The latest chapter in the State of Israel's nearly 60-year-old War of Independence continues, as fighting between the Israel Defense Force and terrorist groups along its northern and southern borders
continues at breakneck speed.
As was the case when, on the first day of its modern existence, Israelis
witnessed assaults on its borders from more than one direction, the threat is
grave, and casualties both military and civilian have been high. But just
like in 1948, the mood of Israel's people remains resolute.
Through the ups and downs of six decades of warfare and failed peace
overtures, much has changed, but this much has not: The goal of Israel's enemies
remains its destruction; the duty of Jews everywhere remains supporting Israel at
all costs and in every way possible.
Yet a certain fatigue has set in when it comes to such matters. While
rallying to Israel's defense, and creating campaigns to raise money to assist the
state and the Jewish victims of terror once proved second nature, for all too
many of us, such a swift and resolute response is something to be, at best,
The images conveyed by television broadcasts or reports in newspapers do
little justice to the horrors of war, and there is no doubt that both Arabs and
Jews have suffered in the last week as the fighting has escalated. In the face
of such terrible events, the impulse to turn away or merely sigh and place
the blame for the struggle on all those involved is felt by many onlookers.
After decades of media coverage that vilified Israel and airbrushed Arab
terrorists into "freedom fighters," some American Jews have joined the
blame-Israel-first crowd of activists, who've sought to delegitimize Israeli
or even questioned Israel's right to exist as a nation.
The question is: How will we respond to this new phase of war, in which
rockets have replaced suicide bombers?
Will we dither and equivocate while Jewish men, women and children are bombed
out of their homes by Lebanese terrorists, backed and armed by the criminal
regimes of Syria and Iran?
Will we stand back and argue as so many of us are inclined to do about
the rights and wrongs, and the details of Israeli military operations, whose
purpose is to defeat these terrorists?
Israel's enemies who are not only the foes of the Jewish people, but also
those of the United States and other Western democracies hope that that is
exactly what we'll do. They think years of propaganda have obfuscated the
simple truths of the conflict in our minds. In their arrogance and hate, they
think we are foolish enough to fall for their tactical goal of creating a conflict
so horrendous that the world will turn away in disgust, and effectively
abandon Israel and handcuff its armed forces.
In the coming weeks and months, it will be our obligation to prove them
Friends of Israel and the Jewish community as a whole make up a diverse
population that holds a variety of political and religious views.
But in wartime, with the deadly intentions of Israel's foes made clear even
for those whose illusions often prevent them from seeing clearly, this is not
the time for division on the basic question of Israeli self-defense.
We must act to aid Israel materially as it cares again for the latest
families of the victims of terror and those displaced by the current fighting.
We must speak loudly, and with as united a voice as possible in support of
Israel's justified military campaign, which seeks to end the status quo whereby
would-be killers cross Israel's borders with impunity, and then bargain in s
afety for the release of other killers.
We must say clearly that while Israel's goal remains peace, its Lebanese
neighbors, as well as the Palestinians, have no right to harbor killers, and to
allow them to use their territory and then pretend as if they had nothing to do
We must insist to the U.S. government and to our European "allies" that
Israel's response not be interrupted. Even more, we must demand that the
diplomatic focus of the world not be on Israel's reaction, but on the actions of
the terrorists, and their state-sponsors in Damascus and Tehran.
We must remind our fellow citizens that these terrorists are no different
from the Al Qaeda hijackers who attacked America in September of 2001. The only
answer they should get from democracies is full-fledged support for bringing
killers to justice.
Hezbollah, Hamas and their murderous allies have made no secret of their
goal. Our answer to them and to the people of Israel must be just as clear.
This is a moment for renewed activism and philanthropy aimed at shoring up
Israel's defense and the welfare of its people. Israel's leaders have vowed that
Jewish blood will not be shed with impunity again. We applaud their
resolution, and the courage and determination of the Israeli people day after day,
month after month, year after exhausting year.
We grieve for those lost and lament the undiminished willingness of Israel's
foes to sacrifice their own people's lives. But together, we must stand behind
Israel's soldiers and its government.
May their efforts be blessed and rewarded with victory.