My colleague, Rabbi Michael Boyden, whose Hod Hasharon synagogue – Kehilat Yonatan – is 15 miles north-east of Tel Aviv, posted these reflections on a Rabbinic Listserve. I share his words with permission:
From: Michael Boyden
Subject: Operation Cast Lead
As Israel enters her second day of Operation Cast Lead against the Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a few points of information and words of comment may be of interest to those having to deal with the hostile reactions of our detractors.
- Israel never wanted this war. Even Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority and no friend of Israel, said that Operation Cast Lead would never have started if Hamas had been prepared to extend the ceasefire.
- I wonder how many people know that, on the day prior to the commencement of the Operation, we admitted a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in our country. He had been severely wounded by a stray Hamas rocket fired on Israel.
- A homicide bomber exploded himself today in Mosul, Iraq. In doing so, he killed and wounded Sunni Muslims, who were holding a demonstration against Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip. The people we are dealing with are driven by a fanaticism that shows no respect for any of the human values we profess. Who else would callously and sadistically hold Gilead Shalit prisoner for over 900 days without granting access to the Red Cross or providing his family with any opportunity to communicate with him? (Incidentally, the same is not true for Palestinians being held in Israeli jails.)
- Egypt’s opposition to Operation Cast Lead has been fairly muted. After all, it is Hamas and similar Muslim fundamentalist groups that threaten the stability of President Mubarak’s secular government.
- For those who criticize Israel’s action, I have just one question: Where as your voice during the months and years that thousands of Kassam rockets and mortar shells rained down on S’derot and our kibbutzim and towns close o the Gaza Strip?
- To those who argue that Israel’s action is “disproportionate”, I would ask this: How else do you stop an Iranian backed terrorist force operating out of civilian areas, who do not respect the Geneva Convention and who deny Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state?
- When people criticize Israel for closing the border crossings into the Gaza Strip, they have a short memory. Israel withdrew her forces from the Gaza Strip and evacuated Jewish civilian settlements in the area at great personal and economic cost. Instead of moving in peacefully, Hamas used the areas that we had evacuated to launch rocket attacks on undefended civilian targets in Israel. The closing of border crossings was used in a vain attempt to persuade the Palestinians that it was not in their interests to continuing firing rockets against Israel. Prior to such attacks, the crossing was always open. Even this very day, in the middle of the current operation, Israel allowed three aircraft from Qatar bearing humanitarian aid o land at El Arish airport in the Gaza Strip.
- You will notice that the pictures you are seeing of the Palestinian dead and wounded to date have all been of men. No women or children. If there had been women and children, the Palestinians would have been quick to use such material for propaganda purposes. Although innocent people will inevitably e killed, the identity of those killed and wounded testifies to the skill f the Israeli Air Force in pinpointing its attacks and limiting them to Hamas targets and infrastructure.
How are things in Israel? As ever, life carries on as normal. Jerusalem today was full of families celebrating Chanukah and enjoying the Winter sun.
The inhabitants of S’derot finally can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that the IDF is attacking those who have made their lives miserable over the last few years. No one mentions the children who grow up in fear, those who have returned to wetting their beds and the tens of thousands of innocent human beings who have been living their lives knowing that they had just 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter once hearing the Red Alert air raid warning. No one likes war, but with an implacable enemy like the Hamas, the current situation could not be allowed to continue.
On a lighter note: What is Operation “Cast Iron”? The term, “Oferet Yetzuka,” is taken from a children’s Chanukah song describing the latkes mother made!
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
Chag Urim sameyach, chodesh tov v’shavuah tov,
Rabbi Micky Boyden
Hod Hasharon Israel