Executes 18 "Israeli Informants," Drags Men Through Streets
Posted: 8/22/2014 2:30:00 PM EST

Hamas, the Islamic terror group operating in Gaza, has executed 18 people accused of being "Israeli operatives." There was no trial, no due process, just death. Some of the men were dragged through the streets as an example. More from BBC:

Hamas sources in Gaza say 18 people suspected of collaborating with Israel have been executed.

The killings came after an Israeli airstrike left three senior Hamas leaders dead on Thursday.

And by the way, they apparently also executed two women for good measure.

FLASHBACK: Nancy Pelosi calls Hamas a "humanitarian organization."

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Matt Vespa - Oh Jeez: Harry Reid Told Some Asian Jokes
Posted: 8/22/2014 2:25:00 PM EST

Sen. Harry Reid is continuing his odd habit of providing racial commentaries. It seems that Asians were the next demographic on his list, where his speech to the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce included some awkward jokes about Asian-Americans (via Time) [emphasis mine]:

I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told the guffawing crowd at the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce. Video of the remarks was recorded by the Republican opposition research group American Rising.

Later, before walking off stage, Reid quipped: “One problem that I’ve had today is keeping my Wongs straight.”

The group decided against backing the Reid-endorsed Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Lucy Flores, supporting Republican Mark Hutchison instead, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

A spokesperson for Reid did not immediately respond to a request for comment

Sen. Reid has a history of making odd comments about ethnic groups, some of which have been racially-charged.

Back in 2008, Sen. Reid said that then-Sen. Obama would be successful in his presidential ambitions since he was a “light-skinned African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” These private comments were included in Mark Halperin and John Heilemann book "Game Change." Reid later apologized for his remarks.

In 2010, during his re-election bid, Reid told a group of Hispanic voters at a campaign event that he doesn’t “know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.” That same year, Nevada elected Brian Sandoval, a Republican of Hispanic heritage, as their next governor. Sandoval handily beat Reid’s son, Rory, in that contest.

Right now, Sandoval’s incredibly popular, especially with Hispanics in Nevada; and has little to no opposition. Democrats were said to be having trouble finding a worthy opponent to challenge Sandoval in this Democrat-leaning state for 2014.

Oh, and if Sandoval decides to challenge Reid in 2016, things could get interesting.

UPDATE: (via the Washington Post): Almost forgot that he called New York Senator Kristien Gillibrand the "hottest member" of the Senate; she was sitting a few feet away from him. And, said that Sen. Ted Kennedy's death would make it easier to pass Obamacare.  He's very indelicate to say the least.  

Update II: I almost forgot to add what Hot Air's Noah Rothman tweeted earlier today.  Back in 2010, Reid criticized his then-Republican opponent, Sharon Angle, for making an Asian comment (via Politico):

 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pounding Republican Sharron Angle for telling a Hispanic student group they looked Asian, hoping to fire up a crucial voting demographic in the process.

"I really don't know what my opponent was talking about, because you all look like Nevadans to me," Reid said to cheers at a Las Vegas get-out-the-vote rally today [ 10/19/10].

...

Reid also blasted Angle at a press conference on Monday, saying, "Her mouth does not have the ability to speak the truth."

UPDATE III: Harry Reid has apologized.  The Senate Majority leader said, "My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing.”

That's an understatement. 

Katie Pavlich - Inside The Bomb Shelters: A Look at The Reality of Israeli Civilian Life Under Terrorist Rocket Fire
Posted: 8/22/2014 1:30:00 PM EST

Editor's note: I was in Israel this week on a trip sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters and hosted by Israel's Ministry of Tourism.

Israel – On Wednesday morning I walked downstairs at my hotel in Jerusalem to grab breakfast before jumping on a bus headed south to Gaza's northern border with Israel. The plans for the day had changed as a result of the ceasefire agreement falling apart late Tuesday, so we left around 8: 30. When I got to breakfast at 7:30, my Red Alert application on my cell phone had already shown dozens of rockets had been launched into Israel from Hamas overnight. In fact, one siren had gone off in Jerusalem around 10 p.m. the night before a barrage of rockets had been fired at Tel Aviv. By the time breakfast started and ended, 12 rockets had been launched. More rockets were launched that day than during anytime so far in this war.

As we headed south and down the hill away from Jerusalem, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Being on a bus when rockets are being launched is not ideal. Roadways are considered open areas and often times the Iron Dome allows rockets headed for open areas to fall and running to shelter after the bus is pulled over isn’t an option. Regardless, I needed to get down to see how Israeli’s live under constant attack from Hamas terrorists. There are plenty of reporters stationed in Gaza and the West Bank, but it’s hard to find stories about the hell Israeli civilians go through when rockets are fired hundreds of times a day. Since June, Hamas has fired more than 3500 rockets at Israel. Over the past few days since the ceasefire was broken, Hamas has fired 300 rockets into Israel, killing a child and wounding others.

After a short drive from Jerusalem, we arrived at an intelligence center, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Less than five minutes after getting out of the parking lot and into the building, the rocket sirens went off and we quickly moved to a shelter down stairs.

“We work here and the thing that is the most most terrifying to me is to get used to the daily shutting because I have to say my children, one of them came with me today to work and he heard the alarm and just went away to the shelter. I don’t need to say anything to him, it’s building behavior and this is the most difficult for me because to get used to terrorism, to get used to this kind of life it’s catastrophic. We can’t live this way, that’s why we come here each day. No one gets a vacation,” one woman working at the Council explained. “We have to be strong, so our army can work.”

After our briefing in Hof Ashkelon, we continued to a little agricultural community on the border with Gaza called Netiv Ha’Ashara. A man named Raz, whose family has been in this area for decades, met us.

Ten minutes into our talk with him outside in a courtyard, the rocket sirens sounded again and we ran to get into shelters. Because Netiv Ha'Ashara is right on the border with Gaza, we only had five seconds to get there. Shortly after taking cover, we heard the Iron Dome intercept a rocket nearby. When we left the shelter we saw where the interception happened in the sky as a trail of smoke from the explosion was left behind.

When it was safe to go back outside, we moved inside to a community center that is used for gatherings. Raz briefed us on the challenges of living in the area, the history, etc. and then again, we heard the sirens. We ran to a shelter attached to the room and shortly after, heard an explosion. This time it wasn’t from the Iron Dome intercepting the rocket in the sky, but from a rocket landing in a nearby house.

Raz ran out to find out what happened and to make sure nobody had been hurt.

“There was a wreck in a house. This was a house that I used to live in until four and a half weeks [ago],” he said. “I built my new house here and I rented an apartment here and the one that is bombed now is where I lived four and a half weeks [ago]. The owner of the house had a baby two and a half weeks [ago].”

Walking around the community, Raz showed us a daycare center and the bomb shelter that sits just a few feet away. Many other shelters in the area were newly delivered over the past few weeks. 

Although rocket fire is a major ongoing concern, the people here have been dealing with them for 10 years. The success of the Iron Dome has saved lives and serves to combat rockets falling into communities. The biggest concern now are Hamas tunnels, which were used to kidnap three Israeli teenagers in June, sparking the conflict. Raz and dozens of fathers like him worry about terrorists using tunnels to get into their communities to kidnap their children, which is why he sleeps with weapons and military gear next to his bed. He also walks around with a pistol in his waistband. Thirty of the tunnels built by Hamas from Gaza to Israeli cities, towns and the backyards of civilians have been destroyed, but the government will not say if they have all been annihilated.

After leaving Netiv Ha'Ashar and the Gaza border we drove to Ashkelon, one of the large cities in Israel under constant rocket attack during our visit. We met with the mayor’s office and spoke to the vice mayor about life in a rapidly growing beach city. We also heard from two teenagers living and studying there.

“I want you to know it’s a very hard experience to live like this,” student and head of the Ashkelon Youth Council Yuvall Sadon said. “We try to do our best. We try to give all the children living in Ashkelon spirit and a sense of a little bit of fun and normalcy."

Sadon works to help get children into shelters when rockets fly into Ashkelon.

“As the head of the Youth Council in Ashkelon, what we did is we opened more than 100 shelters,” she said. “We help to guide little children in the shelter and every evening we try to do something for the youth because it’s summer, it’s our vacation and they took the freedom from us because we always have to be thirty seconds away from a shelter. It’s not normal, it’s not a game so we try to stay normal and we want peace and we things normalized. We don’t want war and we don’t want rockets. We’re sick and tired of this.”

Two hundred and seventy two Schools are supposed to open in seven days with 27,000 students in the city but that opening may be delayed due to continuing rocket fire.

Israel’s Iron Dome system is a miracle and although it stops people from being killed, it cannot stop the mental trauma and daily disruptions of living life Hamas wreaks on Israeli civilians. Not to mention the toll terror takes on the tourism industry and ultimately the economy. Regardless, life goes on.

“We go to PTA meetings, we go to shops, when we get old enough if we’re lucky we can play with our grandchildren,” our guide Amir Orly said. “For us Israel is home.”