Mar 5, 2018

The New Old West

“Israel’s tragic history with terror attacks has required Israel to learn how to secure all public spaces and deploy forces to major civilian thoroughfares. And it has also taught Israelis to be brave.” (Caroline Glick, February 2018)

Who knew that American culture would unravel to the point the country would be divided, the Second Amendment would be under assault, and we are open to advice from friends?

The latest mass school shooting, in south Florida, has resulted in an eruption between Right and Left. High school students who survived Nikolas Cruz and his murderous rampage are demanding that lawmakers implement gun control measures. Some of them are becoming media figures, such as David Hogg.

As usual, Israel is experienced and has some wisdom. I well remember my first trip there, 20 years ago, and seeing guards with Uzis in restaurants, malls, and on the streets. At first it was almost disorienting, but I came to see the wisdom in it, given the madness of some Palestinians. The same murderous spirit in them led Cruz to kill 17.

Many of us would be fine with “going back” to the 1950s, or whatever era we’d feel comfortable in. But that won’t happen. We now live in a society that is altered by terrorism, both Islamic and homegrown. Crazies gonna crazy.

I’m not at all comfortable that many leaders in this country have the right answers. Even Republicans (often simply Establishment politicians, little different from their Democrat counterparts) and some conservatives are calling for gun control measures.

The goal, of course, is the eventually disarm the citizenry. That is where Barack Obama’s radical worldview will lead.

As we navigate through this “Brave” New World, we would do well to adopt some principles that keep Israelis safe.

“When mass shootings take plan in the U.S., commentators routinely raise Israel as a case study to prove that guns in the hands of citizens save lives.

“Israel, with its long and painful history of contending with terrorism, is rich with examples that prove this contention. In recent years, armed citizens have stopped dozens of terrorists. In some cases, those citizens acted when cowardly police officers shrank from danger.

“For instance, on March 6, 2008, a terrorist disguised as a delivery man entered the Merkaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem with an assault rifle hidden in a television box. He opened fire on students studying in the library.

“Two beat cops arrived on the scene but failed to enter the building to stop the killing.

“In the event, a seminary student armed with a handgun, and an off duty infantry officer who lived in the neighborhood, heard the shots and ran to the seminary. The student, a young rabbi, was armed with a handgun; the officer was carrying his assault rifle. Both men ignored the police officers who told them not to go inside. They entered the building and killed the terrorist, ending the massacre. By the time they arrived, eight students, including five high school students, had been killed, while eight more were wounded.”

Glick makes an interesting point in her Jerusalem Post column: hesitation on the part of some in Tel Aviv—a much more Westernized city than any other in Israel—resulted in people getting killed. In contrast, those in the Heartland, Judea and Samaria (including Jerusalem) rush to the scene and take out a killer.

There are issues however with the way Israel does things in order to keep the populace safe. As Glick states:

“Israel’s gun laws are the nightmare of Second Amendment champions. To be eligible for a gun license in Israel you must be 21 years old and a military veteran, or 27 years old.

“Only people who meet specific criteria are eligible to apply for gun permits. Israelis who live or work in communities defined as at-risk from a national security perspective by the government can apply for gun licenses. Farmers, tour guides, and people who transport hazardous materials are permitted to carry a gun. Military officers and NCOs on active duty may carry a personal handgun. Veterans of special forces units and other elite security services are permitted to carry a gun. Retired senior officers are entitled to carry a gun.”

Obviously, there are elements common in Israel that would not work in America. We still retain a very strong impulse that drove our Founders: total freedom. To be clear, I am not in favor of any legislation that dilutes the Second Amendment. What I think is excellent about the Israeli model is the fact that guns are visible and clearly deter lunatics and cowards.

And lunatics and cowards are a growing community in our beloved America.