Here is a video version of the message below:
It is difficult to find the words to express the depth of the emotions felt at a time such as this. Some that come to mind are: shock, devastated, worried, concerned, anguished, sad, angry, devastated, outraged, horrified, heartbroken. Our feelings of despair are prompted by the scenes of the sheer brutality, cruelty and animal-like behavior of the Hamas terrorists who indiscriminately gunned down and murdered anyone they can, taking children, babies, elderly, men and women captive. Equally disturbing are the scenes of those Palestinians and Arabs who celebrate with joy and rejoice at the barbaric atrocities.
The unprovoked, unjustified attack launched on a sabbath that was also a Jewish holiday is a stark reminder of what Israel faces and why it must be so vigilant in doing whatever is necessary to protect its people and to not allow attacks to go unanswered. This is the largest number of Jews killed in one day since the Holocaust.
It has often been said – Were the Arab armies to lay down their arms for a day, nothing would happen, but if Israel were to do so, the response would be brutal and immediate. Sadly, we now know that this was not just rhetoric, or a talking point, but true.
The one emotion we must feel at a time such as this, in addition to everything stated at the outset is solidarity — solidarity and unity with our brothers and sisters in Israel.
To that end, I want to prepare you for what to expect in the upcoming days as Israel prepares an all-out response and may seek once and for all to defeat Hamas.
- While the initial press coverage in most outlets has been positive and sympathetic, do not expect that to continue once Israel begins to respond.
- Expect to hear terms such as: “cycle of violence” and “Israel launching a ‘disproportionate response.’”
- There will be efforts to evoke sympathy for the enemy, as Hamas hides behind civilians and uses schools and hospitals, some affiliated with UN organizations as launching pads for their rockets.
- Attempts to explain that the reason for the attack is because of frustration over the so-called “occupation” should be rejected outright. The only Israelis in Gaza are those being held captive as hostages by Hamas.
- Rather than chose the path of peace after Israel vacated the Gaza Strip, Gaza instead aligned with the murderous regime in Iran, who is behind the attack, and who wish to prevent Israel from making peace with any of its neighbors in the region.
- There will be solidarity rallies for Israel, and the enemies of the Jewish people will also be out in full force with their lies and distortions.
Those who choose to support Hamas make a statement of their values and what they support. Now is the time to make a stand and show your values.
How to respond, and what you can and should do:
- Write to Senators, Members of Congress and the White House thanking them for their steadfast “rock solid” support for Israel.
- When a media outlet or social media posting misrepresents, misreports or distorts what is going on, speak up – respond, call or write and let them know it is unacceptable.
- Watch for information about a community response or rallies in support of Israel, and come to synagogue on shabbat, and any special services or vigils.
- The cost of the war and the damage it has done will be significant and the burden should not be only absorbed by Israelis. Our local Federation, in cooperation with JFNA, the Jewish Federations of North America has set up an “Israel Crisis Fund”. Please support and contribute by donating to the Israel Crisis Fund .
Three final things to keep the attack in context once you hear apologists trying to justify the attack.
- Ever since Hamas took control of Gaza after Israel vacated the area in its entirety, rather than develop a peaceful haven and invest in its people, Hamas chose to build infiltration tunnels, purchase and launch rockets, send balloons and kites to set fires across the border in Israel doing ecological damage, brainwash its people with hatred and the most vile anti-Jeiwsh propaganda and do whatever it can to terrorize and murder Israelis.
- Hamas’ activities are funded and supported by the repressive regime in Iran, the biggest sponsor of terrorist activities in the world.
- Israel’s response will be strong and unrelenting and will not be pretty, as it most likely will seek to inflict a fatal blow to Hamas so that it will be eliminated and will no longer be a continuous threat to Israel.
One final note, many of us have friends and relatives in Israel, and some of them may be serving in the armed forces to defend the country. We pray for the safety of all those in Israel and for the safe return of those being held captive.
May we stand strong and united with the people of Israel.
Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt,
Chairman, Zionist Rabbinic Coalition