Tag Archives: Gaza

Israel in the Spotlight

Israel is getting a lot of attention these days, and unfortunately so are the Jews as antisemitic attacks and anti Israel rhetoric is on the rise.

You sure get a different perspective of the international response and international media once you’ve become an Israeli citizen. It never really dawned on me before this year how much focus there is on this tiny country compared to lots and lots of other places. Continue reading

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The Bigger Picture

I read an article by Gershon Baskin this morning that put some of Israel’s handling of the Israeli Palestinian conflict into perspective. I was specifically struck by this paragraph:

THE WAY that governments over the years have dealt with the Palestinian issue is not different than the way that our governments deal with any other strategic issue. We are always in the midst of a crisis. Our governments deal with crisis situations usually when it is too late to make an intelligently planned strategic change. Our governments are always “putting out fires” and only rarely invest the time and resources to develop a vision and long-term plans for reaching that vision.

Maybe someone should study the ME Peace process from the organizational behavior/public administration perspective, eh?

Check out the article here: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1231866575327&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Message from ICCI about Gaza

I’ve been getting lots of emails from both the right and left about how to handle the Gaza situation. I thought I would share with you Rabbi Ron Kronish’s letter from the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel’s monthly newsletter. I highlight this organization because it’s one that you may not know about, I used to work there, and it is working here on the ground in Israel on interfaith dialogue–a difficult task to accomplish in a climate of war. I always enjoy catching up with the work of this organization and hearing Ron’s eloquent words.

Dear friends,

I write this monthly message to you in the midst of the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.  This is a very delicate and dangerous time in Israel and the region.

On the one hand, the state of Israel needs to protect its citizens, as any other state would have the responsibility to do the same. When Hamas sends rockets and missiles to Israeli communities all over the southern part of the country, with almost one million Israeli citizens in danger, the leaders of the state cannot refrain forever from some defensive action.

Continue reading

More Thoughts on Gaza

The ground offensive in Gaza commenced this past weekend.

I feel pretty torn. Sometimes I feel supportive, and sometimes I am reserved and concerned about the operation.

At this moment in time I am worried about the long-term effects of the incursion. The humanitarian problems plaguing Gaza are disturbing to me. And the inevitable civilian casualty loss is rising.

Moreover, I am worried these attacks will only weaken any peace process (if there were even a chance of having one before this started). I don’t think the attacks will ‘teach Hamas a lesson’ or obliterate this terror organization. If nothing else, they will use the attacks to justify more attacks against Israelis. Palestinians in general will use the attacks to justify resistance–as opposed to nonviolent protests. I fear, moreover, that the more Israel attacks Hamas, the more sympathy they will get from Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank–which is a problem for Fatah. Its as if Hamas wanted these attacks to take place so they could justify continued armed struggle and strengthen their political base. Israeli actions will only entrench Palestinian tendency toward self-destructive ideology and actions. Cycle of violence anyone?

But what are the alternatives? If we live and let live would Hamas continue arming itself with rockets that reached farther and farther distances? I am all for opening the passages, but I fear Hamas will only take advantage of any literal and figurative openings that Israel offers to smuggle in more weapons and strengthen their base. We’re not fighting the Palestinian civilians. We’re fighting a terror organization that wants to destroy the state of Israel and doesn’t care how much violence it takes to achieve its goal. Perhaps that is just simplistic and painting things in black and white–feel free to offer more nuanced ideas.

So as far as I can see Israelis find themselves in the unenviable position of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t.’ I don’t see any endgame in sight.

Gaza Strike

I went online after Shabbat this evening to find that Israel went ahead with an airstrike on Gaza. I have mixed feelings about the whole situation. On the one hand, these types of military escalations can backfire and just make the Palestinians angrier. Do they really end up helping things in the long run, I wonder. Also civilian casualties, even when minimized, do result in these operations. The opposition uses these attacks as yet another propaganda weapon to show the oppressiveness and unjustness of the Occupation regime.

On the other hand, Israel has a right to protect its civilians who have been subjected to a continuing barrage of rocket fire. Some–particularly the right-wing–have been critical for its slow response to the Qassams as opposed to its aggressiveness towards the Palestinians. Also I can’t deny that I have misgivings about Hamas’ trustworthiness given its ideological bent and seeming efforts to take advantage of any openings on the Israeli side to inflict pain.

Surely the Gaza blockade and the military strikes create suffering for the Palestinians, but what are the options in terms of preventing the other side from augmenting its instruments of terror? If you allow everything to go into Gaza and if you don’t have incursions, how do you prevent weapons from being smuggled in. How do you know that the other side is just building up its resources until it can launch an even bigger attack?

And yet, how do you protect civilians without sabotaging efforts to create a lasting peace? Is it possible to reach a compromise or will each side find just one more thing, one more justification for continuing its actions? Will each side demand just one more thing in order to gain the upper hand?

If anyone happens to stumble upon this blog, I welcome comments. But please no rants. I am actually looking for observant, insightful and thoughtful comments which actually have evidence to back them up. Otherwise I just won’t post them.

JPost Article from ICCI

It’s been a while since I’ve written huh? Well I’m actually not going to write something just yet. Instead I’ll share with you an editorial that my boss, Ron Kronish, wrote about religious leaders needing to take the initiative in cultivating empathy for the other side and for encouraging religious conciliation.

The article certainly points to the difficulty in keeping the dialogue going in light of the conflict. These organizations try to affect the conflict by building understanding among peoples, but unfortunately the conflict often ends up impacting them by slowing down efforts.

It takes a great amount of strength to try to move past all of the emotional, historical, psychological, political baggage of the ongoing events and to let violence derail reconciliation efforts. But it is something that both sides must do. I was glad to hear about an event hosted by Jerusalem Peacemakers, which dealt with nonviolent teachings in each religion. I met one of the co-organizers at an event today, and he said that the discussion was a necessary response to the Merkaz HaRav shooting. He felt like it was needed to revive hope. I was also glad to hear that Pardes Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Landes spoke there, and was disappointed I couldn’t attend the event due to a conflict in my schedule. Continue reading

Snow and Deep Thoughts from Chief Rabbi

So the weather forecast for this week in Jerusalem is (drumroll please) snow! Perhaps the forecasters are as wishful as the ones in Washington and there actually won’t be any snow here. The people are probably as indept with dealing with an inch of snow than the people in Washington, I wouldn’t be surprised if schools closed because of a few flakes. I have to admit, it would be nice to see what this place looks like in white, although I dread the onslaught of Tel-Aviv Israelis driving up to Jerusalem just to see a few flakes.

In other news it seems like I came across an especially high number of news stories that touched a nerve. Apparently the army’s being on high alert in the south is bogus, according to YNET News. There actually did not seem to be a higher level of security along the Egyptian border. All the army’s announcement seemed to do was drive tourism away. Nor did it seem like the IDF took the time to meet with members of the communities and explain the situation. Meanwhile, according to Haaretz, Egypt arrested armed militants in Sinai. Oh joy. Continue reading