Monday, December 29, 2008

Operation Cast Lead

Each year at Temple Emanu-El, staff members are assigned to facilitate the lighting of our outside menorah on all eight nights. The final night happened to be mine, as I was returning from vacation that day. Right after we finished singing a few songs and lighting the last candles, a videographer for one of our local news stations approached. Though he initially asked about the meaning of Hanukkah, his real question for the nightly news was about operation Cast Lead, Israel’s current military campaign in the Gaza Strip.
The name Cast Lead is a reference to Hanukkah because in preparation for Hanukkah molten hot lead was poured into molds to make dreidels. Of course this is a double entendre in a way because bullets are often manufactured using the same technique.
I think the videographer might have been caught slightly off-guard by my response. Instead of the usual, we pray for an end to the violence, I basically articulated the argument that Israel has the absolute right to defend herself from outside attacks.
When people look at the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they often think of it in terms of David and Goliath, with Israel somehow being Goliath, and her attacks against terrorists as being disproportionate. Yet those who make these comparisons almost invariably fail to mention that this attack was not instigated by Israel, and the last time we in the United States were attacked by a foreign threat, we invaded not one country, but two. People are also quick to forget that Israel peacefully gave up sections of the Gaza Strip in an attempt to establish more peaceful relations with the Palestinians. The result: kidnappings and more violence.
Israel’s goals in this operation are straightforward as indicated in an opinion piece on by Ron Ben-Yishai,7340,L-3645007,00.html Israel wants to establish a long-term ceasefire with Hamas, end the rocket attacks, stop the military escalation, hopefully be able to finally bring Gilad Shalit home, and end the terror attacks near the border. Israel, as it has demonstrated in the past, will attack when provoked. But the only way for the violence to truly end is if Hamas and the Palestinians renounce it as a form of conflict resolution. Until then, sadly, Israel probably has no other recourse that is accepted in the Middle East no matter what the U.N. might say.

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