Clifford Rieders

The Paradox of War and Peace

To the casual reader, it will sound like an oxymoron to say that one feels safer and more secure in Israel than in most other places in the world, including many locations within the United States. How could that be so? Every day the leaders of Iran and their allies in the terrorist world decry the existence of Israel and threaten total “annihilation” at the push of a button. In the meantime, Israel must fight for its existence in Gaza and in Lebanon, both territories occupied by anti-western operatives.

Yet, whether walking the streets of Ramla (a mixed Arab Jewish community), Rehovot, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or anywhere else in Israel, there is virtually no police presence because there is little to no street crime. While external enemies work hard to destroy this beautiful land of milk and honey, most people in this nation believe that they are better off than other citizens in the world and strive every day, in every way, to build a better and more just life.

Some say it is universal national service in Israel that creates an atmosphere of warmth (and it is hot here in the summer), commitment, and building a better future. No doubt that has something to do with the positive national motif.  However, there is a more deeply ingrained sense of what it means to belong to the original Abrahamic faith.

At a restaurant in Tel Aviv, the waitress asked me if I was “Shomer Shabbat.” I answered her that I was. She therefore brought over the unopened bottle of wine that we had ordered, together with the cork remover. She told me that she was not Shomer Shabbat and therefore I may want to open the wine myself. Wine is always holy, even if enjoyed as a beverage with dinner. There are those who believe that only biblically commanded Sabbath observers should handle the wine or touch the wine bottle. This not unique to modern Jewish life. It is claimed by some that Jesus at the Last Supper turned down wine served to him by a gentile.

I opened the wine and I asked the young woman if she ever considered being Sabbath observant. She answered me by saying that “someday” she would like to be, “but I do believe.” Such candid and heartfelt feelings are evident throughout Israel.  Even those who do not observe, most of them still show respect for others who do.

As we drove to Tel Aviv and marveled at the city of beauty built from the desert sands, one can fully appreciate how much Israel has to lose in a war with Jihadist nations that only seek destruction. The enemies of Israel and the Jewish people fully realize the magnificent society that the Jews have built in Israel. Can less than .2% of the world population, the Jewish people, really forestall another Holocaust aimed at the Jewish people? Appeasement has never worked for the Jewish people. When hundreds of thousands of Jews were burned at the cross or chased out of Spain in 1492, the government of Isabel and Ferdinand would not accept money in return for human lives. There were those who, prior to World War II, were willing to try to bribe the Third Reich to release Jews from the European slaughter that was about to occur. However, people like United States Ambassador to England, Joseph Kennedy, nominated by Franklin Roosevelt, turned down an offer from the Germans to accept 300,000 Jews. Hitler knew that the Jewish people had no allies in the west.

What makes Israel different is the commitment of its people to life, l’chaim. This is the opposite of the culture of death embraced by Americans, Europeans, and others who support the terrorists. The love of children, warm relationships, happy times, pleasant homes, religious fidelity, food and good drink is noticeable throughout Israel.

What of the 24% of the country who are Arabs, mostly Muslims but a few Christian Arabs? They mainly seek Israeli police protection due to organized crimes within their own communities. The biggest problem for Israeli Arabs is Arab against Arab criminal syndicates. As to the Palestinian Authority, which illegally occupies the West Bank of the Jordan River, the government there speaks as though it embraces the well-known Jihadist culture of death. The Palestinian Authority continues to pay suicide attackers for their “sacrifice,” and teaches hatred, rather than mathematics or sciences.

These are dangerous times for the Jewish people everywhere.  Unfortunately, it is not a new phenomenon.  Jews have been hounded and chased out of every land that they have lived in, including the Holy Land.  Israel is determined not to be the Alamo and not to be Auschwitz.

Perhaps with voters rebelling in France, Northern European nations, and probably America in the next election, there will be a recalibration of what it means to assure western values to all of those who embrace peace, freedom and democracy.  We can only hope and pray for a world that is willing to stand up to violence, unsupportable hatred, and bigotry.

About the Author
Cliff Rieders is a Board Certified Trial Advocate in Williamsport, is Past President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and a past member of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.