David Frum’s diary: When Hamas shoots at Israel, they’re shooting at my kid

From rural Canada to the bomb shelters of Tel Aviv

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

 Wellington, Ontario

A British visitor to this village might be disoriented by the flags. They look almost exactly like the Union Jack, but not quite. These banners omit the Cross of St Patrick, which was bundled into the flag of the United Kingdom only in 1801: this is the earlier version, carried north to Canada by the losers of the American revolution. My wife and I and our three children have been spending summers in Wellington since the late 1980s, when her parents bought a disused tomato farm with a vast view of Lake Ontario. Back then, this part of Ontario was bypassed by modern development. In the years since, however, winemakers, organic farmers, and rising young chefs have converged upon verdant, sunny Prince Edward County (not to be confused with Anne of Green Gables’ island a thousand miles to the east). For the first time since the 1780s, this little peninsula jutting into the inland ocean of North America has begun to attract newcomers, and soon our small colony of Washington DC Jews may rank not far behind the descendants of the veterans of Waterloo among the longer-settled residents of this bucolic place.

A quiet rural county in a peaceable dominion may seem a planet removed from the violence of the Middle East. But my wife and I wake up before six to read about the latest rocket attack upon Israel from Gaza. Our eldest daughter, Miranda, travelled to Tel Aviv in search of adventure early last year. She was recruited by a local modelling agency, and her face now decorates magazines and billboards. Her body, however, is frequently to be found in bomb shelters. When Hamas shoots at Israel, they’re now shooting at my kid. That makes this latest round of Middle Eastern war even more personal than usual. Miranda carries an American passport, and so — unlike most Israelis — can leave for safety at any time. She has repeatedly refused. This beautiful young woman who had never cared much about Jewish life has discovered under fire a new sense of belonging. One of the hardest things in raising a Jewish child is the question from young lips: ‘Could it ever happen again?’ Parents of course wish to promise that hatred and persecution and murder have faded into the past; that people have learned to live together. But we do not promise, because the promise would not be true. As rockets hurtle into Israel, gangs attack Jews in the streets of Europe — and eminent persons in media and politics condone what they do not outright justify. Again? Yes, again.

Britain, happily, has not suffered the street outbursts that have disgraced Paris, Antwerp, and other cities on the Continent. Some of the credit must be given to more sophisticated policing initiated by the Blair government and improved under David Cameron. Few British institutions have contributed more to the struggle against extremism than the think tank Policy Exchange. I’ve been a hanger-on around Policy Exchange for many years, until at last, for lack of any better idea, they invited me to join their trustees. For anyone used to the Apollo-programme-sized budgets of their US counterparts, it’s startling to see how much impact British policy institutions can have at a fraction of the cost. (‘In column 4, line 5, where it shows revenue of 86 — that’s £86,000, right?’ ‘No, it’s as it says: £86.’)

I’ve worked for 25 years as a journalist. I can’t begin to tally how many thousands of pages of books, articles, and columns I’ve written. Over the past year and a half, however, that output has dwindled, as I’ve shouldered with my sister’s husband the responsibility for a family business created by my late father. Where once I might have started the day by heading to a studio for a snappy round of punditry, today I spend those early hours responding to emails about burst pipes and refractory tenants. In May, I started as a senior editor at America’s greatest magazine, the Atlantic. I’m trying not to dwell on the sinister implications of that word ‘senior’. I’m enjoying the change. Besides, to be quite blunt, as a pundit, I may have worked myself out of a job.  Over the past near-decade, the main theme of my journalism has been to urge US Republicans to resist the urge to veer to the ideological right. Now at last, after Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and ‘makers versus takers’, there are promising signs of self-correction. The New York Times magazine in mid-July showcased the work of a dozen brainy self-described ‘reform conservatives’, who are painstakingly reworking party policy to recognise that not every American is or wants to be an enterpreneur. At the end of July, former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan released a carefully considered anti-poverty plan. I’m beginning to recognise my party again. Just please don’t impeach President Obama if you win the Senate in November, OK?

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

David Frum is a senior editor at the Atlantic, and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush.

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Show comments
  • lookout

    Nice article, as regards a future holocaust, please look to Jacob Prasch and moriel ministries.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Frum? Now would that be an Irish name?

    • And who’s the Apollo in the grey suit?

    • pedestrianblogger

      That’s right, Jack. Good spot. He’s a filthy Jew. Smash his windows and pin a yellow star on him.

      • Nice one, PB. Your lack of time for anti-semites is one of the things I like best about you.

  • Miss Ruby

    My son is graduating college and heading to Israel as well, so I understand your feelings and I’ve long admired your commentary. But please, no pot shots at Glenn Beck, who has been tireless in his defense of Israel, and who has, since this conflict began, convinced me to listen to him instead of Diane Rehm and much of NPR, and, especially, the BBC.

  • Miss Ruby

    My son is graduating college and heading to Israel as well, so I understand your feelings and I’ve long admired your commentary. But please, no pot shots at Glenn Beck, who has been tireless in his defense of Israel, and who has, since this conflict began, convinced me to listen to him instead of Diane Rehm and much of NPR, and, especially, the BBC.

    • Your son can’t ‘graduate college’: his college graduates him. That ‘from’ is not dispensable.

      • Fraziel


        • No, lover of the English language. Or would you prefer that I talked like this, dropping important words whenever I felt like it? ‘Pedantry’, as you call it, is why strangers can communicate at all. Unfortunately those with precision — without which we could not have medicine, science, the law, even good poetry — often look ridiculous because a word is a tiny thing. But I think I can live with it.

          • Lord Dench

            If you understood exactly what the poster meant, then why correct grammar? I’d prefer a reply to a post being on its actual content.

            This is the internet, not an English GCSE coursework class

          • Tom M

            Sorry Lord. If someone doesn’t point these things out then it won’t be long before you can’t understand was is being said. Internet or not.
            I don’t know about you but when I read articles written for the web I despair often at the author’s inability to communicate an idea clearly and understand perfectly now the value of an editor.

          • Oh, because it’s a common mistake made by N. Americans. Just like ‘if I would have known, I would have done [something else]’. To me it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Mostly they are just uninformed, but I like to stick up for what’s right.

            While we’re at it, I prefer posts that don’t criticize other commenters for commenting as they like. We all use the blogs for different things. Sometimes — very rarely — I mention grammar. Most of the time I don’t. What does it matter?

    • Your son can’t ‘graduate college’: his college graduates him. That ‘from’ is not dispensable.

  • ohforheavensake

    And when Israel shoots into Gaza, whose children are they killing?

    • stephen rothbart

      Oh for heavens sake, ohforheavensake, not that tired old cliche.

      If you had an open mind you could find on the internet enough evidence from the mouths of Hamas operative themselves that they use their women and children as human shields, and now that journalists are coming out of Gaza to report on Hamas’s twin brother, ISIL and other Middle Eastern flashpoints, they are starting to admit the true narrative of Hamas firing from mosques, hospitals and even UN facilities.

      Do you have an open mind, or is a puerile sound bite the best you can do to contribute?

      The intent of Hamas and ISIL is to kill civilians. 3000 rockets fired at Israel with the sole purpose of attacking cities and towns, and hundreds of tunnels under the ground into Israel, the same Qatari government that backs ISIL backing Hamas, and all you can do is shut your eyes to what anyone with an enquiring mind would want to know, why is it happening and who is behind it?

      And the answer is Qatar. Not Israel. Qatar and the Emir of Qatar are the ones killing the children, all over the Middle East and not just in Gaza, and they are killing Christians, Muslims and anyone who is not them.

    • Fraziel

      The ones hamas use to surround their weapons.

    • Roberto Machado

      No one is saying that isn’t terrible but there has been precious little balance in the media. There is also increasing evidence form independent international media outlets that Hamas is using human shielding and firing from residential areas.

  • Augustus

    War is never pretty, and the collateral damage is always very regrettable. But sometimes wars need to be fought, and one should always use overwhelming force if possible to make sure you win. That’s how it’s done. Its how one assures themselves victory. Muslim terrorists of all stripes and colours deserve no mercy, as they will never compromise or change and show mercy themselves. They seek only to kill and destroy, and we’re seeing that all across the Middle East right now. The evidence is in the news and headlines every single day.

  • Roger Hudson

    The Gaza war of attrition will go on for a while yet.
    Hamas make ‘unconditional access’ their prime demand now, they know that how ever many rockets they have left it is finite, they are desperate to re-supply and they know that if imports are monitored by any sensible UN buffer then they will run out of weapons.
    We know that Gaza can have as much as it wants coming in through Eretz but the naughty Israelis won’t allow those big tube things from Iran to come in, only civilian supplies. Even the cement to build new schools is forbidden, because it will end up lining a tunnel in Rafah.
    A demilitarised Gaza will come, but slowly as Hamas fires off its last rockets.
    I want to see the UN and the ICC really get working, not the weak intimidated UNWRA crowd in Gaza now.

    • Tom M

      Good luck with that. You forget that Gaza was at war with Israel for a long time before rockets were their weapon of choice. They will find something else. Suicide bombers being the logical choice in the meantime.

  • The incessant, never-ending dueling between Hamas and Israel will be used by Arab governments to implement the next stage of their proxy war with Israel (and used to get rid of Hamas) …

    And everyone forgets the 1974 Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus (the 40th anniversary being Sunday, July 20 ironically enough, as tens of thousands demonstrate in European cites citing the evils of Israel), a real occupation, where Greek Cypriots were driven from their homes. In the case of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel never gave up her claim to those territories when the 1949 armistice was signed with her Arab neighbors. In fact, the term “Palestinian” was resurrected in 1963* by Arab governments as a means to continue the war with Israel via proxy, since Arab nations could never again wage a war of annihilation against Israel due to Israel’s acquisition of the atomic bomb that year.

    To operationalize the new Arab strategy, Israel had to acquire Gaza and the West Bank, hence the explanation for the intentionally botched Arab governments’ Six-Day War (1967), where, now get this, Egyptian land forces cross the demilitarized Sinai all the way up to Israel’s border and stops in its tracks there, waiting for the inevitable IDF response! For those not attuned to military tactics, that’s called intentional sabotage for the purpose of losing the war, thereby allowing for the implementation of a more subtle strategy to defeat the “Zionist entity”. Every time I hear that phrase I have to chuckle. Arab governments need new script writers!

    So, what’s next you ask? Watch for “Palestinians” renouncing a ‘two-state option’ for a ‘one-state option’, the excuses given (1) that they’re tired of incessant conflicts that only results in massive numbers of “Palestinian” deaths; buttressed by (2) the sudden memory recollection that, in fact, they are also Israeli citizens! Of course, a ‘one-state option’ will mean the electoral defeat of the Jewish state, exactly what the new Arab strategy was implemented for!

    However, there is one card Israel holds that can nullify the Arab governments’ new proxy strategy vis-a-vis Israel, and that is Israel affording world Jewry the right of Israeli citizenship! This should have been policy back in 1948, but maybe Israel was holding in reserve this checkmate move until it was really needed.


    *History of Palestine:

    It was Emperor Hadrian who renamed the area Syria Palæstina, after the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 AD, merging the Roman provinces of Syria and Judea with several other formerly nominally independent territories…


    Before 135 AD, what is today Israel consisted of the nominally independent Jewish territory of Galilee and the Roman administered province of Judea, contradicting Arab governments’ propaganda that those areas were ever called Palestine.

    The Roman Latin word ‘Palæstina’ means Philistia, the arch enemy of ancient Israel, whose people, defunct by the 7th century BC, inhabited the southwest corner of what is today Israel…


    Knowing the historical accounts of the animosity between the two peoples, Israelites and Philistines, Hadrian chose the disagreeable name ‘Palæstina’ as a slight against the Jews for their revolt against Rome, which is why the name of the Palestine Mandated home for the Jews, Palestine, was changed to Israel upon the territory’s declared independence on May 14, 1948.

    With the fall of Syria (inclusive of the region east of the Mediterranean Sea, west of the Euphrates River, north of the Arabian Desert and south of the Taurus Mountains) to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I in 1516, we have one province (though divided into various administrative districts by Selim I), where the citizens before the conquest of Selim I already call themselves Syrian…


    There never was a “Palestinian” nationality in the Ottoman Empire (“Palestinian” was a new nationality created by the League of Nations for the Jewish Homeland when the area was carved out of Ottoman Syria). The area of Ottoman Palestine was a part of the Ottoman province of Syria (akin to Central Park in New York City), where the inhabitants called themselves Syrian. That’s why after World War I Arabs living in Palestine wanted to merge the area with Syria…

    “The First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations (in Jerusalem, February 1919), which met for the purpose of selecting a Palestinian Arab representative for the Paris Peace Conference, adopted the following resolution: ‘We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.'” — Wikipedia, “Palestinian People”.


    The “Palestinian People” of today are a fiction, officially created at the first Arab League summit held in Cairo, Egypt in January 1964, where the Palestine Liberation was also created. The acquisition of the atomic bomb by Israel in 1963 spurred Arab governments to hold not only the league’s first summit in January of ’64 (the Arab League was founded in 1945), but its second summit that September in order to regroup and implement a new strategy towards Israel…



    After World War I the Allies/League of Nations demarcated areas of the former Ottoman Middle East for national homes of the various ethnic groups residing in the region. Arabs received what’s today called Syria, Iraq and Jordan; the Druze were provided with the defunct Jabal al Druze; the Alawites were provided with the defunct Alawite State; the Jews were provided Palestine (which territory under the Ottoman Empire was also composed of the southern half of Lebanon, ending just south of Beirut. After World War I the southern Lebanon portion was given to France, and Ottoman southern Syria was given to Britain and merged with the Palestine Mandate for the Jewish Homeland. One month later the British remove from the Jewish mandate the area of Palestine east of the Jordan River–Ottoman southern Syria–giving the area to Saudi Hashemites instead.); the Maronite Christians were provided with Lebanon. The Kurds and Armenians too were allotted their national homelands, but before the League of Nations could legalize the mandates, Turkish military forces moved back into those territories. Those Arabs living in the new mandated homeland for the Jews–Palestine–called themselves SYRIAN, and wanted to merge Palestine into the newly reconstituted nation of Syria; they detested the concept of a “Palestinian State” for Jews and Arabs, because the new “Palestinian” nationality included Jews who would have the upper hand, naturally, in the future new Jewish nation.

    As the successor organization to the League of Nations, the UN initially followed the League of Nations Palestine Mandate of 1922, and the territory of Palestine under the mandate includes Gaza and the West Bank. The non-binding 1947 UN Resolution 181 sought to divide Palestine into two states, one for the Jews, and one for the Arabs, which the Jews accepted, but Arab governments rejected…


    Note: Arab GOVERNMENTS rejected, not Arabs living in Palestine!

    Note that UN Resolution 181 mentions a state for the Jews and a state for the Arabs. Nowhere in the document does it mention a state for the “Palestinians”. Why? Because there was no indigenous Arab Palestinian ethnic group, simply the existing new Palestinian nationality that was created by the League of Nations in 1922 for the Jewish Homeland…

    “Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine two months after the evacuation of the armed forces of the mandatory Power has been completed but in any case not later than 1 October 1948. The boundaries of the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem shall be as described in Parts II and III below.”

    UN Resolution 181 mentions “Jewish” for the ethnic Jews of Palestine, but not Palestinian for the ethnic Arabs of Palestine. It calls Arabs–Arabs, and the League of nations created many Arab nations in the former Ottoman Middle East after World War I, where Gaza and West Bank Arabs can move to if they don’t like Israel. That’s precisely why so many nations were created by the League of Nations in the Middle East after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire–to act as a remedy for persecuted groups. Why would Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank want to be persecuted and killed in large numbers there, when they can move to neighboring kindred Arab nations? Oh, I forgot. Those kindred Arab neighbors won’t allow such relocation, because that would (1) be a recognition of Israel’s right to exist; and (2) make Israel stronger.

  • Jack

    Good article. Nice to know some oppose the mad Republican lurch to the far right.

    • ‘Far right’? ‘Lurch’? You have no idea what you’re talking about. Either that or you’re a Leftist (same thing, really). Well, I for one do not apologize for upholding our Constitution and our Founders’ vision. And I don’t really approve of David Frum’s David-Brooksian accommodations. All it does is encourage the very trend we need to put a brake on.

      • Jack

        You haven’t even read the Constitution, Cletus. Calm yourself.

        • I sure have, baby. And I’ve read the Declaration of Independence, so shove it up your toga. (Wearing my learning lightly here: one does not wish to show off.)

  • sam

    rocket vs 1931738716564565764745 latest weapons from the american army & illegal chemical weapons

    • Keep taking your tablets, Sam. In a by-each-day container, if need be.

  • Question: Where is Frum in the photo? — It looks Photoshopped, as if the red white and blue that was bound to be in the background have been taken out.

  • celtthedog

    Question: is Frum an American, a Canadian or an Israeli? Because frankly, listening to his lunatic pontifications over the years, he appears to have been all three at one point of time or another.

  • John Bradford

    When your daughter travelled to Tel Aviv in search of adventure, did you
    explain to her that she was going to a place that had been stolen from
    Palestinians at the point of a gun, and that those Palestinian refugees, as
    they became, would be firing rockets at her because they want their land and
    property back? Did you explain to her that UN Resolution 194 passed in 1948 resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date? You
    didn’t? Why not?

  • Innit Bruv

    Should have stayed in Canada….Also a European settler state.