Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thoughts on Israel

Less than two weeks ago I sent a note eulogizing the three Israeli teens: Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad, who were brutally murdered. Our community gathered together, like so many others, to mourn this horrific act. Sadly, as we now know, violent acts, often times, beget more violent acts. In response or retribution, a young Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was burned to death in an act of revenge.

The world mourned and decried this act of violence. The response was almost universal condemnation, which was interesting because the deaths of Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad, though horrible, did not garner as much attention. It is as always, the world expects Israel to show restraint, while accepting violence as a legitimate tool to be used by groups such as Hamas. The hypocrisy of such thoughts is maddening. All of their deaths are tragic and needless. And all perpetrators should be brought to justice. It's justice for all, not justice for some. 

Hamas in turn has been launching hundreds of rockets into Israel. Iron Dome has intercepted many including one or two that were aimed at the Dimona Nuclear Plant in Southern Israel. As an aside, a nuclear accident doesn't just stop at the borders of one country, but could have devastating effects across the entire region. Just ask Japan and Russia.

Israel in turn has responded with aerial bombardments of known and suspected missile sites, tunnels, terror leaders and the like. Israel has done this while trying to use restraint by warning and limiting civilian casualties. This is a challenge exacerbated by how Hamas has a propensity to hide behind civilian shields.

When I think about what is going on in Israel, I remind myself that if Hamas stopped launching missiles into Israel, Israel would stop responding. However if Israel were to stop responding, Hamas would not stop with their missile attacks.

It is a case of you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. There are experts for more knowledgeable than I who can point to things like the most recent failed peace attempts, or to the ongoing occupation of the Occupied Territories. But, lest we forget, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, and this is how she has been repaid for her actions. Also, I look forward to the day when one of our U.S. Presidents makes the peace process a first term priority and not a second term priority, which has been the approach of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

I will admit that I am biased. I am biased for a vibrant democracy that values human life. I am biased towards a country that actively pursues peace even with partners who fail to recognize her sovereign right to exist. I am biased towards a country that is far too short of friends and all too often misrepresented in the media. Israel is not perfect, but she certainly has and continues to have my undying support.

According to our partner organization in the Associated, we can:
·       Make a contribution to our Israel Emergency Relief Campaign. Your donation--large or small--provides care for children in shelters and critical services to those affected.
·       Visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on the current situation, share/retweet our posts and send photos showing support and solidarity using the hashtag: #BaltimoreStandsWithIsrael.
·       Send messages to our friends and family in Ashkelon on the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership Facebook page.
·       Send a personal card to the children in Ashkelon by emailing Amalia Phillips at the Macks Center for Jewish Education. 

We can also give to organizations like the JNF, the URJ, and so many others who are reaching out to provide support to our brethren suffering in Israel.

More than that, if you are planning a trip to Israel, you should still go. If you are in conversations with friends and family via social media, demonstrate how you stand up for Israel. Keep yourself informed.

And if you need a little levity, just follow Benji Lovitt on Facebook who recently posted, The IDF has asked us not to reveal where the rockets hit as to not give Hamas data to improve their accuracy. I am sorry to say I won't be doing that. Hamas, I know for a fact that some of them landed in Idaho, Manchester, and Alpha Centauri. Godspeed.

And as always, a prayer for peace never hurt either. Maybe one day the blessing of peace will be found in the land.

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