This week’s letter from Israel – December 8, 2023

December 8, 2023

My dearest friends,

This week has been very special for us.

In the midst of having our lives turned upside down, Phyllis and I became great-grandparents for the third time. Our eldest grandson, Ori, and his wife, Talya, presented us with our first great-grandson. Ori is a reservist paratrooper. He is currently serving on Israel’s northern border and was granted special leave to be at his wife’s side for the birth of their second child.

Omer is back in the thick of things. We don’t have direct contact with him. It took his parents more than 48 hours to tell him he’s been blessed with a new nephew. Omer has had to reschedule his wedding plans. Let’s hope that this time round, it’ll work out for him and his fiancé.

On the other fronts, Linor, our grand-daughter, has elected to extend her military service as a permanent member of the Israel Defense Forces. Our 46-year-old son-in-law, Amir, is serving as a reservist on Israel’s northern border. Ariel’s recovery continues and we’re confident he’ll be as good as new.

We’re in this for the long haul. Naturally, we’d like it to end sooner rather than later but we realize there’s a job to be done and that it needs to be successfully completed before we can return to our normal lifestyles. Unfortunately, there are no short-cuts.

The fighting resumed this week after Hamas defaulted on the most recent round of prisoner exchanges.

One hundred and thirty-eight hostages remain in Hamas captivity. The Red Cross hasn’t visited them. Our nation holds its breath while awaiting their release. It’s so difficult to fathom the cruelty of the Hamas leadership. What dangers do octogenarians on life-preserving medication, women and young kids pose to them? The strategic value of the hostages as a bargaining chip obviously outweighs any humanitarian consideration.

Military intelligence suspects Hamas is refusing to release the remaining female hostages so they won’t share their experiences of what happened to them. The reports appearing in the Jerusalem Post are hair-raising.

Please give the hostages a thought and include them in your prayers.

Most of the fighting is now in the southern tip of the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of entry piers to the Hamas underground tunnel network have been exposed and are being systematically destroyed. The quantities of sophisticated arms and ammunition being stored in the Hamas tunnel network has to be seen to be believed.

Military control centers and arsenals of weapons have deliberately been constructed under hospitals, schools, mosques and high-rise buildings to provide them with the human shields to protect them.

One of the most disturbing features of the past two months has been the discriminatory display of double standards applied against Israel.

Earlier this week, the presidents of Harvard, UPenn and MIT testified before Congress regarding the rising levels of antisemitism and hate speech on their campuses. Their responses were evasive, inadequate and disappointing. Having to deal with anti-Semitism on university campuses may be challenging. But anti-Semitism, if left unchecked, is a major threat to democracy.

When it comes to gender related issues, university responses are invariably clear. The actions taken are decisive. Yet, when it comes to anti-Semitism, the responses are guarded so as not to offend the proponents of anti-Semitism. Frankly, I expected much more from the heads of such prestigious institutions.

Over the years, countless organizations have been established to promote awareness of the social injustices that plague our world. As soon as these organizations hit the headlines, they are hijacked and become platforms for demonizing Israel and delegitimizing her right to exist.

Sexual abuse, sexual harassment and rape culture plague our world. The atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 have taken sexual abuse and rape culture to another level. Yet, it took UN Women seven weeks to issue a confusing statement condemning these attacks.

The bottom line is that UN Women doesn’t care about the rape atrocities committed by Hamas. They don’t care about the women being held in captivity by Hamas and the abuse they are being subjected to. For them, it’s all about the creation of a commission of inquiry with the pre-determined goal of pinning the blame for all the hostilities, including the decapitations and the rapes, on Israel.

Black lives matter. Of course, they do. All lives matter. I recognize that. I’m sure you also recognize that. Clearly, the leaders of BLM are not willing to recognize that. They’ve taken to the streets to applaud the October 7 massacre. In their eyes, Jewish and Israeli lives don’t matter. They’re expendable.

Fridays for Future was founded by Greta Thunberg and other activists to promote awareness of the potential dangers of climate change. Their platform has now been rebranded to something called “climate justice”. Does anybody know what that means? I wasn’t aware that the world’s climate patterns are back in synch and the quality of the air we breathe, couldn’t be better. I’m in my late seventies. I must have dosed off.

Since beginning my series of weekly letters and related articles, I’ve received many expressions of support and encouragement. I’ve also received some less complimentary comments, especially on social media. These comments often refer to me as being “privileged.” I had no idea that being privileged is considered a crime or curse.

Let’s be clear on this. I consider myself privileged.

My forefathers paid a huge price to ensure their children should always feel privileged. Generation after generation, they worked diligently to ensure their children received good educations. They made their children aware of their responsibilities to society. They even risked their lives fighting wars for countries who institutionalized anti-Semitism. They learnt how to live with the dual loyalty insinuations and all the implied implications including social and professional discrimination.

I was taught to tolerate opinions and customs different to mine. I was taught to uphold universal values and to pursue justice, not only for myself, but for mankind as a whole.

That’s why I consider myself privileged. I hope I’ve made the most of being privileged and I hope my children and their off-spring will always consider themselves privileged.

There’s absolutely no reason why anybody who recognizes and pursues these values, shouldn’t feel privileged. If we so desire, every one of us has the power to be privileged.

My condolences to those mourning their nearest and dearest. My wishes to the injured for a complete and speedy recovery. May God protect our brave soldiers.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and better times ahead.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Harris Zvi Green.

About the Author
Harris Zvi Green was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He made Aliyah 53 years ago. An accountant by profession, he served as the Chief Financial Officer for a number of Israel based hi-tech companies. He is married to Phyllis. They have 3 married children, 13 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Harris Zvi Green is a founder member of Truth be Told, an organization engaged in public diplomacy on behalf of Israel.