David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

A Stream of Anxiety-ness

Eventually, Israel will regulate its breathing and start to metabolize the indigestible.

Questions will fester about failures and security breakdowns and hubris, protest movements and radical Knesset members all that precipitated the darkest day in 75 years.

These are all important questions and they should and will be dealt with. But not now.

What I want to call to the floor now, is what we do from the Diaspora to offer support in the days and weeks ahead.

Israel will exact a crushing blow to Hamas. Like Japan’s Emperor said after the airmen returned from the bombing sorties over Pearl Harbor with exuberance and pride, “Do not gloat. I am afraid we have woken a sleeping giant.”

Israel will pummel Hamas to a place where the glee they celebrate today will be a foggy memory. Hamas will rue the day they woke this sleeping giant.

Israel MUST respond with unprecedented and sweeping force. That will and must happen because:

A) Israel must warn those other terror groups like Hezbollah and ISIS and Iran through our response, what their fate will be should they naively question Israel’s resolve.

B ) We will not allow these barbarians to hold Israeli civilians and soldiers hostage a minute longer than needed. We will not have a reprise of Gilad Shalit and releasing thousands of murderers for dozens of Israelis after five agonizing years. We will have to painstakingly enter Gaza and sweep every nook and cranny, cupboard and tunnel, until we find each and every one of them and bring them home. That will be messy. It will be long. It will result in more Israeli deaths and an even higher number of Palestinian deaths. But, it must be done and it will be devastating to the Hamas infrastructure and civilians of Gaza.

C) Israel must in word, but more so in deed, comfort the citizens of Israel by proving to them with their response to this moment, ‘Never Again’ on our watch. Never will we let you be victim to our failures. Never will we cause you to sleep softly again. The security of every Israeli is and must always be, paramount.

If Israel does not annihilate, once and for all, the enemy on its border, who would ever consider living in the Gaza envelope, or anywhere in Israel for that matter. This will force the Israeli response to be fierce.

Any person or group that harbors, supports, celebrates, – and dare I say – is silent on condemnation about these barbaric terrorists and these acts, are a cancer on society and must be radiated out of commission for eternity without excuse or apology.

This operation will take time. I worry about that. Here is why.

After the shock settles, and world outrage dissipates, the International community will be quick to condemn Israel’s disproportionate response. I predict that propaganda pictures will be circulated of innocent Gaza women and children dying at the hands of Israel. The world will scream at the power and cruelty of Israel and its war machine.

Some leaders will ask Israel to show restraint. Others will demand a ‘proportionate’ response. More will condemn Israel in International arenas like the UN and ICC. Some of those same entities are silent today. A few are even celebrating.

We MUST stop this preposterous spin and outrage, in all of its venues, before it begins.

What happened in Israel today has eerie echoes of the Holocaust. Men, women, children and the elderly, killed indiscriminately for the crime of being Jewish.

In many ways, October 7, 2023 is worse than October 7, 1973, since the targets were primarily civilians. No Israeli was off limits. No age was a barrier. No background mattered. Women and children were ruthlessly murdered and their bodies strewn on the streets. Babies in car seats were riddled with bullets at a red light. Senior citizens barbarically murdered in cars with their lifeless bodies held up by a seatbelt. Entire families brutalized in their homes. Wounded hostages tortured and paraded about in Gaza like trophies.

And the world will surely ask us to show restraint?! To be proportionate?! In short time, they will condemn Israel!

We must be armed and ready at the offensive for any print media source, cable news network, social media site or water cooler pundit who will surely try and turn the tables and reverse the narrative. We must be vigilant.

Some have said this is Israel’s 9/11 moment. During those dark days in America, President Bush said, “You are either with us or against us.” So too, there can be no ambiguity in this moment. There are no middle of the road groups here. There is no place for fence sitting. There are evil doers and peace pursuers. It is black and white.

Make no mistake. This is not about occupation. It is not an invitation to discuss land for peace or normalization talks with neighbors. Do not get baited into that argument. This is about the undeterred focus of Hamas to annihilate the Jewish state and its citizenry. It is nothing less than old fashioned anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism.

Israel and lovers of Zion will never be the same after this fateful day. But our resolve is unwavering. Our support is unshakeable. Our bond has never been tighter.

Tomorrow, Israel will awaken to the reality that is its worst nightmare. They will begin their day by once again, tilling fresh soil to bury the dead, and send teenagers to the danger zone. As they do, know that our collective hearts are now and always in the East. L’Olam Vaed.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJR). He is the author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness, featured in The NY Times Book Review (Feb '24) and has over 11,000 copies in circulation in its first three months since publication. He has spoken on his book and topics connected to Judaism and Zionism across the world.
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