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OPINION

COVID, Terror, and Our Future

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File

Since the outbreak of COVID, my youngest son has had a particularly hard time in school. He’s not unique. Millions of other children have had their education and socialization significantly interrupted. As parents, we have always attempted to do our best to help him navigate through the past two years’ challenges, admittedly for which nobody could have prepared. However, as quickly as the pandemic fell upon us closing down so much of our lives, conversely, its lingering consequences (like the cough I still can’t shake weeks after my own recovery) remain and continue to impact us adversely.  

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Like many schools and many teachers, despite the best intentions, there have been a multitude of failures, and many things slipping through the cracks. This week, my wife and I participated in a Zoom meeting with many other parents in his 11th grade class, concerned that the school has not done its job sufficiently.  As bad as it is for any children to have lost so much academically, for my son and his classmates, this year is a particularly critical year not just for their academics, but regarding their military service as Israelis which is a cornerstone of their future.  The school’s failures have not served them well.

Under the circumstances, this is all very normal, and we know we are not unique. However, there was an element of our conversation that was entirely unique and something, sadly, uniquely Israeli.

About halfway through the conversation with each parent expressing his or her concerns and agreement on 80 percent of the issues, one mother interjected to give a thought and then to excuse herself. She was not running to another Zoom meeting or other scheduling conflict which she couldn’t get out of.  As she introduced her comments, she shared that in her community, just a few miles away, there had been a terrorist infiltration and everybody in the community was on lock down. That’s why she had to leave the meeting abruptly.  We all expressed our concern if not exasperation at the situation.

And then, in a very Israeli form, we went on with our meeting.  We’ve learned that as bad as things get, and recently it’s been pretty bad, life must go on. There’s an element of determination and resilience in Israel that’s unique and connects to the fact that our sons and daughters serve in the army to defend us in situations exactly as this.

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Shortly afterward, my son came into the room to report that terrorists did indeed infiltrate his friend’s community.  After being seen climbing a security fence and being reported to the community’s rapid response team and the IDF, one of the terrorists was found outside the house of and threatening a member of the civilian security team who had just retrieved his M16.  The civilian security team member shot and killed the knife-wielding terrorist with whom he was face to face.

The other terrorists who tried to infiltrate escaped, but the community remained on lockdown as the IDF searched every yard and public space to be sure nobody was hiding out.  This happened in my neighborhood a few years ago so we could relate. Thankfully, no Israelis were injured by the Palestinian Arab terrorists.

Israel has been undergoing what’s been called a “wave of terror” which has now become more than a wave but a constant flow, with 20 Israelis and foreign civilians killed in the last several weeks, and dozens injured.

We’ve become used to this, and existing on high alert in many ways. Not including Palestinian Arabs who live and work among us, 20 percent of Israelis are Arabs.  Even though there’s security at every entrance to every mall, recently I had a thought that any Arab could enter a mall, buy a large knife, and go on a killing spree.   The other day I went to visit my grandchildren.  In front of their apartment is a school and there was a Palestinian Arab worker walking on the street exactly as school was being dismissed.  For a moment I was scared, and prayed that nothing would happen.   

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Scenes like this take place countless times, daily. Most are uneventful. But there’s still a need to increase civilian security to which the Genesis 123 Foundation has committed itself and is inviting others to join.

The fact that this local terrorist infiltration came this week is all the more jarring. It was exactly a year ago that, while threatening the “protection of Jerusalem,“ terrorists from Gaza began an 11-day bombardment of Israel, firing over 4,000 rockets at Israeli communities.  I remember exactly where I was as the first rockets landed just a few miles to the north, hearing the explosion and seeing the plume of smoke.   We were at a family wedding for which my son was released from the army for the day.  By the end of the ceremony, my daughters planned to drive him back to base along with my son-in-law who was among the first 5,000 reservists called upon. So much for a family celebration as four of us drove into a war zone.

This led to Israeli reprisals and 13 Israelis killed and dozens injured in what became known as Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Some pundits have written hopefully about passing the spring season (Ramadan, Passover, Israeli Independence Day) without an “escalation” that’s been worse. The problem with this thinking is that terror and evil are not seasonal.

It also neglects the fact that the beginning of Hamas firing rockets a year ago took place as we celebrated Jerusalem Day when, naturally, the Arab terrorists claim that Israel is threatening Jerusalem. That’s their excuse to incite threats of further violence. Not only has the wave of terror not trickled off, but Hamas and others continue to threaten a serious escalation of violence to “protect“ Jerusalem.  And Jerusalem Day, the day on which we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem under Israel’s sovereignty, is coming up on May 29.

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Barring peace breaking out, we will still be focused on our children’s military service as we realize security incidents and anniversaries like that of this week are not likely to end so fast.

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