Rising tension along the Israeli border with Gaza -- including the ground invasion this weekend — deserves our careful attention, but for most Americans, it's hard to understand the very unique situation that exists.
In August, I visited Israel for the tenth time. I've been in virtually every nation of that region at some point in the past 35 years, including Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, even Syria.
I've been to Gaza, Beersheba, and in August spent a day in Sderot, the community just yards from the Gaza border that has suffered the most from the incessant rocket attacks from Hamas even during a supposed cease-fire.
I had the opportunity to meet with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as fly in a helicopter along the Israeli border with Gaza.
I stood on a rooftop in Sderot and could see with my own eyes the Gaza border from which rockets were launched indiscriminately into homes, schools and playgrounds.
I stood in the homes where the ceilings were punctured by rockets fired into homes.
I looked at the stockpile of rockets collected behind the police station and actually held one of them in my hands.
For those who don't understand the Israeli decision to use military force against a Hamas government that even our own State Department recognizes as a terrorist organization, let me try to put it in perspective:
What would Americans expect if Canadians just across the border from Michigan or Buffalo, New York starting firing crude rockets into the homes, schools, churches, stores and playgrounds of innocent citizens?
What if it happened several thousand times? Would we accept some additional talks? A continued cease-fire that had already been ignored? We would be demanding that we respond swiftly and strongly.
The photos of civilian casualties and collateral damage in Gaza among the Palestinians are very disturbing. It can be stopped, but only by Hamas. They have to not only stop their rocket attacks and be accountable for the past, but they must openly acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and to have secure borders.
The real question is not why Israel is responding, but rather, what took them so long?
That's my view, I would love to hear yours. E-mail your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org