David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

Streams of Anxious Consciousness XII

There is a fantastic paradox brewing. As one congregant told me, “Rabbi, I am so worried about antisemitism. It is going to skyrocket. It already has.” He is right. Antisemitism always sleeps lightly. Moments like this will cause Jew hatred and Israel hatred – which is just another form of Jew hatred – to rise in the Western world.

Interestingly though, I have noticed an equally steep increase of Jewish pride and Zionism.

For decades, Jews have wanted a seat at the table in major universities, on museum boards and communal institutions. Today, Jewish leaders (and good moral Gentile ones) are quick to give up the coveted seat they once pined for if their Judaism is not respected or treated fairly.

Young Jewish adults, who were indifferent to their Judaism and apathetic toward Israel have been violently awoken to their history and destiny. Many have jumped headfirst into the moral and right side of this fight.

One 30-something year old from our community, who lives in Manhattan, has since attended three rallies, and spent her Sunday putting up blue and white lawn signs that proudly declare “We Stand with Israel.” This is a person who has yet to visit Israel and otherwise would make parsley jokes at the family Seder. Another person of similar age has taken to the social media airwaves to fight back at haters, while countless of his peers have been collecting supplies and donating chunks of their paychecks that would otherwise go to bar tabs. Hillel on campuses have mobilized and swarms of students are stepping forward. Priorities are shifting. Values are focusing. Collective abuse to our tribe is maturing the younger ranks quickly. Hamas has rattled the peoplehood into young Jews. They are showing up in force. Yes, our haters have knocked on the door, again. But our supporters are answering in great number.

I am having a hard time suffering fools these days. Truth is, I was never very good at it. But these times have whittled away any tolerance I did have for stupidity and thoughtlessness. Here is an example.

Yesterday, there was an old-fashioned sit-in in Washington, DC. Not at the Woolworth’s lunch counter but at the Congressional office buildings. About 350 people, many Jewish, were begging for a cease fire in Gaza. Rabbis draped in prayer-shawls chanting Jewish hymns on behalf of peace, cried aloud to not invade the Palestinian strip of land and just ‘give peace a chance.’ They tied themselves to one another and demanded that the war – that has barely begun – stop immediately.

It would be hilarious if it were not so damn tragic.

The number of captives in Gaza is rising by the day. Hamas hijacked the limited aid that has come into Gaza away from the starving civilians to fuel their criminal activity. As one meme said, Gaza has run out of everything, except rockets and fuel for rockets. The leadership of Hamas will not budge an inch on negotiations. We have seen no proof of life for the 200 plus abductees. Accounts are unfolding about the level of ghastly and grisly deeds these sub-human beings did to women and elderly alike, within sovereign Israeli territory.

And they think the answer is to walk away? To put our guns down? To put the tanks in reverse? Are they serious??

I loathe war as much as the next person. But sometimes in some places, one MUST fight back. One MUST stand up to the aggressor. One MUST declare NO MORE! What has been declared and proven for 75 years is if Israel lays down its weapons, we will be killed. What was proven last week, is if we think our enemy has laid down their weapons, they have not. They are just pulling a trick on us. A devious tactic to make us think they want peace. When really, they want to catch us off guard and kill as many as possible. They so much as said so. Their goal and resolve are crystal clear.

These peace activists are more driven by social inertia then they are morality and justice. They put all wars and conflicts into the same box, and they respond in like fashion. How juvenile! Yes, all wars involve death and bloodshed, and they should be avoided when they can. But they all cannot nor should not be avoided. This is such a war. A just war.

Beyond deterrence, beyond security, beyond reassuring its populace, there MUST be a sense of justice that eliminates forever the evil of Hamas. The world cannot reach its potential with a terrorist group like Hamas on the loose. They are a threat to humanity, worldwide. How does tying your Talis to a pillar in a D.C office building fix that problem?

The lens of Judaism through which I see our texts instructs me, that a sage who is usually stringent on laws but, is relaxed on a particular law, or another sage who is usually relaxed on laws but stringent on a particular law, is a sage worthy of respect. The reasoning behind that mode of thinking is that the sage can compartmentalize. The sage can look at situations in context. The sage does not put everything into the same box.

The foolishness of these protestors is that they fail to see the context and differences between this war and what this moment means to the Jewish people and Jewish state. This time is not different because we are Jewish. Or because it is Israel. It is different because if we do not respond with the extermination of Hamas, they have telegraphed their gameplan for what we can come to expect as their neighbors in the months and years ahead.

Moreover, these same protestors were decrying the ‘Israeli’ missile that killed 500 souls in a hospital. They were silent today when the deadly missile was proven to be errantly fired by PIJ in Gaza. The peace advocates are silent when the death toll, as reported by AFP in Europe claims 50 souls (still too many innocent people) and not 500.

Most egregious to me is the muteness of these protestors about a missile that was made and aimed and fired to maim and kill innocent civilians in Israel. But when it misfires and kills innocent Gazans, activists can erroneously and recklessly criticize Israel for the act. Is not a core tenet of peace and justice, honesty, and transparency? The double-standard is astonishing. Why are they loud when they suspect Israel and quiet when it was proven to be Palestinian terrorists? Where is the passion for truth and justice and calling out murderers??

One Hamas sympathizer claimed on social media how imbalanced the two sides are because Israel has Iron Dome. They also went on to say Israel has bomb shelters and Gaza does not?!

Another fool I cannot bear.

Does this buffoon know why Israel has Iron Dome? Because it was subject to thousands of rockets on its citizens. These are not precision projectiles. These nail and ball bearing filled crude rockets land aimlessly, including playgrounds, nursing homes and schools.

There is no question of chicken and egg here. We know that the Hamas rockets necessitated Iron Dome. That is why Israel invented and procured it. To safeguard its people who love life and protect them from the years of rocket onslaught they were subject to. That is the same driving force for Arrow and David Sling. As I am typing this report, I read of Houthi controlled missiles (read Iran sympathizers) who launched rockets toward Israel. The three rockets were intercepted by a US warship. Did Israel pick a fight with Yemen? The Houthis? Where and when does this end?

Has anyone cared to ask Hamas why there are no bomb shelters in Gaza? Hamas had the funds for terror tunnels, rockets and grenades. ‘Why did they not invest in secure places for their citizens?’ This middle-aged, overweight rabbi asks, in a sarcastic tone, and his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. I think we all know the answer. Even the peace activists do. They just turn a blind eye to those inconvenient facts.

Speaking of hypocrisy, did these activist-rabbis tie their tefillin to the Capitol lectern when Assad butchered ½ Million Syrians? Was humanitarian aid demanded to flow from neighboring countries when thousands of Libyans and Syrians tragically died from mass flooding a few months ago? The world did not even know of this painful reality or worse, they did not care. No major news source even reported it. Ask yourself earnestly, why is the attention of the world fixated on this narrow patch of land and the so-called injustices, now?!

Do we really think this is a tie-dyed, wrap our arms around one another, smoke a peace pipe moment? I most decidedly do not and would suggest those who aim to pacify today will have Jewish blood on their hands, tomorrow.

In my house, we are having an ongoing discussion (at times, a heated debate) as to whether the innocent people of Gaza have the wherewithal to revolt against the evil of Hamas. If the statistics are right, Hamas is between 10-25% of the population. Clearly a minority. But they rule with an evil, iron fist. I concede that.

My argument has consistently been that the very masses which created the Arab spring and made a new reality overthrowing Mubarak in Egypt, and Khadaffi in Libya, and Ben Ali in Tunisia, are also capable of overthrowing the wicked Hamas. The citizens either do not have the courage or do not have the divergence in views with the Hamas leadership, to do so. I dread knowing which is the real reason.

Originally, I thought I would write two or three of these blogs. Somehow, my fingers keep typing, my rage stays kindled and there is more to say. This is number 12. I think I will stop when I no longer can count in Roman numerals. Until then, thanks for reading and sharing. Putting my thoughts on paper helps me tremendously. I hope it helps you, even if a little bit.

Be safe!

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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