Written July 9, 2014
It has been a difficult time in Israel. I have been here in Eretz Yisrael for more than a week now. Arriving just before they found the bodies of Eyal,Gilad and Naftali. When the news of the discovery of their bodies came over the news I was with several colleagues and it was a palpable moment that took our breath away. Israel went into mourning. Jews from the right or left cried with their families. I was surprised how few cars were out in the streets . I was glued to watching the funeral and crying too. And then in the midst of mourning, a young Arab teen burned alive. Retribution by a gang of Jewish thugs. But it was cold-blooded murder.
A country, a Jewish people that prides itself on the value “choose life” has within it such depravity. It shocks the nation. The burnt body of Muhammed Abu Khadeir gave Israel another blow and made many realize that the rhetoric that they have espoused has consequences. Words matter and the words of revenge, the cycle of violence represented by this has given Israel pause. This was a reason for more tears for Muhammed, his family and for my Israel who is so conflicted and so battered from every side. Even as the Army went door to door on the West Bank searching for the 2 murderers of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad.
But these deeply saddening events have taken place against a background of a barrage of rocket and missile fire from Hamas. Since the agreement of Fatah and Hamas to create their “unity” government, the rockets have fallen through the south with increasing volume. And then yesterday, as Israel called up reservists and gathered at the border of Gaza the rockets reigned down on an ever increasing circle of Israel. Sderot, Beersheva, Ashkelon, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Last night it took me a minute. I heard the sirens. But it didn’t compute. The TV was on. I was watching it and hearing it as if numb and realized this wasn’t just far away but overhead. Hurriedly I found the safety of the shelter with others in the hotel. Shaken and realizing that Israel has entered a new and frightening phase it was a night of little sleep. All of Israel is vulnerable to the missiles.
Even though I have had many tears this week. I am strengthened in my commitment to Israel by being here. By sharing in the Israel experience. Not just in times of quiet and celebration. But in these extraordinarily difficult times. And I know our rabbinic presence in Israel bring strength to Medinat Yisrael.
May Israel be kept in our prayers. For peace outside and within.
Rabbi Denise L. Eger is the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA and is President Elect of the CCAR. You can follow her travels this week in Israel @deniseeger #rabbinicmission2Israel. Or @AIPAC
Today is Kaf Tet b’November or the 29th of November. 65 years ago the UN declared a partition in Palestine giving birth to Israel and Jordan. Now Mahmmoud Abbas is at the UN on this same day 65 years later to try a declare Palestinian statehood although not full membership. Hmmmm. Did he just choose that date as a co-incidence? Or the powers at the UN? Hmmmm.
The truth is that he is Israel’s best hope for a negotiating partner. Hamas is nothing more than a puppet of Iran. The missiles and rockets used in the latest round of exchanges before the ceasefire were Iranian weaponry smuggled into Gaza. What we saw and Israel experienced was another round in the escalation of the coming war between Iran and Israel. And all this was nothing but a distraction for Iran to pump up its production of weapons grade uranium. They came closer to a nuclear Iran while the world worried about Israel and Gaza and Syria. And the U.S was still dealing with the aftermath of its election.
And now this.
Bibi needs to sit down soon. And so does Abbas before he is made completely irrelevant.
Declaration by the U.N. may make headlines and the countries who will vote in favor of Palestinian upgrade in their membership at the U.N. as France has said it would-will do little to change the facts on the ground or day to day life for the Palestinian people.
That is why negotiations without pre-conditions should be entered into immediately on both side.
The UN can vote all it wants…the reality is that for the average Palestinian no matter where she lives-in Ramallah or Gaza City nothing will change.
And that’s the saddest part of all.
Once again the Rockets are blasting Israel. More than 190 rockets have rained down upon Israel. For the second day in a row schools are closed and people have been hunkered down in bomb shelters from Beer Sheva to Ashdod and Ashkelon even to Risho L’Tzion which is a suburb of Tel Aviv. 27 missiles have been intercepted by the anti ballistic missle system, Iron Dome which was a collaborative effort between the US and Israeli military .
Israel responds to protect its citizenry. Hamas cries foul. But they do nothing to stop the attacks by militant groups. They wring their hands publicly but secretly laugh and snicker and encourage these missile attacks and have assisted these radical Islamic terrorist groups to attain and build these weapons with Iranian help.
Hamas claims it is in control of Gaza. If it is in control then they need to police their own. Why doesn’t the world ask them to police their own? Because it is easier to blame Israel. But Israel left Gaza. Hamas was elected there but they do nothing to crack down and help move the situation toward the peace agreement that the Palestinians and Israel so desperately need.
Hamas exploits Israel’s defense of its citizens with David and Goliath imagery. But Iran is paying the tab- make no mistake. And Hamas can claim it is not them but other groups. Even as Hamas tries to enter into a unity government with the Fatah faction of Mahmoud Abbas that controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
The Arab League, Egypt, and the world community must tell Hamas they must stop the rocket attacks. For as long as Israel is under daily seige the move toward any real peace is put asunder. (But I think this is part of Hamas’ strategy). More later.
With Shabbat soon here-let us pray for a respite from the terror that struck Israel yesterday. More than 15 rockets hit southern Israel following the terrorist attacks against Israel in Eilat yesterday. 8 people died in the shootings in Eilat including army officers. The rocket attacks injured two people seriously and others were treated for shock and caused fires. 10 rockets had been shot earlier at Beersheva and Ashkelon.
Israel Defense Forces retailated by bombing a munitions factory in Gaza.
This is so different than the summer I just spent in Israel which was relatively calm!
I pray that in the run-up to the UN General Assembly meetings in September when the Palestinians will seek a vote to affirm their nationhood status that this doesn’t become a daily occurrence.
If anything reigns down on Israel and Gaza…Let it be peace.
My heart aches for Jerusalem. A bombing attack on Wednesday. Echoes of the Intifada when bus bombings happened all the time. Let’s pray this is an isolated event. But with the increase in mortar shells on the Negev and Southern coastal Israel and the interception of a boat on March 16 from Iran with weapons headed to the Gaza Strip all the signs of increased Palestinian terror against Israel are appearing.
The cargo of the Liberian ship, Victoria (that sailed from a Turkish port) were Chinese made C740 anti-ship missiles. These would target Israeli naval ships.
Here is a link to the the Haaretz article about the Jerusalem Bus bombing on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday Hamas launched two grad rockets against Beersheba. A man was injured. And now phosphorus bearing mortars have been discovered. Phosphorus is a banned item world wide by international law. The Israeli delegation to the U.N. has protested the surge in terrorism and violence by the Palestinians.
These actions by the Palestinians push peace farther away. These are violent acts that do not help their cause. The Israeli public wants peace and wants to come to an agreement. This just further isolates the Palestinian cause among the people.
Hamas is nervous with all of the push to rid the middle east of its despots. The fight in Libya is against Gadafi is just one more in the ongoing series of revolutions for democracy. The Palestinian people of Gaza may have voted for Hamas but they are being held back and now being oppressed by Hamas’ violent policies and corruption that pockets foreign aid rather than builds any infrastructure there.
Israel needs a peace partner. But bus bombings and missile attacks are hardly a peace offering.