The Enemies Within

I was standing in Cofix this morning, waiting for my latte, when I received a shocking email from Amazon. No, they weren’t slashing prices on the Kindle, or offering free worldwide shipping to Israel. What caught my eye was their email listing a review of the week’s most-read articles from the Washington Post, a newspaper that is under Amazon’s ownership.

While we in Israel are trying to absorb the tragic murders of the past four days and the bloody visions of destruction and violence, the Post’s summary of the week’s lead story, in an amazing bit of grotesquely poor timing, was entitled, “I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel”, authored by one Rebecca Vilkomerson, who bills herself as the executive director of an organization known as ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’.

On a normal, uneventful day, I would have ignored Wilkerson’s nine-paragraph screed of half-truths, non-truths, and outright lies.  But on this day, when a father of 10 children killed on Friday in a volley of bullets has been laid to rest, and when a family in Kiryat Arba is in the midst of a week of mourning for their 13-year-old daughter murdered in her bed, the words of this inaptly-named Rebecca cannot be ignored.

Ms. Vilkomerson laments the death of innocent Gazans in the conflicts of 2009 and 2014, and to add authority to her position, tells us that she herself lived in Israel during the 2009 hostilities.

She is upset about the security checkpoints, and Israel’s “matrix of control” in the area. While she mentions the ongoing attacks on Israeli civilians, with her remarkable system of fair play, she justifies them, because “these are a…symptom of ongoing occupation and repression.” In other words, if Israelis had been just a wee bit nicer and didn’t check for bombs so thoroughly, perhaps the killers in Tel Aviv’s Sarona market might have brought olive branches instead of automatic rifles.

In addition to Ms. Vilkomerson’s spurious claims of Israeli brutality and aggression, she espoused her enthusiastic support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), as a means to pressure Israel to make concessions in its foreign policy. BDS, in its true essence, is about the dismantlement of the entire Israeli state, not just disputed areas.

Ms. Wilkerson has had her say, and now it is my turn.

As many are aware, but perhaps have forgotten, in the summer of 2005, Israel left Gaza in a difficult withdrawal, abandoning flourishing settlements and agricultural installations. It left painful scars on the country, as thousands of Israeli citizens were left with no place to go. Yet, despite the pain, it was hoped that this unilateral withdrawal might lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Unfortunately, ever since that time, Hamas has turned Gaza into a launching base for attacks into Israel, placing rockets and launchers in the midst of apartment buildings and into houses.

And while no one in Israel rejoices over the casualties of war, both conflicts were precipitated by continued Hamas rocket fire into Israeli population centers. While Israel has managed to fend off its enemies, they have not hesitated to rearm.

Today, listening to the tearful eulogies delivered in Otniel, in memory of Rabbi Mark, one couldn’t help but be struck by the repeated entreaties for peace issued by the heads of the yeshiva to their Arab neighbors.  That is the true Jewish voice for peace.

Ms. Vilkomerson, your accusations to the contrary, I can assure you that no one wants a peaceful resolution more than the Israelis — even those who you claim, pelted you with eggs.

As we go through a most difficult period of sadness and mourning, let us be aware that the enemies of Israel are not only surrounding us, but sometimes are found among us.

About the Author
Rabbi Alan Rosenbaum is the vice-president of Davka Corporation ( one of the world's leading developers of Jewish educational software. He has lived in Israel since 1996, and writes extensively about Jewish life in Israel for the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel, and other publications.