There are things that are upsetting and wrong about Israel’s policies. I don’t agree with everything Israel’s government does. I have trouble with the deal that Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, made six decades ago with the Orthodox rabbinate to establish their hegemony over personal status issues-effectively excluding most of world-wide Judaism from these decisions. I have trouble with building the settlements. I have trouble with the electorial system is Israel that constantly requires coalitions of the oddest parties to create a majority government which causes craziness in trying to govern from a set of guiding prinicples. You can’t really have them because you have to buy off with promises those who are so different from you to lead the government. (Okay this is a problem of the Parlimentary style of democracy).
But I love the land of Israel and its people. And when it is attacked from the outside I stand with my family. No I don’t live there. But the land of Israel is my heritage. This is often hard for non-Jews to understand of the Jewish people. Israel is very much a part of the fabric of our faith, our being and our identity. It is why I am excited to spend my sabbatical there this summer. To drink in the flavor of the modern state. To understand what is happening there by being there, living there for an extended time, shopping in the market, reading the paper, visiting with friends and family.
And so in the past few weeks following the flotilla challenge of the military blockade of Gaza some have accused me of being insensitive to the plight of the Palestinians and a false voice for civil rights. But they don’t know me or understand me. I believe the Palestinians should have a safe and secure nation. But Hamas is at war with Israel and has been. And war is always terrible and difficult. My heart aches for the Palestinians who live in Gaza. They are held hostage not by Israel but by a terrorist group called Hamas. Let the world remember.
Israel is a democracy. One where there is dissent and a free press. Where voices challenge the government policies daily.
But Hamas doesn’t want any peace with Israel. It wants Israel’s destruction. And that is unacceptable to me.
Israel as a soverign nation must accept its responsibilities but Palestinian leaders must accept theirs. Fledgling steps are being made in the West Bank. We want to encourage and continue to encourage the strengthening of democratic institutions there and negotiations with Israel which are proceeding.
But Hamas must stop its war against Israel. They portray themselves as freedom fighters. but they are not. They are terrorists who are bent on Israel’s destruction. Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2006 from Gaza turning over millions of dollars in industry and property. Destroyed by Hamas. It could have been the beginning of an infrastructure to lift the people of Gaza out of poverty. But Hamas is a raging bull bent on destruction and hatred. Even Egypt recognizes the terror of Hamas. Return Gilad Shalit. And begin a conversation. Reject the destruction of Israel.
I for one will not accept Israel’s destruction or delegitimization by the Arab press or the United Nations. Even as my heart aches for the people of Gaza who are under the repressive and horrific thumb of Hamas.