Gaza. Again

Before Shabbat is on hiatus… But remaining silent at such a time is pahst nischt (a thing not done). I wish I had comforting words to write, that I saw some hope for a true dénouement. If you’re reading the news regularly then you know that hope is a commodity not to be found in Israel or Gaza. For Israelis there is a catalog of unrelenting fear:
1) Fear of being injured by missiles, most of which have thankfully either been intercepted by anti-missile missiles or have fallen in uninhabited areas.
2) Israelis close to the border are living in fear that at any moment a tunnel delivering well-trained and merciless terrorists could emerge within their community, or even within the very boundaries of their own house or garden. Should Hamas or Islamic Jihad succeed in emerging undiscovered from one of these tunnels, there could be carnage on a massive scale. http://tinyurl.com/mbwtjxp
3) The terrible fear that a friend, son, grandson, brother, husband, father… will not come back alive. The waiting to get a call or email or… something to indicate that a loved one is ok.
For the Palestinians of Gaza there is of course unrelenting fear as well.
1) Fear of Israeli missile attacks at any time, with or without warnings. For the many Palestinian civilians in Gaza who have survived Israeli strikes and are now homeless, there’s nothing “surgical” — a term Israel uses to describe its strikes — about the attacks that have killed their family members, friends and neighbors. http://tinyurl.com/lm79gm9
2) Fear of finding safety for oneself and one’s family.
3) Fear that life in Gaza – already difficult before the latest war – will only get worse.
It may be that the biggest fear, the existential dread, is that this conflict will become permanent. After all, we are fighting a foe with a strong nihilistic bent, who sacrifice their innocents on the altar of Islamic extremism and utter hatred of Israel and Jews in general. I don’t use the term ‘human shields’ because that is a cynical use of civilians. There is nothing cynical or ironic about Hamas. They have a mission, and that mission is to do everything in their power to bring down the Jewish state. Hamas is intentionally trying to create a humanitarian crisis. It wants to intensify the distress in order to bring international pressure on Israel. http://tinyurl.com/m8x7b9h We also know that when the world sees their dead children the world will react with revulsion. And they should feel revulsion.
We feel revulsion! Hamas has created an impossible situation for us. In order to protect ourselves, to stop the missiles, to destroy the tunnels, we have killed innocent people. That Hamas has engineered this nightmare does not change the fact that to defend ourselves we have shed innocent blood. This is something I hate Hamas for more than the missiles. It is an analog to a famous quote by Golda Meir to Anwar Sadat. She said, “We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.” I can never forgive Hamas for making us kill children. This is the simple truth of Gaza: The biggest enemy of the people is not Israel but Hamas. It is Hamas that refused to build a decent society for its people when it had the chance. It is Hamas that chose hate over life. http://tinyurl.com/l3jky9y
To be honest, I am feeling very unforgiving of all those politicians, Israeli and Palestinian, who squandered countless opportunities to make peace over the past 47 years since the 6 Day War. Time and again, extremists and opportunists on both sides stood in the path of peace until now, when there truly is no longer a clear path. A two state solution appears today as likely as time travel: theoretically interesting but utterly unrealistic. This carnage is the product of willful hatred and hubris and ultimately a profound lack of courageous leadership on both sides.
So what can we do? How can we respond? First, read the news. Check editorial pages. Look at Israeli press coverage on these websites: http://www.timesofisrael.com/, http://www.haaretz.com/, http://www.ynetnews.com/. Know what’s going on.
Plan a trip to Israel. This is something Barry Shrage, president of CJP preaches. He says that just being there and spending US dollars boosts Israeli morale significantly.
Send money to Stop the Sirens, a charity established by the Reform Movement, the Conservative Movement, and JFNA (the Jewish Federations of North America) to raise and distribute funds to provide respite for children and families through programming outside of missile range, emergency respite to institutionalized people with emotional challenges, and handing out food and activity packages to families in shelters in Sederot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Asdod, and Gedera, and in the Sha’ar HaNegev region. Go here to donate: https://secure-fedweb.jewishfederations.org/page/contribute/operation-protective-edge
Go here http://tinyurl.com/n3dtb5m for more information from the CJP website.
We all send our sympathies to the families of all those Israeli soldiers who gave their lives for the Jewish State. We also send our sympathies to the families who have lost innocent loved ones in this awful war.
May the One who brings peace to the Heavens bring peace to us, to Israel, to all the world. Amen.

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