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This week’s letter from Israel – March 1, 2024

March 1, 2024

My dearest friends,

We are now one hundred and forty-seven days into this bloody war. The past five months have been challenging. Having close family members risk their lives in defense of our country, listening to the hair-raising accounts of their experiences and being confronted by a tsunami of antisemitic hatred, has taken its toll.

Experiencing the arrival of a great-grandchild and the wedding of a grandson during this time were especially gratifying, but also uniquely difficult. How does one celebrate when our young men and women are putting their lives at risk to defend us and 134 of our fellow citizens remain in hostage? How does one comfort the bereaved and celebrate special events in the same breath? There are so many conflicts in our everyday lives.

My faith in universal values has become eroded. I believed these values represented principles that transcended cultural, religious and international boundaries. I got it badly wrong. What was once considered good is no longer virtuous. Bad is no longer evil. Truth is no longer absolute. It’s become contextual. Even flexible. There’s no accountability. These so-called “universal values” haven’t stood the test of time.

The atrocities of October 7 have been rebranded. They’ve been rationalized. When they aren’t plausible, the atrocities are either regarded as unverifiable or simply denied. Given the unimaginable and primitive acts of savagery of October 7, I can understand that.

Whatever way I look at it, murder is murder. Brutal mutilation of dead bodies is savage. It’s not an integral part of a national struggle or the exercising of a right to self-determination. Rape is rape. It’s not resistance.

I question my identity. Once upon a time, I defined myself as a liberal. Live and let live. I believed democracy, mutual tolerance and respect were liberal values. Again, I got it badly wrong. Today, people who define themselves as liberals tend to display intolerance and even contempt for anything that doesn’t gel with their view of the world. Perhaps liberalism should be defined as the right to call yourself whatever you like rather than being an absolute value in itself.

It’s like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea. Does that make North Korea a democracy? Wikipedia describes North Korea as a totalitarian dictatorship. I don’t understand how one can confuse a democratic country with a totalitarian dictatorship. Maybe it’s my poor English.

I never expected anything from Hamas. I do, however, expect much more from heads of state, from the executives of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations, from religious leaders of all faiths and from the presidents of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions.

One hundred and thirty-four hostages remain in captivity. This number includes the bodies of 33 soldiers and civilians. As far as Hamas is concerned, even dead bodies are a legitimate bargaining tool.

The same heads of state, the same humanitarian organizations, the same religious leaders and the same academic institutions continue pressuring Israel to provide even more humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Nobody wants innocent people to starve to death. But what do these hypocrites in positions of power and influence have to say about the illegal abduction of innocent hostages, including octogenarians, women, children and even dead bodies? Very little. What are they doing about it? To be precise: nothing.

Humanitarian values cut both ways. I’m sure true liberals will concur.

Embarrassed by UNRWA’s complicity in the October 7 massacre, UNRWA’s donor countries put their contributions on hold pending further investigation. Asmund Aukrust, a Norwegian politician, immediately retaliated by nominating UNRWA for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The New Arab, a London-based news outlet owned by a Qatari company, is supporting this absurd attempt to sanitize UNRWA. In their promotion piece, they justify this initiative by praising UNRWA for their “crucial humanitarian support in one of today’s most devastating humanitarian contexts.” Yet another attempt to rewrite history and legitimize the continued funding of terror.

Can any self-respecting human being rationalize awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to an organization complicit in the October 7 massacre? It’s an affront to mankind and an insult to human intelligence.

UNRWA’s very existence perpetuates the conflict. The idea of rewarding UNRWA and its incompetent Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, is outrageous.

Last week I referred to the racist statement made by a South African member of parliament who said, “if the city of Cape Town is handed over to the Zionists, there will be a bloodbath. We will not allow you to make it a Jewish state”.

I received a comment telling me not to confuse anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

Imagine the outcry if an Israeli politician said, “if the city of Jerusalem is handed over to the Jihadis, there will be a bloodbath. We will not allow you to make it an Islamic state”. This politician would be accused of being Islamophobic and ostracized by his colleagues.

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. May you all be blessed with good health to see smiles on the faces of your loved ones for many years to come.

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.