As I embarked on my first adventure to Jewish summer camp, I was filled with excitement and optimism. Sadly, these notions were reserved for the Jewish communities of North America. For my other community, the largest Jewish community in the world and the one in the Land of Israel, the situation appeared grim. My fears stemmed from the Palestinian Authority’s Unity government between Fatah and Hamas, which was announced in April 2014. The idea of a Unified PA meant that Israel’s sole partner, albeit illegitimate (more on Fatah in the future), would rather make concessions to a terror organization than the government of Israel. Two months since the Unity, three Hamas kidnappings and murders in Judea and Samaria, one revenge killing, and an increase in Gazan rocket fire, I boarded my flight to Denver, Colorado, thousands of kilometres from the conflict physically but far fewer emotionally.

In the wake of the kidnappings, Israel invested heavily in eradicating the Hamas presence in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) in what was known as Operation Brother’s Keeper. In the process 350 Arabs were arrested and charged for their involvement with Hamas. Soon after it was discovered Hamas operatives murdered the Jewish students shortly after their kidnappings, it was also discovered that an Arab boy from East Jerusalem was murdered in an apparent revenge murder for the loss of the three boys by extremist Jews. Quickly, Jewish and Arab centres across the country erupted in violent protests with each faction placing blame on the other.

However, protests and riots have given way to Operation Protective Edge; Israeli’s mission to destroy Hamas’ bases for terror in Gaza. In what began as targeted air strikes, the Operation has now turned into a ground offensive by the Israel Defence Forces. Reminiscent of Operation Defensive Shield, Israel’s 2002 Operation in Judea and Samaria during the Second Intifada, Israel’s goal is to bring lasting quiet for the Israeli citizens of central and southern Israel by putting an end to Hamas’ reign over Gaza.

With a ceasefire apparently on the horizon, Israel must weigh its two options in confronting Hamas and terror, be it based in Gaza or Judea and Samaria. These two options were argued on heavily between our Jewish North American counselors and Israeli counselors in our staff room at Camp Ramah. Option A, Israel must act with restraint because every civilian killed “forces” one more Palestinian family to find solace in Hamas’ words of hate for the Zionist occupation. Option B, continue to seek out and destroy those who desire the ultimate end of the Jewish State

My disagreement with the former, Option A, stems from the root of Anti-Zionist, Anti-Israel, hatred among the Arabs living West of the Jordan River in a land I call Israel. The Arab hatred for Israel, be it living in Judea and Samaria or in Gaza stems from virulent anti Semitism that pre dates any occupation or any Jewish majority in their Palestine. Lest we forget the 1921 and 1929 pogroms in the British Mandate for Palestine which claimed the lives of ARAB Jews living in Jaffa, Jerusalem and Hebron. Furthermore, let us remind ourselves that in the Palestinian State of Gaza there is no Jewish occupation, no Jewish settlement and no Israel Defence Forces. The only occupying force in Gaza is that of venomous Hamas which directs it’s rockets against Israeli kindergartens and civilian centres.

Hate and terror will only end when Hamas and those supporting Hamas are destroyed once and for all and when the Palestinian realizes that it is in his or her best interest to support the side of humanitarian aid, the side of justice and the side of legitimacy irrespective of religion or nationalistic ties. They must choose the side of Israel.

Dan Poliwoda