It seems like a long time since I last wrote. Well, maybe because it is a long time, some of which is attributable to my being abroad and some from severe jet lag. While in the U.S., I experienced what some would refer to as “culture shock”. It simply is not the same place that it was when I left there in the mid-80’s. My wife’s suitcase was “lost” on the way over and then “found, three and a half weeks later, the day before the return trip. On landing in Tel Aviv, my wife and I discovered that her suitcase did not make it on the plane together with us. But, the airline was prompt and diligent to deliver it to our home the very next day. The great part about the trip was catching up with dear friends and even having a mini-family reunion. There were times of sharing the Word of Truth in local congregations, as well as about our pro-life ministry in Israel. We were in four states and drove through two more. All in all, we had sweet fellowship with precious brethren and were able to catch up with family members. The time seemed to fly.
Upon returning to Israel, the big issue of the day was the backlash against the passage of what is known as the “Nation-State Law”. Its passage has resulted in renewed accusations of apartheid, caused at least one politician to submit his resignation as a Member of Knesset (Israel’s Parliament), generated mass protests and created a serious rift with the Druze community in Israel, which, up to the time of the Bill’s passage, had been strong supporters of Israel and, and, and….
What is it about this new law that has generated such antagonism and split even further the political divide? Is the criticism justified or is it merely the result of a lack of understanding regarding its content and consequences? This is what was on my mind, but it took second place to the recent events taking place in the south of Israel.
As a brief reminder, every Friday for the last several months, violent demonstrations have taken place along the Gaza fence, which separates Gaza from Israel communities in the south of Israel. As part of those weekly incidents, whose participants number in the thousands, terrorists use all kinds of weapons against the soldiers who are protecting our southern border. While various weapons have been used by terrorists from Gaza against the IDF, causing injuries and even one soldier’s death, the Hamas terrorist organization has also used incendiary kites that have destroyed wide areas of agricultural property and have caused damage to residences, businesses, and individuals here.
However, beginning this past Wednesday night and continuing into Thursday, Hamas once again broke the cease-fire that it asked for and about 200 rockets were fired from Gaza into communities by Hamas terrorists. The Reuters News Agency captured one of the Hamas missiles exactly at the moment when it was intercepted and destroyed by Israel’s Iron Dome Defense System. But, when Hamas tried to stretch its wings and fired a rocket toward
Beersheva, that was the trigger that resulted in the IDF retaliating and destroying a building in Gaza City that was used by the internal security forces of Hamas. Israel retaliated against approximately 140 Hamas military targets. People on both sides of the conflict have been injured or wounded, some seriously, some mortally.
The missile barrage on Israel of some 200 projectiles within the space of less than 24 hours was picked up by many media sites. But, not all of them bothered to deal with the essential facts, so that the matter could be put into proper perspective. This appears to be particularly true when the one on the receiving end is Israel. As is often the case when reporting about Israel, the realities of the situation are twisted to the point of casting blame on the victim, Israel, instead of Hamas.
Case in point, as reported in Hebrew by Ynet: The British Broadcasting Company (the BBC) issued a Tweet, whose headline read: “Israeli airstrikes ‘kill woman and toddler'”, without any mention of the rocket barrage fired at Israel. A spokesperson from the Israeli Foreign Ministry responded: “This is a formal complaint by [the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs]. This title is a deliberate misrepresentation of reality (that’s the polite equivalent of “this is a LIE”, if you don’t get it). Israelis were targeted by Hamas and IDF acts to protect them. Change it IMMEDIATELY!!!”
While the Twitter account did not change the headline right away, the news site changed the headline to read: “Gaza air strikes ‘kill woman and child’ after rockets hit Israel.” Later on, the original Tweet in Twitter was deleted and a new Tweet was written: “The Israeli army says it attacked Hamas targets in response to the firing of dozens of rockets at Israel.” What should be noted about the “P” report of the mother and child is that the “Ps” actually took the photo from somewhere else. It is a photo of an American baby that they downloaded from Instagram.
Most of the larger news networks were fairly balanced in their headlines, even those which chose to include in the bylines the death of the “Palestinian” mother and her daughter, following the Israeli response to the missile barrage. But, the popular Italian newspaper, “La Republica”, stood out in its blatant failure to every try to present the reality of the situation. It read: “Gaza: A pregnant Palestinian mother and her daughter, a year and a half old, were killed by bombings.” In the sub-headline, there appeared only: “Among the victims was also a 30-year old man. The present escalation in the Gaza Strip comes when Egypt and the U.N. are brokering an attempt to bring about a cease-fire.”
The firing of missiles from Gaza was not mentioned at all in the article that appeared on the front page and only those who bothered to read further were able to discover the information about the firings from Gaza. It seems that only when we do something, that it becomes newsworthy – distorted, but newsworthy.
I could easily relate to the multitude of different news sites that bothered to report on the matter, which didn’t even try to put first things first. But, this would only repeat what has already been written. Prejudice against Jews and Israel is expressed in many forms and, sometimes, it is expressed by its failure to present the entire picture, thus creating a misleading impression, which allows one’s innate attitudes to take over.
But, where do we go from here? There has been yet another “temporary” cease-fire. If things go as they have always gone, the present cease-fire will soon cease – Hamas will once again fire missiles into Israel and we will once again retaliate. And we will be blamed again for defending ourselves and for surviving and for the consequences of our retaliation to the instigation of Hamas.
Expressed somewhat differently, we are, and will continue to be, accused of a disproportionate response. And the cycle will begin again. Residents in the south of Israel are willing to risk war for the sake of gaining long-term peace and quiet. Mothers do not want to constantly be in a situation where they need to decide which child to save when the sirens sound, signaling incoming missiles.
As a result of the missile bombardment, Air Force personnel were called up and ground troops were being prepared for a move southward for another military engagement with Gaza. Israel is pragmatic and knows that at some point, it will have no choice, but to re-enter Gaza. Most of us will agree with the words of President Thomas Jefferson: “I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another.” War is not our goal, nor is it our desire. It never has been. But, it is a reality that we have dealt with in the past and will, unfortunately, have to deal with again before too long.
So, why haven’t we already put an end to this on-going cycle of “If you hit me, I’ll just hit you back, harder”?
Several possibilities exist: (1) Gaza is simply a time bomb with a fuse, that once it is ignited, it will cause the entire region to explode, something that Israel does not want – nor do most of Israel’s neighbors; (2) If a war breaks out with Hamas, which is an Iranian proxy, Iran could pull the strings with its other proxies in the region and bring about a multi-front war with Israel – Hezbollah in Lebanon (north), Assad in Syria (northeast) and Hamas from Gaza (southeast), as well as the possibility of direct confrontation with Iran (from the far northeast). While being far from an ideal situation, Israel is already planning for this eventuality; (3) Another war with Hamas is likely to generate a worldwide backlash, particularly from a media point of view. Regrettably, Israel has not done well in the war of public opinion.
And so we wait.
In the meantime, proposals are being considered in order to bring about another, admittedly, “temporary peace” with Gaza. But, none of the proposals are good for Israel. We cannot allow our enemies to dictate to us terms for peace. The consequences of “them” deciding, rather than Israel, will be disastrous. It’s been said that “War settles nothing.”
“And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples, And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Have a great week and remember: Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.