Monday, July 21, 2014

Current events in Israel

To all who read my blog, I want to offer my very heartfelt thanks for you taking the time to share my perspective in this crazy world that we live in. I haven't been very good about responding to posts when people have left them, so I apologize for that -I will be better about that in future. I hope you all will continue to read and enjoy (as I will continue to post on this blog throughout my cantorial school adventures in New York -or the Old Country as I like to call it).

I try not to get overly political in my posts, because my objective for this blog is not political ranting or lambasting, nor do I want to come off as extreme. I've struggled in writing this post for a long time, but I find the reaction to recent events in Israel and the Middle East so troubling that I can no longer stay silent. Our American media is unfortunately (and unfairly in my opinion) biased, verging on a perspective that can come off as anti-Israel at times. Politics are sticky and complicated, especially where the Middle East is concerned, but after living there for a year, traveling to the West Bank and really struggling directly with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and what that means for me as an invested, observant Jew, I can tell you that Hamas does not have the common good of the Palestinians at heart. True, they are the Palestinian authority, but they don't care about providing their citizens with basic, fundamental needs such as clean water, health care, adequate housing and access to education. What's more (from a Jewish perspective at least), is that too often Hamas takes advantage of our media's bias and focuses its energy on provoking Israel into defending herself, knowing that the only part of the story that will reach American ears is what Israel does in retaliation. By provoking Israel thus, Hamas has been able to ensure that the Palestinians are portrayed as the helpless victims of Israeli brutality.

With this in mind, I beg you all to realize that there is always more to the story than what our media presents to us. There seems to be a lot of anti-Israel sentiment in the air right now -what with protests against Israel in London and France and even here in the United States that seem to grow more frequent by the day. It is true that many Palestinians have suffered in light of recent events, and to call it tragic doesn't even begin to cover the injustice, but I am suggesting that Israel is not the Big-Bully-of-the-Middle-East that our media loves to portray her as. If Hamas really cared about the Palestinians and building them the homeland they deserve, if they really wanted peace in the Middle East, they wouldn't be trying to wipe Israel off the map. I am not trying to suggest that Israel is perfect and the answer to all the problems in the region, but it angers me when Israel is held to a double standard. By the modern definition, a people is not considered a nation until or unless they possess a country. Defending the borders of a country comes along with the territory -if you'll forgive the pun. Thus, if we recognize a sovereign nation's right to defend her borders, why is it any different when Israel defends herself as opposed to the United States, Great Britain, France, or any other country in the world? We, the Jewish People, have a right to defend ourselves against those that wish us harm without being labeled as murderers, hypocrites or worse. Hamas' use of the Palestinians as a political pawn has nothing to do with Israel or her right to defend her borders -plain and simple. Along those lines, I must emphasize here that it was Hamas that rejected the initial ceasefire proposal, after which subsequent talks have failed again and again. Media reports of Israel launching attacks on Gaza after ceasefire agreements are out-and-out lies. Also, people seem to forget the events that started this most recent cycle in the Conflict. I am, of course, referring to the capture and murder of the three Israeli boys, Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali. Our media, as I've been saying, has not helped this situation either, and thus continues another cycle of terror, destruction, and bitterness.

While I could go on, I won't belabor the point, because blame-laying is counter productive despite its infinite allure. I do, however, see it as my obligation as a Jew to defend and support Israel. I don't mean blind-faith support no matter what Israel does (as I said, she isn't perfect) -that, too, is counter productive. But I do wish people to know that the truth is never simple, and this couldn't be more true in the case of Israel. Sometimes I feel like a broken record I say that so much; I guess it's hard to fathom if you haven't spent time there. Not to be trite in an effort to put a positive spin on a post such as this, but I feel the only thing I can say to end this entry is that I urge the global community to wake up and realize that the problem does not necessarily lie with Israel. If we spent our time and energy in supporting the Palestinians to stand up to Hamas instead of trying to paint Israel unequivocally as the enemy, how different things would be. Jew and Palestinian alike deserve a place to call home in the Middle East, but it will never happen as long as organizations like Hamas are in power.

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