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Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 07_11_2014
07/11/2014 07:00 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
July 11, 2014

 

In the past month, I've been to the lowest place on earth at the Dead Sea, and the highest point I'll reach this summer in Colorado’s mountains. The contrast between the depth and height of each respective place couldn't speak more clearly to me than it does now.

                In mid-June, I was traveling with a group through Israel. Floating in the Dead Sea lifted more than my feet from the bottom of the Sea; it also lifted my spirits to think about the sensational place I was in and enjoyed so much. On the same trip, we stood in Sderot near the Gaza Strip. We felt the relative routine of Israeli life in that southern city, which depended on a visible fence patrolled by the IDF. We visited the northern border near Syria and learned how critical that border was to Israel’s security. In Jerusalem, we experienced first-hand how multiple religious faiths moved easily through the old and new cities. But there was nothing more moving to us than the coincidence of our deepening Jewish connection in Israel and the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers. Only after we returned home did we learn, as did the world, that they were murdered shortly after they were kidnapped. Subsequent events that have led Israel to defend herself against increasing barrages of missiles from the Gaza Strip placed our seemingly benign but penetrating experience in Israel into perspective.

                Like you, I’ve read everything I can about the events in Israel. I’ve read the commentaries, the news accounts, and the Facebook postings. I’ve read and watched the efforts to rationalize Israel’s right to defend herself, and I’ve accepted the efforts some Israelis and Palestinians have made to remain silent or respect the “bloods” of both peoples. Experts make these statements and we believe in these claims, because most of us are human beings who aren’t bent on the destruction of others. In America, we make such accommodations for others who are perfect strangers to us, and, we believe that if we do, then we can expect something in return, namely, peace.

                Here’s the difference facing Israel, today. Hamas is a terrorist organization supported by nations that foment terrorism and the destruction of western values and democracies. In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip completely, but ever since, Hamas and increasingly new and more threatening terrorist organizations have bombarded Israel with rockets. Rather than build their own people, Hamas and their like are bent on the destruction of Israel. There is no commentary that’s needed to explain a simple truth that Hamas must be taken down and removed from Gaza. The fact is that Israel, not unlike any other nation, must defend herself and remove from its immediate boundaries any threat to its citizens. But, unlike any other nation, Israel is a sliver of their size and is surrounded by enemies.

                Col. Bentzi Gruber, standing with our group of visitors from Beth Israel, told us that the U.S. has in Israel’s role in defending freedom and democracy “one of the least expensive aircraft carriers” in its fleet. Do you hear the truth and the irony? If you do, then please join me in writing, calling and addressing the facts with our government officials and the White House, to be perfectly clear about our expectations for America’s role in defending Israel, a legitimate, democratic, western ally that deserves nothing less than total and unequivocal support from our President and his staff while we, as a Jewish people pray for Israel, and we, as a world, pray for the future of democracy and freedom reflected in what some call a Middle East conflict and the rest of us call the fight for our life.

                Today, I am in Colorado. The grand mountains and cool breezes which I love in July, made me feel ashamed that my vacation might come before the current conflict in Israel. But, it doesn’t because it can’t. I am a lover of Israel and the Jewish people. No matter where I am, my heart is turned to Jerusalem. I stand with my brothers and sisters who join me as rabbis, cantors, and educators, as congregants, community leaders and friends who are passionate about peace. At Congregation Beth Israel, in Houston, our prayers and our actions speak for Israel and her allies. Join us for Shabbat services at 6:30pm, in the Gordon Chapel, and stay tuned for more information about how to help and serve Israel in her time of need.

                Am Yisrael Chai! The people of Israel lives!

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