July 22nd, 2014

Israel needs to defend itself

The Hamas is playing a cynical game. It is targeting Western values; why does nobody there realize that? | An op-ed in the Süddeutsche Zeitung

Dr. Dieter Graumann, President of the Central Council
Dr. Dieter Graumann, President of the Central Council

Sirens sound the alarm in Cologne! On Saturday the sirens signalled alarm in the Rhine metropolis: piercing, penetrating, frightening. I happened to be there on a visit. A glance in the internet soon made it clear: this was only a regular check of the security systems; a practice alarm. It was over in a quarter of an hour. Everyday life went on as usual in Cologne, with Rhineland cheerfulness despite the bad weather.

I was standing at the window when the sirens sounded in Cologne and I counted to 15. That is how much time Israeli mothers have, when the sirens sound, to get their toddlers to safety before the blast. Old people have 15 seconds to flee to the safety of the bunkers. A school bus travelling along the road has only 15 seconds to come to a stop and for the children to find safe shelter. When the sirens sound in Israel it is not a practice alarm. It is the bitter reality of everyday life.

Since the Israeli army withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, in a gesture of good will, volleys of rockets have repeatedly terrorized the south of the Jewish State. Israel left at that time but peace did not come. The Hamas came and set up a ruthless and corrupt regime. This regime uses Gaza and the people living there to terrorize Israel with missiles. Nearly 1,000 rockets have been fired at Israel in the past six days – with the sole aim of killing Israeli civilians. Three and a half million people live within the range of these rockets. The Hamas does not care whether it strikes Israeli citizens or German tourists on a cruise liner. It does not matter to them whether it is Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Al Kuds, Jerusalem, one of the three holy towns in Islam, also comes under fire, in the name of Islam as the terrorists wrongly justify it. And no Muslim statesman or religious leader raises any objections.

Neither are any objections to be heard against the Hamas purposely storing weapons and rockets in mosques and cynically abusing their own people, their own children, by using them as human shields. With utter disregard for humanity the terrorists are setting up on the roofs of family homes their rocket launching pads and urging the occupants to stand alongside them. Because the Hamas is aware of the ethics of the Israeli army, which wants to avoid civilian victims in any military action.

It is, however, Israel’s duty and its legitimate right to protect its own people. And in order to do that it is absolutely essential to destroy the terror infra-structure. Regretfully, in doing this innocent people also lose their lives. Every civilian victim is one too many. But it is alone the Hamas with its Jihad ideology who is responsible for this.

Israel was also attacked recently from the Lebanon and Syria. Israel now faces threats from several fronts. The moral asymmetry could hardly be any greater. Israel wants to protect lives. The Palestine terrorists in contrast are conducting a cult of death – also on their own side. When there is a rocket alarm Israel sends the people to the bunkers – the Hamas sends the people up onto the roofs. How is it possible not to see the difference here? The people in Gaza must be finally freed. They must be freed from the Hamas who trample on human rights, discriminate against women, persecute homosexuals and torture political dissidents. Instead of investing in education and the future they are using all the money to buy weapons and all efforts are directed towards violence.

Israel, however, the only democratic country in the Middle East, is repeatedly vilified as the aggressor. Yes, Israel is even accused of being able to protect the people living there with its technological know-how. Fortunately it can! When the West blares out judgements on the “proportionality” of Israeli military actions they should once put themselves in the position of Israeli parents. They have to live daily with the uncertainty of whether they will even see again the schoolchildren they say goodbye to in the mornings. What is proportional to these fears?

At pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France and Holland, and also here in Germany, anti-Semitic chants and proclamations resound through the streets meanwhile. The degree of hate and agitation that confronts us, also in German streets, is shocking. We will never accept anti-Semitic agitation in the middle of our towns. Neither will we silently acquiesce to synagogues again being besmirched and attacked, as happened in Frankfurt and Paris last weekend.

And let us not forget: the godfathers of terror sit in Teheran. Without the murderous energy of the aggressive Mullah regime, without their weapons and their money the Hamas would be nothing! Why can people not see the differences?

In Israel extremists are punished to the sharpest degree for the death of a Palestinian youth – quite rightly. On the Palestinian side, however, the murderers of the three previously kidnapped teenagers are celebrated as heroes.

Even every suicide attacker is similarly revered and streets are named after them at the instruction of political leaders. Why is the world turning a blind eye to this?

Israel must defend itself. Israel must protect itself. Israel must continue to survive as a beacon of freedom, equal rights, and democracy in the Middle East, as defender of our Western values.

On Saturday, when I heard the sirens sound in Cologne I thought: What would happen if Gaza were at our very door? And then I realized: Gaza is virtually at our door. The Hamas does not want to destroy Israel alone. In its charter it declares murder on all Jews as its official programme. And together with the global Islamic terror movement the Hamas is fighting against the values for which we also stand here: freedom, tolerance, equal opportunities and democracy.

Our values are also being defended in Israel. We should, therefore, stand by Israel’s side more than ever in these difficult times, in solidarity and wholeheartedly. So that it will eventually be nothing more than a practice alarm when the sirens sound in Israel. Like last weekend in Cologne.

Dr. Dieter Graumann, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany

Central Council of Jews in Germany. All rights reserved.
(Translation: Angela Rosien)