I once had an acquaintance who slept so soundly he needed an air horn to wake him up in time to get to work. Seems like an apt comparison for our country today.
Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens lived in Israel during 2002 – 2004. During that time the Second Palestinian Intifada, inspired and led by Yasser Arafat, conducted a reign of terror mainly by suicide bombings in public places. The attacks came so often and were so pervasive that, as Stephens relates
“The army and police could not provide constant security, so every restaurant and supermarket hired an armed guard, every mall and hotel set up metal detectors, and people went out. More than a few attacks were stopped by lone Israeli civilians who prevented massacres through the expedient of a handgun.” (Emphasis added)
They very idea, civilians carrying handguns to defend themselves against criminals. Who would have thought?
“As for the Israeli government, after much hesitation it did what governments are supposed to do: It fought. In April 2002 then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent Israeli tanks into Jenin, Bethlehem and every other nest of Palestinian terror. He trapped Yasser Arafat in his little palace in Ramallah. He ordered the killing of Hamas’s leaders in Gaza.”
Israel was fortunate to have a no-nonsense leader in Sharon. It wasn’t his first rodeo—for taking firm action against ruthless enemies of Israel, or for receiving intense criticism. The prime minister’s “disproportionate” (how can any response to someone who is trying to kill you be “disproportionate”?) responses were
“. . . done in the teeth of overwhelming international condemnation and the tut-tutting of experts who insisted only a “political solution” could break the “cycle of violence.” Instead, the Israeli military broke that cycle by building a wall and crippling the Palestinians’ capacity to perpetrate violence. In 2002 there were 47 bombings. In 2007 the number had come down to one.”
Stephens perceives two lessons from the Israeli actions:
“One is that there is a benefit for a society that allows competent and responsible adults to carry guns, like the off-duty police officer who shot the knife-wielding [“unarmed”? Gimme a break.] jihadist in St. Cloud, Minn. Another is that there is an equal benefit in the surveillance methods that allowed police in New York and New Jersey to swiftly identify and arrest Mr. Rahimi before his bombing spree took any lives.
“These are lessons the political left in this country doesn’t want to hear, lest they unsettle established convictions that weapons can only cause violence, not stop it.
“Living in Israel in those crowded years taught me that free people aren’t so easily cowed by terror, and that jihadists are no match for a determined democracy. But it also taught me that democracies rarely muster their full reserves of determination until they’ve been bloodied one time too many.”
I fear that here in the United States of America, we yet to be bloodied one time too many. Air horns, anyone?
For Bret Stephens full column, see here