I was recently sent the following op-ed by Stephen J. Kohn — a former American Business Executive who has been living the past 12 years in Israel. I am reproducing it for others as the major search engines don’t seem to be picking it up. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Kohn and I believe that he’s spot on with his analysis.

Restraint, Cycle of Violence and Confidence Building Measures

By Stephen J. Kohn

These three expressions-Restraint, Cycle of Violence and Confidence Building Measures-are code names for Israel to “cool” it. Be suicide bombed, have your soldiers kidnapped or live in a world of vitriolic anti-Semitic and anti-Israel scorn, and the three terms are tossed out in the stentorian voices of Seville suited Arab diplomats and quoted by snide BBC, New York Times and CNN reporters and the Secretary General of the UN to keep us in check. These expressions are most important when terrorist organizations (AKA as militants) do their deeds and Israel, exercising its right to self-defense, is told to hold back.

Always Israel is told to hold back because, well, because we are Israel and the world has become used to telling Jews to hold back for Millennia. As in my grandfather’s case. Taking a ferryboat at the turn of the century he was accosted, so the family tradition says, by a baseball player. Seeing my grandfather’s beard, he felt it deserved to be pulled as hard as his home run hitting arms would allow. My grandfather, for self-defense, bit the ball player’s hand. Moreover, the judge (it was my grandfather who was arrested), said “Couldn’t you restrain yourself?”

Well, we as Jews and Israelis have been holding back, somehow expecting that our confidence building holding back would bring us favor with Moslems or the civilized world. Just like my naïve grandfather must have thought as he nursed his bruised chin.

So now, as before, we have decided to attack in return. Instantly the factors that caused our reaction are set in the next to last paragraphs of the news stories, and our reaction is balanced with that of the Moslem aggressor as if pulling the Jew’s beard is natural and his biting back was an unnatural act.

As I write this, CNN.com’s headline is “Israel Strikes Beirut’s Airport”, BBC’ “Israel Blockades Lebanese Waters” and the New York Times’ “Israelis Enter Lebanon after Attack”. The fact that rockets have been bombarding Northern and Southern Israel, with injuries and deaths, seems to be far less important to these ‘objective’ sources of information on the waters and concrete runways near Beirut.

And a report on Japan’s reaction to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, a strong threat, seems quite logical, but Israel’s reaction to 800 to 1000 Kassams, we are told, should not rekindle the “Cycle of Violence”. The bombed houses in Sderot never seem to be worth a picture, those in Gaza and Beirut are.

Perhaps those sitting in Europe or in Peace Cafes in Boston will continue to view us as warmongers. Perhaps these folk would react with restraint to another mega terrorist disaster in their midst. We here do not have that luxury. In this part of the world, despite the attempts at calming us, gestures of restraint have only one meaning – weakness. In addition, enraged reactions might cause some apoplectic reactions by Arab leaders and European diplomats, but here we know that no matter what we do, in certain quarters, it will be condemned.

In populations that still cannot accept that Moslems blew up the Twin Towers, not the Jews and Americans, we really cannot expect too much understanding on anything we do. And that is why, more and more of us, right, center, and left, are saying, “We will do what we have to do”.

And if we need to bite off a finger to stop the scourge of terror and kidnapping and verbal assault, we will do, just as my grandfather threatened to. Since the judge has spoken anyway, why not commit the ‘crime’ of securing our safety?

And since even giving back Gaza and Southern Lebanon and promising much more over the last 120 years has never brought us peace, it is doubtful if many of us will support a new slew of Confidence Building Measures, abstain from the Cycle of Violence and practice Restraint. Perhaps, a bit of effort at ‘manipulating’ our foes is in order. We know them very well, and with continued appeasement, so will most other non-Moslem nations (and Iraq), as well. That is those who have not already been attacked.

Steve Kohn

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