Two or three weeks ago, during a sing-along evening held in Petah Tikva in memory of singer and songwriter Uzi Hitman, Ze'ev Rapp and his wife sat in the row behind me.
Here's a personal confession: I am very fond of Ze'ev Rapp and his family members. I see them as the embodiment of what Zionism should be: On the one hand, simplicity and bluntness to the point of callousness, hostility and lack of trust in our Arab neighbors. On the other hand, a real and refined understanding of the need for peace, without which we have no life on this land.
You're now saying to yourself: Rapp? Rapp? That name sounds familiar… Rapp? Let me remind you: His daughter, Helena, was murdered by an Arab terrorist with a knife near a bus stop on her way to her school in Bat Yam in 1992.
He, Ze'ev, had every reason in the world to have a deathly hatred of the enemy. And yet he suppressed his animosity and joined the journey to peace. Ze'ev Rapp, a bereaved father, a proud Zionist.
We have already experienced the "knife terrorism" in our local history. In the early 1990s, Jews were afraid to walk on the streets. The "knife terrorism" was explained and interpreted at the time as the weapon of the weak, the lone, those who are not organized in terror organizations, those who have no weapons. And our masters and teachers would have said: That just goes to show. And in other words they would have said: Don't lie to yourselves.
In the past 20 years, the terror organizations have progressed from the knife terrorism to the missile and rocket terrorism. Hezbollah, for example, has 100,000 missiles and rockets, and some would say much more. On the last day of Operation Protective Edge, the submissive, miserable, defeated Hamas fired dozens of missiles at rockets at Israeli territory.
It's very true that both the State of Israel and the IDF have made a lot of progress throughout the years. We have the most advanced aircraft in the world. We have tanks. We don't have weapons against kitchen knives.
Despite all that has been said so far, we continue to believe and live and act as if we are the kings of the world. We are second to none. We have brought the art of "deterrence" to new levels. The terror organizations are afraid of us. The Arab armies are aware of our strength. They wouldn't dare (wouldn’t dare? And what was the Yom Kippur War all about?) We have worshipped and praised, and been blessed with deterrence.
The truth is that there is no such thing as deterrence. Perhaps there used to be, but it's dead and buried. Gone. The periods between the various wars and intifadas are preparation periods, mainly for the Arab armies and terror organizations. They too have realized, perhaps tardily, that there is no need to fight all the time. They have realized that they should get organized, collect many weapons, think, plan and only then hit the bloody road.
We can shout in fiery conferences, "Who is in favor of destroying terror?" (And who isn't, actually?) And we can lie to ourselves that this operation or another did in fact destroy terror, but that's completely wrong.
We can't destroy the thoughts of revenge and frustration of Palestinians and others who grab a knife from the kitchen and go out to hunt Jews. We can kill a thousand terror activists, jail half a million of them in mass prisons. We can't kill an entire people that wants to kill us.
It's a matter of years, it's a matter of education, and it's a long-term matter of living in the shadow of terror and understanding and preparation that if we and our neighbors will not have a peaceful life here in the future, the people around us - and most likely we too – will live in hell.