Once again, Israel is being attacked. But this time around, after having been to Israel, I know what kind of danger they are in.
It is striking. If Israel was proportionate in size to all the attention it gets from the U.N. and the world press, Israel would be at least as big as Russia. But alas, it is smaller than England, and its borders much less defensible. And there’s no Israeli Channel to buffer surrounding hostile governments. There is no way around it: Israel is a mighty small chunk of land.
This realization struck me hard when I was in Haifa visiting Lihi, my tour bus guard and medic. The havdallah stars had finally come out and we were visually touring the gorgeous area from atop the Baha’i Gardens. “There is the main harbor and way up there is Rosh HaNikra. Everything past that is Lebanon.”
I turned my head and did a double take. “Wait… That’s where Hezbollah fired off the rockets from in 2006? That close to Haifa?” It can’t be more than a twenty-minute drive, I thought.
“Yes, the rockets easily reach here,” Lihi said. “Rockets could have hit where we’re standing now. They were only fired during the day though, so we slept well at night. Harder to see from where the rockets come during the day.”
No illusions of natural security here. Israelis work tirelessly to maintain every bit of their security.
Now, Haifa isn’t currently in any danger from the Gaza rockets. But a large civilian-populated area is currently being fired upon. And Israelis have already died.
My hope with this little piece is to remind you how geographically small Israel is and how immensely important defense issues are. Being attacked in Israel is the historical status quo. But we in the diaspora have a duty to recall and remember what the citizens and soldiers are dealing with before we heap on solutions and advice.
The fear is real and tangible. Especially in times of war.