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Again on a personal note, here in Beersheva we were awoken Saturday night by the eerie wail of sirens and heard, a couple of minutes later, the jarring explosion of a rocket that was aimed at the city but landed in an open field. Soon afterward another rocket hit the nearby, smaller town of Netivot, badly damaging two houses and sending several people into shock.
The rockets were, of course, fired from Gaza, from which Israel withdrew completely seven years ago. While that withdrawal was initiated by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, it was much praised in the West and in keeping with almost monolithic diplomatic admonitions to find “peace” by always being the party to withdraw, concede, and capitulate.
The recent Israeli rightward drift may have demographic components, including the large immigrant population from the former Soviet Union, which tends to be nationalistic and realistic about security affairs, and a steadily growing religious population. But it is mainly a response to experience, particularly the turning of all areas from which Israel has retreated (the West Bank, Gaza, southern Lebanon, Sinai) into sources of terror, the emergence of an Islamist regime in Egypt and of violent chaos in Syria, and the ongoing Iranian threat.
It’s to be hoped that whoever does emerge as U.S. president in November can appreciate this trend and the reasons for it, and refrain from treating Israel as an entity to be cajoled and pressured into still further withdrawals or, failing that, blamed for the fact that it does not exist in a zone of amity and tranquility.
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