As a liberal, progressive rabbi from San Diego, today I am saying “Thank God for AIPAC!”
For almost two weeks, I’ve been blessed to be in Israel on our San Diego Federation mission celebrating 25 years of partnership with our sister region, Sha’ar HaNegev.
It’s a community of about 7,000 residents, situated in southern Israel between Be’ersheva and Ashkelon.
Our group has had a chance to visit its kibbutzim, enjoy home hospitality, and see firsthand the comprehensive work being done there to bring industry and good-wage jobs to both the residents of the community and to the surrounding region.
Ben Gurion’s dream of a desert blooming is coming alive in Sha’ar HaNegev.
But last week, and again over the last 72 hours, our beautiful sister region became the target of incessant terrorist rocket fire.
As in other cities across southern and central Israel, the people of Sha’ar HaNegev have spent much of the last several days in and near their bomb shelters. They are targeted by terrorists on the other side of the Gaza border simply because they are Israelis.
I’m writing these words on a tour bus filled with fellow San Diegans. Our hearts are with our friends seeking shelter in Sha’ar HaNegev, and with the Palestinian civilians who lost their lives.
Each day on this trip we are reminded of the rich multi-cultural interconnected nature of life in Israel that defies the simplistic narrative of identity politics some try to sell.
Our hotels are several miles down the road in Tel Aviv, where thousands of families, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Arab, Palestinian, African, Asian, American, European, all live together, and are also under attack.
Our lives are daily in the hands of our wonderful Muslim Arab-Israeli bus driver, and the watchful and protective gaze of our Druze security guard, both of whom are IDF veterans and reservists faithfully serving their country with love and loyalty.
Our security is further assured daily thanks to the IDF, Iron Dome, and David’s Sling.
I’m filled with gratitude for AIPAC and the work its staff, members, and partners do with Congress to ensure the funding for this lifesaving defense shield. Since Wednesday, over 370 rockets that would have otherwise crashed into Israeli cities and towns were intercepted by Iron Dome and David’s Sling – preventing untold civilian casualties.
AIPAC’s work across ideological and party lines isn’t easy. Today has served as a stark reminder of why AIPAC’s disciplined bipartisan approach is so absolutely vital.
The work of AIPAC is a sacred obligation; it is Pikuach Nefesh, the act of Saving Life.
AIPAC exists because we cherish life. Iron Dome and David’s Sling aren’t just protecting Jews, they’re also protecting Israeli Arabs, Druzim, Christians, Baha’i, Palestinians, Bedouin and every other person blessed enough to call this place home.
Rockets don’t ask for your affiliations and identities before they indiscriminately hit your house, your restaurant, or your office.
Because AIPAC stays focused on its mission to affect policy, and because they cultivate broad bi-partisan partnerships, they’re able to ensure Israel has the funding she needs to keep ALL of her residents safe.
AIPAC doesn’t ask us to support politicians we don’t like. It asks us to help advance the U.S.-Israel relationship, by entrusting it to work with Democrats and Republicans whose votes in Congress help keep Israel safe and ALL of her residents safe.
While no organization is perfect, today I can say that were it not for the work of AIPAC, the casualties would be much worse and the devastation would be unthinkable.
Thank you AIPAC for the work you do daily and year-round to ensure Israel can do her utmost to keep her residents, her citizens, and her visiting guests, as safe as possible. As a rabbi, a visitor to Israel, a family member and friend to so many who call this beautiful place home, I feel blessed and honored to be a partner in this sacred work. Today, more than ever, I am grateful for AIPAC.