Watching the short clip you cannot help but feel you are seeing a fictional scene produced by Hollywood. A rocket is fired at civilians and a missile immediately launches swirling through the sky until it calculates the trajectory of the incoming missile, changing course to meet it high in the sky where it explodes without damaging or threatening anyone below. But this scene isn’t computer generated or the result of special effects. It is a reality playing itself out every few minutes throughout almost the entire width and breadth of our beloved Israel, thanks to the miracle of Iron Dome.
When the researchers at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, an Israeli defense company suggested that they could create a system that would launch missiles to meet rockets in the sky and explode them they were laughed at by their colleagues in America and around the world. Yet their resolve didn’t diminish, for as they say- necessity is the mother of invention.
Early versions of Iron Dome required great improvisation. One of the creators described, “As scientists we dream to sit in our offices without limitations of time and budget and to develop perfect products. But the reality is different, and these constraints forced us to think hard. There are parts in the system forty times cheaper than the parts we buy normally. I can give you even a scoop – it contains the world’s only missile components from Toys R Us…One day I brought to work my son’s toy car. We passed it among us, and we saw that there were actually components suitable for us. More than that I can not tell.”
Manufacturing and operating Iron Dome installations is not inexpensive. The original funding came from Israel, but since then, the United States has provided over one billion dollars of funding to provide more installations and support the cost of operating the system. A tremendous debt of gratitude is owed to Congress and the Administration who have been overwhelmingly supportive in providing the funding necessary to allow Iron Dome to be the protective shield in the sky that Israel sadly needs.
In the last few days alone, hundreds and hundreds of rockets have been launched at Israel, some reaching far distances and cities that have not yet been vulnerable to rocket attacks from Gaza. Remarkably, in this latest escalation, the Iron Dome system has over a 90% success rate of taking out rockets on trajectories towards populated areas. Indeed, it has been reported that Hamas is growingly frustrated with Iron Dome’s success rendering their rocket attacks futile.
Bli ayin ha’rah, despite the enormous amount of rockets fired over the last week there have been no casualties. This extraordinary fact is nothing short of miraculous. We must not take the kindness of the Almighty for granted, nor the ingenuity of Israel or the generosity of the American government and people.
While Iron Dome is doing an incredible job defending the State of Israel from the rocket offensive, there is a second front to Israel’s war even before a ground attack is potentially launched. It is easy to dismiss the lies, distortions and bias against Israel prevalent today in some of the media and among much of the world. One is tempted to remember the prophecy from last week’s parsha (Balak 23:9), “Hein am levadad yishkon, they are a nation destined to be isolated and alone,” and to not even bother to demand accurate, fair and just reporting.
But, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men teaches (Mishlei 18:21) “Maves v’chaim b’yadha‘lashon, death and life are in the power of the tongue.” It goes without saying that we need to use our power of speech to daven from the depths of our hearts and beseech the Ribono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe to guard and protect our brothers and sisters in Israel and the members of the IDF. But the pasuk means something more. Words, articles, op-eds, interviews, blogs and posts matter. They shape popular opinion, which in turn shapes policy, policies like funding for Iron Dome, military cooperation and international lawsuits.
Verbal rockets are being launched at Israel hourly in the form of moral equivalencies, doctored images, misinformation, criticism, and unfair calls for restraint. Some flinging these dangerous and at times lethal missiles do so intentionally and strategically while others are simply poorly informed and ignorant.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, was interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper who asked him about the civilian deaths in the current operation. Dermer asks him, “What do you think America would do if over 200 million Americans were in bomb shelters? What do you think the American people would demand that their government do? Do you think that America would use less force than Israel is using now?” Tapper responds, “The hypothetical is essentially meaningless because is America building housing in Mexico at the time?” Dermer, who somehow remains calm, explains that Israel removed 10,000 of its citizens from Gaza and don’t occupy one inch of it. Yet, since we left, there have been over 8,000 rockets. One can’t help but wonder, in offering the absurd parallel to Mexico, is Tapper just ignorant or is he slanted?
The New York Times bias towards Israel has already been demonstrated before, but this week they hit a new low. Their coverage has been egregiously misleading to the point that they had to issue a correction after misrepresenting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reaction to the murder of a Palestinian teenager.
While there is nothing we can do to shoot down rockets flying into Israel, there is much we can and must do to be the Iron Dome protecting Israel from verbal rockets from around the world. Part of the genius of Iron Dome is that it calculates the anticipated target of the rocket and only shoots it down if it is headed towards a populated area. We too need to be judicious and thoughtful in our effort to defend from verbal attacks.
We should not waste time, energy or resources pursuing futile avenues like debating people in the comments sections of online articles or being drawn into endless Facebook and Twitter discussions that serve either as echo chambers of like-minded individuals, or escalations of counterproductive vitriol and rhetoric.
Instead, like Iron Dome, we need to respond in efficient and meaningful ways. Write letters to the editor of local, national and international newspapers and submit op-eds and editorials. Engage your co-workers, neighbors, people at the gym or fellow shoppers at the supermarket and share the truth about Israel’s just operation to protect her citizens from terrorist attacks. Let them know that Israel has one of the most moral armies in the world and takes exemplary measures to protect civilians in Gaza. Encourage them to take the time to learn the facts, not just rely on headlines as a source of information. If you need help articulating Israel’s position or learning more about the facts, not just the headlines, AIPAC has wonderful talking points on their website AIPAC.org
Reach out to government officials from the administration, your senators and representatives, down to your local elected officials like your city’s mayor and others. Challenge them to publicly support Israel’s right to take all measures necessary to protect her citizens against Hamas, a terror organization that is violating human rights by firing rockets at civilians while at the same time using their own civilians as shields. Ask them to be clear and unequivocal in their message and to issue a press release, post on Twitter and Facebook and make a speech from the floor if appropriate.
The creators of Iron Dome were told it could not be done, but they persevered because the safety of Israel needed them. Don’t believe that nothing can be done to fight back against the distortions, bias and verbal attacks against Israel. Your phone call, letter, conversation or post could influence policy and public opinion in real and meaningful ways. Persevere, because the safety of Israel needs all of us.