I downloaded a new App to my iPhone today. It’s called “Red Alert: Israel.” What does it do? Every time an enemy rocket, mortar, or missile is fired anywhere into the State of Israel, Red Alert will set off an alarm on my phone. Why do this? Because it’s the only way that I, safe and sound here in the United States, can empathize and stand in solidarity with what my family in Israel lives with on a daily basis. It’s a reminder — awake up call — of the fact that Israelis cannot live “normal” lives.
The alarm already went off once as I started writing this. “Red Alert — Rockets Attack: Sderot.” It freaked me out! Did my sister and her family just run down to their bomb shelter?
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As my readers know, I spent two weeks in Israel in June. I was there when the three Israeli teens were kidnapped. When I returned home (just last week), I immediately became involved in the details of holding a community-wide memorial service upon learning that the boys had been killed. But, in the week since, the focus has shifted to concerns over yet another war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
My blogs are not intended to preach extremist rhetoric about politics or religion. I am not the inspirational or refined speaker that my brother the rabbi is nor am I a seasoned, highly educated historian or foreign correspondent. So, I want to be clear: if I write about one of these subjects, I only do so with the attempt to clarify, agonize, ponder, or educate. And, this is what I must do today.
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I believe that the vast majority of people (Jews and others) do not understand the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (After all, how could they? This situation is emotional and complicated!) One main reason is due to the lack of factually based education. Where does one even go to learn about it? However, even young adults who were educated in Jewish day schools – from elementary through high school – are seemingly confused by the media’s “out of context” or biased portrayals of what the “on the ground” conditions really are over there.
So, please permit me to outline only three main points:
- For the conflict to end, and for real peace to emerge, both sides have to want it. In every marriage, friendship, or partnership, both parties must be willing to listen, communicate, compromise, be trustworthy, and be committed to working towards building mutual understanding and respect. If both sides don’t work equally to ensure success, it won’t happen.
Palestinians (and most Arab extremists) have declared that Jews and the State of Israel do not have the right to live or exist. They teach their children that killing Jews – especially in the form of martyrdom (e.g. a suicide bombing) – means a direct path to heaven. Jews, of course, refuse to yield to this thinking. So, until the Palestinians change their opinions and forms of education, peace will not become the state of reality.
- From even before Israel was declared a State in 1948, the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected proposals of a two-state solution. By refusing to accept this option, Palestinians are proclaiming that only a one-state solution – a Palestinian State – is acceptable.
In the history of empires, wars, and the subsequent conquering of land, Israel is the only country that has ever offered – repeatedly – to give up land (that was won fair and square) to make peace. From Day One, Israel accepted a two-state option. In response, however, its Arab neighbors waged wars on Israel; wars during which Israel conquered additional land. Yet, Israel has been willing to give up some of the land in the name of finding a peaceful solution. The Palestinians simply don’t want to play nicely or fairly.
- Israel has a right to defend itself and its citizens. Consider this: After September 11, the US government launched a multi-year manhunt to capture Osama Bin Laden. He finally was caught and killed. The American public didn’t ask many questions; we cheered in the streets. And this: If Americans were barraged with rockets and missiles on a daily basis – repeatedly over days and weeks and months and years – how long would we tolerate it? What would we do to put an end to it all?
The Palestinians voted Hamas into power; Hamas uses its own people as human shields and launches missiles on Israel. Like we did with Bin Laden, shouldn’t Israel deal with the Hamas terrorists once and for all?
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It’s easy to rattle off facts. It’s easy to cloud the issues with others (e.g. settlements, individual acts of terrorism and violence, borders and fences, etc.), but I’m sorry, I am sick and tired of Israel being held to a higher standard than other countries. I am frustrated by media displays and attitudes that depict “poor Palestinians” and offer no sympathy to the daily plight of Israelis and Jews who have been persecuted (literally and in the press) for centuries. I want to scream at a world that doesn’t understand the difference between Israel’s shooting at known military targets and centers of terrorist activities versus Hamas’ shooting at innocent civilians in their homes, schools, and places of work.
It’s easy to rattle off facts. But no one seems to know how to stop it all. Moses demanded of Pharaoh to “Let my people go” and God rained down ten plagues on the Egyptians until the Israelites were freed. Israel is asking the world to “Let my people live” and no one is listening. If Israel chose to launch its own “plagues” and ultimately put an end to this, what would the world say then?
For now, please learn the facts. Check out “10 Facts about the Arab Israeli Conflict” or read Alan Dershowitz’s book, The Case for Israel or go find a good class to take. Educate yourself and your children, and stand up to those who perpetuate ignorance and falsehoods. Or… Download the Red Alert app. Try it out. But, make sure you turn up the volume of the alert siren. It needs to be nice and loud (select Siren 1 or 2 sound option) if you really want to “get it”…
Our Jewish future depends upon your support of Israel.