Cheesecake and missiles do not mix. So sayeth a great friend of mine in Israel. From her kitchen somewhere in Israel, I learned that this is not one world. A tongue-in-cheek Facebook post brought my friend’s and Israel’s predicament, up close and personal to my serene Bavarian life in Germany. Her angst albeit with a touch of humor touched a vein.
I fell in love with Israel and its people some four and a half years ago. A short trip that threw me in a country I had always yearned to visit and ultimately found enchanting. From the beautiful hillside view of my best friend’s house in Haifa to a memorable Shabbat afternoon at the Kotel. My senses opened and so did my mind. A soft touch to the Kotel’s cool surface in prayer brought G-d closer like no other time in my existence. Israel entered my soul and has remained strongly imbedded in my heart ever since. I witnessed the daily strain on a people remembering their past, living the present, and looking forward to a peaceful future. A small country fraught with challenges but overtaking them all. A country surrounded by not too many friendlies, but stoic in its conviction that past persecution and pain makes it stronger. A country that continues to restrain itself despite continual attacks on its borders and beyond. A country where its people can still crack humor when the skies are lit up with the enemy’s intent at obliteration.
The attacks on Israel are hardly spontaneous. They escalated systematically while the country concentrated on the uprisings in Jerusalem. Using Sheikh Jarrah as an excuse, Hamas waited for the opportune time to strike. A decade-old court case was blown into a convenient series of anarchical riots in towns like Lod, where Arab-Israelis, mostly youth, attacked Jewish property, burnt cars, and continue to run amok instilling fear in peaceful residents who up to a few days ago were their neighbors. Sheikh Jarrah was a distraction that gave Hamas the time and opportunity to plan and execute its attacks. A siege nefariously propagated as social justice for a decade-old court dispute. The fact that Jewish youth also contributed to the mayhem didn’t help either.
Sheikh Jarrah morphed into an all-out war. According to the Associated Press (Stars & Stripes, May 13, 2021), Hamas has declared an intifada. The Associated Press like any other biased mainstream media stated that “there was no sign that either side would back down”. Exactly why should Israel back down? Israel didn’t throw the first punch. The mention of over 1,000 missiles pounding Israel was written more in passing than a good reason for retaliation. A convenient omission. The article was mostly dedicated to the devastation in Gaza and testimonials of Palestinians suffering under Israeli attacks. Barely any mention of Israelis young and old equally suffering to stay alive, like my friend who escalated her angst from baking cheesecake to spending nights in a shelter.
Three-quarters of the Associated Press article on “Mideast violence” was dedicated to Palestinian anguish at the hands of Israel. A two-sentence mention of the death of six Israelis to include an Israeli soldier was thrown in for small measure rather than significance. The Gaza “toll” of 53 Palestinians predominantly mentioned the number of women and children among the victims. Every life is precious, being Palestinian or Jew. But this is a familiar story. Omitted was also the fact that Palestinian children were taken to Israeli hospitals for treatment. Hamas knows that Israel will retaliate if attacked. They probably bank on it. It prolongs their agenda. Have they ever tried to protect their population? I’m going on a limb in saying that Hamas depends on the “toll” to garner sympathy, a twisted public relation ploy that unfortunately always seems to work.
The whole story is never told. Associated Press calls the Jerusalem riots Palestinian “frustration”. On the other hand, attacks on Israel are downplayed. Israel gets pounded and Hamas is frustrated. The one question that neither the media nor politicians have yet to ask is, why the intifada now? Why has Sheikh Jarrah suddenly become the symbol of oppression? A “situation” that has been going on for years. A delayed court hearing, probably one of many, could hardly have ignited the chaos and Gaza attacks. Common sense, a commodity these days, should give everyone pause to think and probably conclude that the attacks on Israel have little to do with Sheikh Jarrah or Palestinian eviction. Hamas saw Sheikh Jarrah as a diversion and an opportunity to attack.
The international community generally and condescendingly finds fault with Israel’s military retaliation. Bernie Goldberg, author of the 2008 bestseller, Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right, opined over the global community’s hypocrisy when it came to Israel. They seem to expect more of Israel and less from the Arabs. Why is that? Are Israeli standards higher? Isn’t that bigotry against Arabs? As missiles come down on towns and cities in Israel so little has yet to be demanded of the Palestinians and yet so much is being demanded of Israel. Why?
Disingenuously disguised as Human Rights, the narrative remains focused on Israel’s military prowess rather than its right to defend itself. Tel Aviv, Lod, Ashkelon, and Jerusalem, have been attacked relentlessly with little more than lip service condemnation that makes the evening news. How would the same global community react to missile attacks on Rome, London, or New York? Would they condemn the Italians, the British, or the US for retaliating?
The US, caught in a quandary of not knowing whether to condone or condemn, remains politically impotent by cautiously stating that Israel has the right to protect its sovereignty while condemning the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and putting Israel on the defensive, again. The Biden administration has remained relatively silent. A State Department spokesman asked for restraint from “both sides”. Really? The administration is “concerned” about heightened tensions in Jerusalem. Again, playing into the eviction narrative to justify missile attacks. A weak stance that undermines Israeli defenses and boosts Hamas’ intentions. Putting the responsibility of peace on Israel’s shoulder has remained the primary directive of the UN, EU, and human rights organizations. Hamas timed it well. A weak US leadership brought back visions of 2014, when Obama was president and Israel was locked in a war against Hamas. Another Hallmark moment.
Israel’s Proclamation of Independence albeit not a constitution, declared Israel a Jewish and Democratic state. This was affirmed in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. It was later reaffirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations giving the Jewish people the right to a national “rebirth” in their “own country”. The 1947 UN General Assembly Resolution vote sealed this right for all Jews. The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel solidifies Israel’s right to being a birthplace of the Jewish people, where they can develop spiritual, religious, and political identities. Israel gives all Jews the right and opportunity to return to their biblical and historical heritage from where they were dispersed and always hoped to return. Jews in Israel are inadvertently guardians and responsible to safeguard all Holy Places of all faiths and religions. Freedom of religion is a responsibility that Israel takes very seriously.
“I heard God talking to us all the time about the Land of Israel, and the place of a Jew there, and I knew this is where I wanted to be.” (May 2021, Lev Haolam interview) Ellen Miller Braun artisan of Biblical and Rabbinic sculptures, Karnei Shomron in the hills of Samaria. Israel is the place for a Jew. No Jew should feel threatened in Israel. The final resting place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and other patriarchs belongs to the Jews. They are the spiritual and rightful guardians of this Holy Land. A G-d given biblical right. Israel does not stand alone. I, a non-Jew, stand with Israel.
Associate Press, May 13, 2021. Mideast Violence, Tensions Soaring. Stars & Stripes
Bernie Goldberg, 2008, Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right.
Support@levhaolam.com (May 2021) Ellen Miller Braun. Listening deeply to Biblical verses