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Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 07_18_2014
07/17/2014 02:00 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
July 18, 2014

 

Writing a few days before Friday, it’s too early to be accurate about the latest news in Israel, but I wouldn’t be too early to reflect on what has transpired. In addition to the struggle between Israel and Hamas, primarily, are the frightening reports of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Europe. Specifically, Jews in Paris and Germany have come under attack in the synagogue and on the streets.

                In Paris, worshipers were barricaded in their synagogue while Muslim anti-Israel protestors hurled rocks and anti-Semitic threats at them. From inside, worshipers called the police who came to their rescue. Forcing the mob to disperse proved to be more difficult than they imagined. The mob was worked up and passionate about fulfilling their mission to terrorize local Parisian Jews who, no doubt, were praying for the peace of Israel and calm in the Middle East.

                In Germany, recollections of decades past returned to haunt Jews who were repelled by anti-Semitic mobs. They commandeered or were allowed to use the megaphone inside a police car to amplify their diatribe against Jews and Israel. As in Paris, the mob was dispersed but not without calculating the effects of rising tensions across major European cities. In Morocco, a rabbi walking to synagogue was attacked and beaten by a Muslim youth who was not unknown to the police for acts of violence particularly against Jews.

                In crises like these, it isn’t uncommon for our essential instincts to overcome us. Compassionate persons, by nature, are prone to work and pray for peace through compromise and negotiated truces. They have hope that humanity will trump depravity and that history will not have to be repeated for lessons to be learned. Vengeful persons, by nature, are prone to seek scapegoats for offenses they can’t eliminate without violent or impulsive means. This schism can describe the distance between those who will negotiate with their enemies and those who prefer to slaughter them. It’s a schism that is, unfortunately, seen not only between Israel and Hamas, but also in smaller venues between citizens of modern nations. The level of hate and bigotry rising up across the world is terrifying. It isn’t only Muslim against Jew, though it gets more media coverage; and, it isn’t just Christians against Muslims, though it’s rife. It’s also Muslims against Christians across Muslim countries, which never fails to astound me, because Christians worldwide don’t react to the threat of radical Muslims against their co-religionists like Jews do for fellow Jews. Therein lies a unique Jewish value which maintains Judaism as more than a religion; it is truly a people that bleeds for other Jews and sees itself as a community across miles and generations.

                It’s too simple to say what the solution is. At this time, the future remains unclear even among the best of the politicians and pundits. The stakes are very high, but we won’t abandon the hope that reasonable minds will see that peace between enemies is preferable. This week, let me highlight a few points to keep in mind:

 

1) The fact remains that Hamas is a terrorist organization and their efforts to avoid peace should come as no surprise. They have everything to lose if they have to become something they are not, and peacemakers they are not. Israel is not fighting Arabs and Palestinians; Israel is fighting Hamas, a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction;

2) Israel is capable of making peace with its neighbors; it has done so in the past and has demonstrated that when they departed Gaza in 2005. Peace is inherent in Israel’s outlook and in the Jewish people’s goals for the future. Israel has only one demand: stop firing missiles into Israel;

3) Bodies count. In the horrid media coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the number of dead in Gaza compared to the number of dead in Israel are the only real numbers that much of the world are counting. Israel has done a miraculous job of protecting its citizens with the Iron Dome while Hamas has put children in harm’s way, but the average citizen of the world sees only bodies and blood. Israel’s defense system has saved countless lives; Hamas’ missiles are indiscriminately fired with no aim except to destroy lives.

 

Finally, go to the Beth Israel website at www.beth-israel.org, and find the Jewish Advocacy page where Rabbi Joshua Herman has refreshed the links, resources, and news sources that you can use to educate yourself on current events in Israel and advocate for Israel’s welfare and future.

                Friends, this is our time to help Israel. This is our time to say, “I am a Jew. My brothers and sisters in Israel need me.” Join me and our congregational family in advocating for Israel’s well-being and the peace of our people everywhere. This is not a selfish plea for Jews and Judaism; it is a timely and timeless hope. Shabbat Shalom.

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