The New Front

Apr 24, 2018 by

By Haim Bibas

The international “Theater of Terror” gradually opens its curtains, and spreads like cancer into the capitals and cities of the Middle East, Europe and the USA. This “theater” searches for stages upon which to create fear, terror, blood, casualties, tension and stress. It aspires to scatter destruction and panic, to distribute its beliefs and to intimidate civilians, corporations, local authorities and governments.

Mayors were unwillingly pulled into this arena, together with their citizens – men, women and children.

The new reality in which the Islamic and other types of terror are enhanced and expanded, challenges the traditionally acceptable order. Armies would battle armies, while civilians remained at the homefront and sat in bomb shelters, encouraged the fighters at the battle front and remained resilient until battle was over.

However, this equation has unequivocally changed:

The home front has now become the front itself, and civilians have become soldiers without uniform. Such is the case in London, New-York, Paris and Toulouse, Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Brussels and any other place in which the serpent head of terror can arise and attack mercilessly, in order to achieve its desired aims: drama, media, blood, fear and panic.

As Chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel– a country unfortunately experienced in terror and bloodshed – and as the mayor of Modi’in Maccabim Reut – a city positioned midway between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem – I am now aware, as are my peers, of the tremendous change in the new class of warfare. No longer is it Air Force against Air Force, infantry and battalions of armies pitted against each other; but rather missiles fired upon civilians in the cities, or terror cells seeking a high murderous death toll.

Such a reality turns the local government and the mayors into an essential and core entity in building national resilience and leadership during emergencies and national security crises. The mayor, as a leader, must develop skills to motivate citizens, to calm them, to be consistent and reliable, and to present the public with crucial information, identify and manage crises, think outside the box, and maintain strong connection to national government as well as military and public security authorities. The mayor understands that if his citizens are “soldiers without uniform” manning the “the new front”, he himself is as a “general without uniform”. His actions, behavior and functioning will influence the battle outcomes – measured not only by military accomplishments or the number of casualties, but also by the scale of security, the media and public opinion.

My friends and I, the mayors of Israel, are well aware of the magnitude of this challenge, and unfortunately, we are very experienced in it.. There is almost no city in Israel which has not suffered from missile attacks in the war against terrorist organizations, like Hamas and Hezbollah, or faced direct terror attacks.

We constantly prepare, train and coordinate expectations with our citizens.  We also pray three times a day – which Judaism proscribes – praying for the best, while preparing for the worst.

I believe that these global issues which concern mayors across the USA, Europe and the Middle East require global solutions in collaboration with national and local government. We in Israel are willing to share the knowledge and experience we have acquired with any authority across the world that is aware of the magnitude of this danger, and to join forces in the war on terror and on those radical forces that threaten the wellbeing and safety of our citizens.

Haim Bibas is Chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel and Mayor of Modi’in Maccabim Reut and will be speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in NYC on April 29.

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