Thursday, January 8, 2009

Israel and Gaza: Required Reading for January 8

Solidarity rally TONIGHT at 7:00 at Congregation Agudath Sholom. See and download the ADL Poster for Connecticut.

Today’s blog entry might easily be called “Required VIEWING” as well as “Required Reading.” We live in a visual age, so you may have noticed that I’ve added Israel's daily news digest from Channel 2 to the top of this blog. It will remain there for the duration of this crisis. Check in mid afternoon or later to see that day's broadcast.

From Israel, we get this very important video on the ethics of warfare from a Jewish and Israeli perspective. It was linked to the Ha’aretz Hebrew website, but there are English subtitles. If only this kind of debate took place in the Arab world, or in parts of Europe, for that matter, the world would be a much safer place for children and other living things. It is to Israel’s credit that in the midst of a mortal threat to its existence, they refuse to abandon their moral bearings, even if on occasion mistakes are made.

Also, two YouTube links of note: This one very professionally and neatly lays out the recent history of the run-up to this war. And this one, called “Let’s Play Pretend” (sent by Sheila Romanowitz), which is similar to the ADL poster campaign described yesterday, making the powerful analogy of what it would be like to have missiles landing on our cities. And finally, A video message from Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor, thanking American Jews for our solidarity.

Finally, on the video side, see how the other side is covering this war: Hamas TV

While press coverage here in the U.S. has been more "fair" than usual (kudos to CBS News, for prodicing two Gazan witnesses to the rocket fire that came FROM that UN School), it looks like the NY Times Op-Ed editor got up on the wrong side of the bed today. Count 'em, three anti Israel (and distorted) op-ed pieces. Or were there four? I lost count. Meanwhile, must listening and reading is this NPR interview with Amos Oz, a novelist known for dovish views who here supports Israel's actions (although now looks for a ceasefire). He states:

The Israelis are haunted by the fact that they have been besieged for decades. They are haunted by the historical ordeal of the Jewish people. By the sense of being alienated by many countries and nations and, by world public opinion. This provides the Israelis with a certain sense of stubbornness. The world will criticize us anyway, whatever we do, whichever way we behave, so let's be tough.

See Daniel Finkelstein’s column in the Times of London, as recommended by Steve Lander’s brother David. It lends some interesting historical perspective for those who might not understand Israel and its motives.

He writes:

world opinion weeps now for Anne Frank. But world opinion did not save her. The origin of the state of Israel is not religion or nationalism, it is the experience of oppression and murder, the fear of total annihilation and the bitter conclusion that world opinion could not be relied upon to protect the Jews.

Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center writes in the Wall Street Journal, “The Jews Face a Double Standard” Why, he asks, doesn't Israel have the same right to self-defense as other nations?

See this Jerusalem Post analysis on the role of Iran in all thnis and why they aren’t too happy with Hamas’ performance. Ha’aretz speculates on why Iran had their proxies fire on Israel’s north today.

Here is the latest on the question of who Obama has picked to be the next Middle East envoy, and the position of Dennis Ross in all this.

For a first-hand understanding of the situation in the line of fire, read this blog, describing the reality of life in Ashkelon.

Some news from the halls of Congress, courtesy of JFACT:

The Senate has passed a resolution by unanimous consent that supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza and reaffirms America’s strong support for Israel. The resolution calls on Hamas to end rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and encourages the administration to work toward a durable and sustainable cease-fire that prevents Hamas from threatening Israel in the future. The resolution was introduced in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

For a text version of the Senate resolution, please use the following link:

Please use the following link to thank your senator:

With Israel being forced to enter Gaza to defend its citizens from indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire, a bipartisan coalition of American leaders is voicing critical support for Israel's defensive measures. Since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas has launched more than 6,300 rockets and mortars at Israeli population centers. Please urge your member of the House to add his or her voice to the bipartisan coalition expressing support for Israel.

Use the following link:

Other Resources:

Israeli Embasssy in Washington:


Memorandum on Humanitarian Efforts - "Israel Seeks to Minimize Civilian Casualties, Facilitate Humanitarian Assistance" is a memo which focuses on Israel's attempts to prevent civilian casualties while carrying out its defensive operations in Gaza. The memo also details how Israel's operations in Gaza are proportionate and in complete compliance with international law, how Hamas intentionally places civilians at risk and how Israel is continuing to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza. To view and download the two page memorandum click here.

Frequently Asked Questions – "FAQs on the Conflict with Hamas" is a document which answers many frequently asked questions about the current situation in Gaza. Topics include Israel's parameters for accepting a cease-fire, Israel's use of proportionate force, Israel's efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and the prospects for peace in the wake of the conflict. To view and download the two page document click

For those looking to make a difference, click on, to make a donation to the Friends of the IDF. As its mission statement says, “The FIDF initiates and helps support social, educational, cultural and recreational programs and facilities for the young men and women soldiers of Israel who defend the Jewish homeland. The FIDF also provides support for the families of fallen soldiers.”

Finally, here is an e-mail reaction from Beth El congregant Mark Fox, regarding one of my prior messages:

Dear Rabbi:
Thank you for sharing the reports of Jan Gaines and Ethan Hammerman. The community needs to hear the opinions of self respecting Jews. Unfortunately, Jan is right about the irrational anti-Israel hostility of many opinion makers outside of the United States. What's most depressing is that so many English Jews, and a few Israeli Jews living in England, are actively trying to create an ideology that will allow them to distance themselves from Israel's predicament. To justify their viewpoint they are writing a new history of our people. They seem to be ready to drop the burden of Jewish history, to declare the Jewish people a mistake. I have no doubt that these opinions will eventually show up in our own community. If you want to know what is coming read the articles published on the topic of the Middle East by Jewish contributors to the Guardian Unlimited's Comment Is Free column and the extraordinarily hysterical article published in the Guardian by Oxford Professor of international relations Avi Shlaim. If we do not define ourselves these people will define us. In this context Ethan Hammerman and Jan Gaines’ writings are very important.
Let's hope we see a better time soon.

Mark J. Fox

We continue to pray and hope for the best, as the line in the proverbial sand now becomes clearer: it is Israel, representing the hopes of the civilized world (whether or not they know it) against the medieval fantasies of the mullahs of Iran.

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