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This week’s letter from Israel – February 9, 2024

My dearest friends,

For me, this week started off on the wrong foot with the sudden passing of a dear friend of more than 60 years. Finding the words to comfort her family was so difficult. As one grows older, one becomes more experienced in things like this, but none of the stock phrases reserved for bereavements, could adequately express my deep sorrow. May her family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Last Friday morning, I attended a demonstration of the expatriate South African community in Israel to protest the South African Government’s decision to file charges of genocide against Israel at the ICJ. This issue continues to annoy and disturb me.

One of the speakers, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, said: “It’s all politics. It’s all bullshit.” Be that as it may, the politics and the bullshit, under the patronage of the international community, are stirring up anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric around the world.

Hamas and the other Iranian proxies in the region are becoming increasingly emboldened while antisemitism is sweeping through the streets of Europe and across university campuses in the United States at an unprecedented rate. Jewish communities around the world are becoming increasingly threatened.

The atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on October 7 are no longer an issue. The holding of 136 Israeli hostages for 126 days has been relegated to the back pages of the newspapers. The brutal killings and the gang rapes have long been forgotten. The outrageous charges made at the ICJ, the absurd comments made by the UN Secretary-General and the financial hold Qatar has on much of the media and academic institutions around the world, have effectively buried these issues.

I’m sick of the double standards, the demonization and the delegitimization. I’m more than disappointed with those who claim to act in the name of human rights but who repeatedly discriminate against my people and hold them to a different standard.

I’m happy for Israel to be held to the highest standard, but this standard must be binding on all.

I recently read a review of a new book entitled “Ethics of our Fighters” by Rabbi Shlomo Brody. In the midst of dealing with an existential threat and facing orchestrated criticism from our enemies, I found the book most interesting. It’s thought provoking and presents a multitude of issues that challenge the moral fiber of a nation at war.

The author relates to the criticism being levelled at Israel that Judaism is making us conduct our war for survival in an unethical manner. He believes traditional Jewish ethics contribute positively to the IDF’s moral behavior on the battlefield.

Rabbi Brody explains that in-depth research of traditional Jewish texts reveals that Judaism encompasses many values, including the importance of destroying evil. Judaism believes all humans are created in the image of God. It cares about the deaths of all human creatures and doesn’t require unnecessary deaths or collateral damage to achieve military objectives. Judaism brings a balance of values to address these complex moral and ethical issues.

The Rabbi believes much of the criticism of Israel is based on an exclusive concern for upholding human rights without giving any consideration to the need to destroy the forces of evil that threaten our very existence. He notes that Israel, in her efforts to avoid randomly killing innocent Gazans, should not put her own soldiers at unnecessary risk. This, too, represents a serious moral and ethical dilemma.

As Rabbi Brody concludes, there’s clearly a need to develop our moral fortitude to fully understand why we’re fighting this war. We need to win this war by doing what’s right and this includes destroying the forces of evil.

We need to judge ourselves by our own moral standards and not be deterred by selective criticism and the double standards used by our enemies. Responsibility for the deaths of non-combatants lies solely with Hamas who exploits them as human shields. The fact the world doesn’t recognize this, should be of no relevance to us.

Thanks to those of you who regularly inquire about the wellbeing of my family. Your concern means so much to me.

Ariel has made a good recovery from his injuries. He still requires some minor surgery. The doctors are confident he’ll be as good as new. Omer, too, will undergo surgery to address the infection at the bottom of his back. Much to his disappointment, this will sideline him from military action for the next two months. Ori has been released from the army for a few months and has resumed his studies. Eyal, too, has resumed his studies while Linor is preparing to embark on her academic career.

This war has been a major strain on my children. Having to contend with younger children in addition to worrying about the safety of their serving grandchildren in these tense and difficult times, has been a huge challenge.

The spouses of my grandchildren are also deserving of praise for providing their spouses with the encouragement and peace of mind to achieve their goals on the battlefield. I’m so proud of the way they handle themselves. These are the people who are winning this war for us.

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. May the hostages soon be reunited with their families.

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. Aged 77, 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.
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