We are a world away from the problems in Israel

The recent suicide bombing of the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, Israel in which both Arabs and Jews were killed lead to a turning point in how Israel will deal with international terrorism. This was a particularly nasty attack in which the female suicide bomber casually entered Maxim, a popular restaurant in the seaside town of Haifa that is owned jointly by Israeli-Arabs and Jews. According to reports, the suicide bomber sat down at a table as if she were going to order something to eat. But underneath her clothes was an explosives vest that when detonated killed 19 and left over 50 wounded.

Among the dead were young children, mothers, and both Arabs and Jews who were enjoying a Sunday afternoon meal. The female suicide bomber was affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, a radical fundamentalist group committed to Israel’s destruction and which has carried out terrorist attacks against Israel in the past.

The female suicide bomber, who was from the Palestinian territories, had recently lost a brother and a cousin, who were affiliated with terrorist groups, to raids by the Israeli Defense Forces. She decided to take out her vengeance on the unsuspecting people in Maxim’s restaurant. As one of the few democratic states in the hostile region of the Middle East, Israel has a right to defend itself against Islamic fundamentalist groups committed to Israel’s destruction. Along with the right of self-defense inherent to any nation, Israel also has a duty to protect its citizens who are under constant assault from terrorist attacks.

This summer I traveled to Israel as part of a University of Miami Hillel trip to Jerusalem to study the Jewish religion and learn more about the fascinating country. I found a dynamic and vibrant scene where people of many different ethnic and religious backgrounds come together. The threat of terrorism, however, is a constant strain on the psyche of the people and the economy has suffered from decreasing numbers of Western tourists visiting the Holy Land.

Here at UM we are a world away from the problems of the Middle East. But with continued attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and terrorism in Israel, it’s hard to ignore grim reality. Fortunately, here at UM we have a culturally diverse campus and a strong Judaic studies department that hosts lectures on Israel and the Middle East. I encourage all students interested in the events in Israel and the Middle East to attend the lectures and open discussion here on our campus.

Ben Enfield can be contacted at benjamin_enfield@hotmail.com.