When Clevelanders watched the Cuban missile crisis unfold in the sixties, they were awestruck by the revelation of Soviet state secrets for display in its island puppet, just miles from the Miami coast. Repeated denials were the first reaction as the Soviets failed to recognize the United States information gathering technology. When photographs shot from spy planes were displayed at the UN Security Council, the Soviets opened up. President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev involved themselves in thirteen days of tense, direct, phone negotiation as America flexed her muscle, and the Soviets threatened to answer in kind.
While those two states were then locked in a cold war, mutually assured annihilation was enough of a risk to put an end to the immediate threat and at least lower the thermostat to a more tolerable level of continued angst.
In a report yesterday that appeared in several Israeli internet news outlets, including Virtual Jerusalem, it was reported that Hezbollah and Hamas are rushing to improve rockets that will hit the Dan Region of Israel, the coastal region which includes Israel’s largest metropolis, Tel Aviv.
Unlike the Soviets and Americans of the early sixties, the fighting between Palestinian forces and Israelis is hardly cold. While not at war, as Israel is very moderate in most of its retaliations, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have rained a steady barrage of missile fire on Israeli settlements and cities. Children have had to accommodate to the ongoing threat by spending far too much time, often weeks or more, living in bomb shelters. Unlike Soviets, who knew better than to threaten to destroy the United States, the Palestinians, particularly Hamas and Hezbollah, regularly refuse to recognize Israel’s existence as a sovereign state, and have in the past few months rejected call after call for recognition of Israel as the Jewish Homeland. Arabic news articles, school textbooks and a myriad of other written documents attest to the Palestinian desire not only to confront Israel and march her and her citizens into the sea, but too often, all of world Jewry as well. Palestinian maps do not show Israel at all, claiming all of the Jewish State as Palestinian territory.
That the United States government hardly takes official notice is lamentable. Perhaps it is not a matter of direct American concern. After our chilling September 11, just under a decade ago, one would think that our body politic would be more in tune with Israel’s needs and less prepared to accept Arab denials of hostility. One would think that as our armed forces struggle to strengthen democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan that those who continue to send our young men and women into harm’s way would be more supportive of the one constant ally and democracy in the Middle East.
Clevelanders, we must stand up for what is right. We must enlist our congressmen and senators to push the administration to more aggressively put an end to Israel’s Gaza Missile Crisis. Just as it took a president with temerity to ward off the Soviet aggression, it might require an American president with fortitude to shut down Hamas and Hezbollah belligerency.
Unlike Cuba where there was a threat, but no apparent plan to make use of the weapons, the missiles being prepared for Gaza are not being prepared as a deterrent. Can we afford to see them used? Can we allow ourselves to wait and see how Israel will defend herself? And if Israel does act, and uses the force that is her right to apply, will Clevelanders idly watch by as country after country will vilify her at the United Nations, rather than openly support her right to self defense, a defense which at times demands applying a good offense?
Each Sabbath Jews describe Israel in prayers as the first flower of redemption. How long can that flower blossom under constant attack?
Israel is now in its Cuban Missile Crisis. This time, perhaps we can do more than watch it unfold in the newspapers and television. It is not just a movie Thirteen Days, which is the only real hold many of our younger Ohioans have on the episode. It was real, it was dangerous, and as Americans we were frightened. Let’s act on that fear and help Israel avoid similar anguish before it is too late and before history sadly repeats itself again.