Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system intercepts rockets fired by Hamas on May 16, 2012, in Gaza. (Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)
Our puppy ran in circles, barking and shaking, my teenagers woke suddenly, calling us in frantic voices to the shelter, my husband ensured we’re all inside, bolting and sealing our heavy bomb-proof door. Hamas was back on the rampage, indiscriminately blasting rockets and missiles aimed at Israeli civilians in the middle of the night.
Thankfully, Israel and Hamas agreed on a cease fire Thursday. But it’s scary, and heartbreaking to see my kids going through these last several days as if it’s normal. But it’s also heartbreaking for me to watch misinformation spread on social media, and entertainers promoting anti-Semitism.
I’m not ashamed to say how proud I am of Israel, which is about 21% Arab, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. The diverse Jewish state has mosques, churches, temples, shrines and other safe religious places of worship. The Israel citizenry I know and love is a colorful mosaic of Druze, Bedouin, Christian, Muslim, Jewish and many other religions. Neither race, religion, sexuality, gender, nor skin color disqualifies you from being a Knesset member, prime minister, Supreme Court justice, Olympic athlete, tech founder, or anything else.
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In 135 A.D., after crushing the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt, the Romans sought to punish the Jews and strip us of our heritage and revived the name “Palaestina” to describe Judea. Theft of this name is a grave cultural appropriation and historical manipulation that we continue to see today as the terrorist group in charge in Gaza attempts to erase and bury the indigenous Jewish connection to the land of Israel, and our rich and ancient history here.
Israelis want to live without fear
Today, many people are not only afraid to openly support Israel, but also to admit they are Jewish. Physical attacks and anti-Semitic acts by pro-Palestine supporters on Jews across Europe and the United States this past week are ignored.
Miriam Lottner with her puppy Caramel in the family bomb shelter in the south of Israel in May 2021. (Photo: Family handout)
In 2021, even Jews and Israelis should have the right to live without persecution. This persecution is clearly stated in Hamas’s charter, which calls explicitly for the eradication of the state of Israel and the murder of all Jews. Hamas proudly chants their genocidal views from the rooftops.
It may seem innocuous when Palestine supporters chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” if you don’t understand Israel’s geography. In fact, “from the river to the sea” encompasses the entire geographical area of modern Israel and would wipe the country from the map.
Let me be clear, there is suffering in Gaza, especially under the brutal dictatorship of Hamas. No doubt, there is suffering from Israeli retaliation, too. For this, no Israeli rejoices.
But faced with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist, killing political opponents, persecuting and torturing gay men and women, repressing women’s rights, enslaving children with forced labor, and stealing humanitarian aid, Israel is blackmailed into self-defense. Annihilated if we don’t defend ourselves, and damned by the world when we do.
Hamas endangers lives in Gaza
Israel takes extraordinary efforts to minimize civilian casualties including by warning targets. But there will be casualties whenever Hamas attacks and forces their own people to serve as human shields.
Sitting in the shelter, I wait for the explosions that follow the firing of each missile directed at our homes. I look at my girls and know that for their sake, I’ll remain an ally and advocate for freedom, women’s rights, gay rights, religious freedoms, and cultural, and racial understanding for everyone – no matter what religion and where they dwell.
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But mostly for my girls, I’ll speak up for the truth, for their right to live as Jews. When others plan and promote our annihilation, refusing our rights to self-defense, denying our culture, stealing our heritage, and our history, we can’t be silent. Please, find another solution where the annihilation of Israel isn’t the only way to help people in Gaza get out from under the terrorism inflicted by Hamas.
Miriam Lottner's puppy, Caramel, inside the family bomb shelter in the south of Israel in May 2021. (Photo: Family handout)
That steady booms and drum of war tells me the Iron Dome has miraculously worked again. Each night we trudge back to our beds from the bomb shelter, hopeful that when we wake up tomorrow, the world will awaken with the conviction that Jews not only have a right to exist, but to defend ourselves, and continue to thrive and innovate on this tiny slice of land we’ve always called home.
Miriam Lottner grew up in Southern California and is a 25 year veteran of the Israeli technology scene. She lives in the south of Israel.
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