Pray For Israel.

Friday we prayed for a lot of people around here on the blog. I’d like you to mount up and continue praying for them as the day goes on – most of them need it badly and I’m honored to have you at my side in these prayers.

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There’s another prayer that needs to go up: Please pray for Israel.

Unlike some of my friends, colleagues, and associates, I’ll make no apologies for that prayer. I believe that Israel is worthy to stand on her own merits and be ranked at the top of the nations. I am not basing this belief on an ancient Biblical text that says Israel is the chosen and favored of God. Nor am I saying this because Israel has some other hold on me.

I say this because they are worthy of our support. They are a democracy. They have freedom of religion. They take in thousands of immigrants (legally) each year and those people become a vibrant part of the society. I say this because the Jewish people have been hunted to the ends of the earth and this is their refuge. I say this because if they lose the battle they will be exterminated. The rivers will run red with the blood of children if the Jihadists get their way. (spell check tried to change jihadist to sadist – clever spell check!)

If you want to know who the enemies of Israel are just mention the topic. I am constantly dumbfounded by the vile filth that pours from people’s mouths on the topic. I am not amazed at the non-nonsensical moral equivalence that people create between Hamas and Israel. These are the same moonbats that thought we were no different in the United States than the Soviet Union was in our course of affairs. Sadly, one of those moonbats is now Secretary of State.

Hamas sends children with mental problems out as suicide bombers. Israel… well, they don’t. Israel, just by the bye, isn’t blockading Gaza. They won’t let weapons in when they can catch them, but food, medicine, concrete, books, clothing, all the staples of life get in regularly. Hamas uses them to build tunnels and weapons depots to hide their rockets under schools and hospitals. And mosques. Hamas demands the removal of all Jews from the area. Israel, um, er, just wants peace. Hamas seeks a caliphate. Israel has religious freedom (mentioned twice here, it’s kind of important in my opinion.) Israel is not the moral equivalent.

Here’s my analogy: Israel is the guy down the block that keeps upgrading his house and planting trees. He only asks to be left alone. He’s got a serious collection of weapons in his basement but doesn’t use them. Hamas is the group of thugs next door who stand in the back yard with their children playing on the swings. Every now and then they throw a grenade over the fence into Israel’s yard. Thousands of times. Finally Israel has enough, warns them to leave the yard because they are going to demolish the swings. Hamas herds all the family out to the swingset and then goes back into the house to take pictures when the bloodshed begins. That’s what we’re dealing with here.

So, how many rockets is it okay to fire into Fort Meyers, Florida – or Billings, Montana – before you go down the road and kick some butt? Yeah, that’s what this comes down to in the end. All the Israelis want is to be left alone. Once Hamas lays down the weapons and turns to a peaceful way of life, they have nothing to fear from the Israelis. But that wont’ happen: the Hamas charter explicitly states that the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable.

I’m too old to go and do anything useful in Israel. But I can pray. And speak up for our only true friend in the Middle East. Israel isn’t perfect, just ask the Liberty survivors. But they sure beat all the other contestants in that region.

Pray for Israel. Pray for peace.


Pray For Israel. — 1 Comment

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about covering my ears and eyes lately – and I know I’m not alone. It seems like every time I see, hear or read about Israel, I hold my breath. The tragic death of hundreds of Palestinian women and children, the destruction of countless homes and infrastructure, the misery in the streets of Gaza is horrific. At the same time, the anti-Semitic vitriol being spewed in the media and on the streets of cities around the world and close to home is paralyzing. I read of Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields. I see pictures of the tunnels leading from Gaza to the dining Halls of Israeli Kibbutzim. I hear reports from friends and colleagues in Israel about terrorized children fleeing to bomb shelters and safe rooms as rockets land in their neighborhoods. I gaze at the photographs of anguished parents who have to bury children who sacrificed their lives wearing the uniform of the Israel Defense Forces and I want to turn it all off.

    But I can’t.

    This war has spilled beyond the physical boundaries of the Middle East. There is no escaping the conflict – it is all consuming. The Medieval Hebrew poet, Yehudah Ha-Levi wrote: “My heart is in the East, and I am in the uttermost corner of the West.” His words reflect the ancient pain and longing of Jews to return to the land of Zion. Today, although the physical distances separating the Diaspora community have not changed from the time of Ha-Levi, the reality of instant communication has brought destruction and devastation into our living rooms and computer screens. Our lives are not in danger like our brothers and sisters in Israel, but we feel the conflict, nonetheless. We cannot escape it.

    Let’s face it – defending Israel’s actions is not always easy. In the face of the exponential death toll unfolding in Gaza, any attempts to place the blame where it belongs – on Hamas’ goal of racking up casualties to engender sympathy around the world – can sound hollow and callous to those who do not understand the true picture. Israel has no choice but to eliminate the sources of rocket fire and the terrorists bent on violence. As horrific as the term “collateral damage” sounds (and is), it is a reality of modern warfare. Hamas knows this very well and they understand that every civilian death is more powerful than any missile they launch or tunnel they dig.

    Our tradition teaches that the pursuit of peace is one of the most important mitzvot that we can perform. And yet, there are times when war is a necessary evil. The rabbinic concepts of Milchemet Mitzvah (a war which one fights after being attacked) and Rodeyf (the obligation to prevent an enemy from killing you by attacking him/her first) provide a clear justification for Israel’s engagement with her enemies.

    For those who do not understand the history behind this war, Israel is easily portrayed as the aggressor. In our sound-bite world of instant information, few people who are not invested in the topic want to take the time to unpack the decades of conflict that have led up to this point in time. They see death and destruction and the disproportionate casualty reports and they buy into the Palestinian propaganda that portrays Israel as a demonic, colonial occupier.

    At the same time, there are those among us who cannot or will not acknowledge that every casualty diminishes the image of God – regardless of who is the victim. They refuse or choose not to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the Palestinian people. This is wrong. As Jews, we are taught that every human life is precious for we are all created in the Image of the Divine. In the Midrash, we read of how God rebukes the angels who rejoice in the drowning of the Egyptians in the Sea of Reeds. “Be quiet! My children are drowning and you rejoice?” (Talmud Sanhedrin, 39b). Recent reports of racist mobs attacking Arabs on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are very sobering. While it is clear that these actions are condemned by the vast majority of Israeli citizens, they nonetheless should give us pause and force us to look at the damage that 66 years of conflict is causing to the psyche of the Jewish state.

    Our task, then, is to defend Israel’s right to defend herself without losing our own humanity. If we ignore or (even worse) become immune to the tragedy unfolding in Gaza, we are like our enemies – whose leaders glorify death and suffering as a legitimate weapon of warfare. The Jewish people know all too well the ultimate consequences of dehumanization.

    Hamas must be stopped. Their reign of terror – on Israel and on their own people – must be ended. But as soon as the dust has settled and this war is over, we must begin a new campaign – a campaign for a lasting and true peace. It will not be easy to find – and it may take a new generation before it comes to fruition, but we must never stop looking for new pathways for peace.

    Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.