Tel Aviv Diary: Anti-Semitism in Europe and a Victory Speech From Hamas

Israeli soldiers hug each other as they mourn during the funeral of Israeli soldier Daniel Kedmi at his funeral in Tel Aviv July 29, 2014. Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

The day began early in Tel Aviv with the sirens going off at 2:30 am. Most of my household was still up, though I had gone to sleep at 2:00 am. It still seems like a dream hearing my son wake me up and soon after finding myself in our secure space. I have a vague memory of hearing the two explosions go off—one louder than the other—and then I went back to sleep.

It was a difficult night last night for all of Israel. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) announced the death of six soldiers, but rumors were circulating that another five might have been killed, bringing yesterday's potential death toll to 10.

By the morning the losses were confirmed. Nine out of the ten soldiers were actually killed inside Israel—five by an attack initiated through a tunnel and four from a mortar shell fired at Israel from inside Gaza.

Many Israelis were expecting to wake up to hear the IDF had taken additional actions in Gaza, in response to the actions of Hamas during the so-called "ceasefire," during which Hamas killed 10 Israelis. They woke up only to the news of the deaths.

Today was another day of uncertainty. Hamas is definitely running low on rockets. There were a few rockets fired at cities in the South today. This evening two rockets were fired at the Jerusalem area—one landed in an open field and the other was shot down. As I write this, it's 10:00 pm in Tel Aviv and the day has been largely quiet.

Well ... seems I wrote too soon. It is now 10:15 pm and there have just been rocket attacks on areas south of Tel Aviv. The sirens did not go off in Tel Aviv, but the intercepts could be heard clearly from my bedroom window. There were additional attacks on Ashdod. Though instead of sending multiple rockets at once, at this point Hamas is sending only one missile at a time.

There are continued talks about a ceasefire, this time (once again) with the help of the Egyptian government. It's unclear whether this effort is much more than wishful thinking.

The Head of Hamas's military wing, Mohamed Dief, gave a victory speech. This could be a speech representing the end of this recent conflict. On the other hand, Dief made it clear he would not agree to any interim ceasefire, only a ceasefire that addressed Hamas's grievances. So, despite talk about the end of the fighting being near, it is not clear that we are any closer than we were before.

The central story of the day has continued to focus on the Israeli government's relationship with the American government. While the Israeli government has been trying to tone down the conversation, the same cannot be said of the American government. Today, Secretary of State Kerry launched a nearly direct attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu, stating that it was Netanyahu who wanted a ceasefire.

The level of the attacks back and forth between the two became so bad tonight that a supposed transcript of a heated conversation between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu was leaked, and the White House issued a statement claiming it was false. A few minutes later, the Office of the Prime Minister issued an identical statement.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has been under relentless attack—not from the opposition but from members of his own party—for not taking more decisive action against Hamas. I do not think there has been a time when a sitting prime minister has been attacked during a war by members of his coalition to the same extent that Netanyahu has been attacked in the past few days by his coalition members—and even by members of his own party.

Israelis, when they are not looking in the sky for missiles, or worrying about their children serving in Gaza, look at the outside world with wonder and concern. Close by, the deaths continue in Syria. More people are dying in Syria (on a daily basis) than in our conflict. Last week alone, 1,700 people died.

Why the world does not seem to care is the question on most Israelis minds.

The other wonder and concern is directed at Europe. The level of anti-semitism that has developed in Europe in the past few weeks has shocked Israelis. To some extent I think most Israelis were not surprised by the anti-semitic incidents in France over the past few weeks, but what has shocked Israelis is the reports of the call in Berlin for Jews to go to the gas chambers.

It's ironic that those demonstrators who are demonstrating in favor of a government that claims Israel has no right to exist are proving to Israelis, in a way that nothing else could, why we need our own state.

Political historian Marc Schulman is the editor of An archive of his recent daily reports from Tel-Aviv can be found here. He is also a columnist for the Times of Israel.