We’re Still Here

Kiryat Shmona is Israel’s northernmost city, located near the Lebanese border in the scenic Hula Valley. Until hit by a rocket launched by terrorists from southern Lebanon in July, it was primarily out of the news, giving way to southern Israel, which is terrorized regularly by Hamas missiles from Gaza.

But Kiryat Shmona is a story in itself, one that defines the Israeli determination never to surrender to those who want to destroy the Jewish state.

The town of some 23,000 residents has a bomb shelter under every building and a history certifying the necessity of the shelters. During the 2006 Lebanon war, for example, 1,015 Katyusha rockets pummeled the town. For the locals, most of whom were forced to evacuate during the worst of the conflict, the barrage was simply one more hate-filled attempt to annihilate them.

Over the years, almost indescribable terrorist atrocities have been committed against the men, women, and children who call Kiryat Shmona home. From the mid-1970s until 2000, the town was pounded almost daily by attacks from Lebanon. On April 11, 1974, three terrorists crossed into Kiryat Shmona and murdered 18 residents in an apartment building, including many Israeli children, before being killed.

One of the worst atrocities occurred in nearby Ma’alot when the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine attacked a Jewish elementary school, taking 115 hostages, 105 of them children. Ultimately, 25 hostages, including children, were killed and 68 wounded by enemy grenades and automatic weapons. Ever since it was founded in 1949, Kiryat Shmona and its environs have struggled for survival.

However, no matter how difficult life became after every missile shower or terrorist incursion, the townspeople kept returning home. In fact, their story becomes a microcosm of what is transpiring throughout the Middle East. Islamic fanatics aspire for global domination and the destruction of Israel. But in their drive to establish a jihadist Muslim caliphate, they underestimate the people of the little Israeli island of democracy and freedom.

From the midst of the rocket attacks comes a story that stands as an inspiring exhibition of the fiber of these Israelis who possess the will to survive and retain their chosen way of life, and it comes to us from the embattled town of Kiryat Shmona.

During one of the attacks, a mother was in a shelter with her child, awaiting the end of the ordeal. As they waited, she related incidents of the Holocaust in Europe and how the Nazis were determined to complete their proclaimed “final solution to the Jewish problem.” To be sure her child understood the lesson, she asked, “Do you think the Nazis won?”

Her child thought for a moment, then replied, “No mother, they did not win.”

“And how do you know that?”

“Because we’re still here.” From the lips of a child came the words the world still needs to learn: “We’re still here” echo the watchword of the Jewish nation, though they came from another place, another time: “Masada, Never Again.”

Some people have described the current generation of Americans as “the throwaway generation.” There is more to the term than a casual reference to disposable utensils. America is being ravished by a well-planned and carefully orchestrated mission to destroy the way of life that has made the nation an unequalled bastion of liberty, freedom, and human rights. Too many of our rights are being thrown away with hardly a whimper of objection or resistance from the majority of the population.

Do we have the stuff that will bring us back from the brink, as the beleaguered people of Kiryat Shmona do? Or have we become a nation bereft of the determination to preserve and protect our God-given, sacred trust?

Perhaps with prayer God will bring a revival the likes of which shook the country in other days. Those possessing the “still here” spirit of love for God and faith in His power and promises believe it could happen. We pray it will be so.

Will America become a restored “Never Again” testimonial of hope, or will it lie under an epitaph that reads, “The Great Nation That Once Was”? These issues must be addressed before it is too late.

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