Has Israel Lost Control over the Iranian Situation? If So, There's No Shelter That Can Protect Israelis from the "Great White Mushroom Cloud."

By Ragen, Naomi | Moment, July-August 2012 | Go to article overview

Has Israel Lost Control over the Iranian Situation? If So, There's No Shelter That Can Protect Israelis from the "Great White Mushroom Cloud."


Ragen, Naomi, Moment


On the sleepy afternoon of March 21, 2012, alarm sirens went off all over Jerusalem, sending me and my racing heart lunging toward our air raid shelter. Squeezed in among my neighbors, bags of old clothes and various bicycles, I found my mind wandering back to elementary school at the Hebrew Institute of Long Island. "Get down beneath your desks and cover your heads with your hands," Mrs. Ganeles instructed us. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis. But I remember thinking even back then: This is ludicrous. Nothing is going to save us from that great white mushroom cloud.

Being a Jew in Israel as Iran's self-proclaimed genocidal regime methodically prepares its annihilation fantasy makes me feel like the lobster in the "How to cook a lobster" recipe: "First put the lobster into a large pot of warm water, then slowly turn up the heat." Having made aliyah more than 40 years ago, I, along with the rest of my fellow Israeli citizens, am no ingenue when it comes to being maligned, threatened and physically attacked. For years now, we Israelis have been hearing ourselves described in vicious Nazi terms by the Iranian mullahs. Back in 2001, they called us "thieves and criminals." In 2008, we were likened to "a black and filthy microbe," and in 2011 to a "cancer cell" that must be removed.

Threats to wipe Israel off the map are nothing new either. In my senior year of high school, on May 16, 1967, Cairo Radio declared: "The existence of Israel has continued too long ... The battle has come in which we shall destroy Israel." The Six Day War followed, and for a time we all lived in the afterglow of defeating our blowhard enemies. It didn't last long. Wars with various other names followed: Yom Kippur, Lebanon, Galilee Peace ...

But this time, I feel we are facing something completely new This time it's not a war with tanks and foot soldiers and airplanes, the kind of war that takes weeks and months and where our old, our women, children and grandchildren are safe behind front lines. It's not even a barrage of missiles with conventional warheads landing outside as we sit safely in our shelters--something citizens in Israel's south and north have already experienced. This time it an existential threat. This time it's the next, or the final, Six Million. This time it's everything that is dear to me in life, my children and grandchildren. My country. The miracle of a reborn Israel.

How do you prepare for that?

Until very recently, I managed, like most Israelis, to hold on to a comforting sense of denial even as I viewed the step-by-step progress of Iran's nuclear program. …

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