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Rabbi Levi Brackman  

 

Israelis can joke but for us it's serious

Those of us living outside war-zone have moral obligation to defend Israel against voices saying it is using disproportionate force

Published: 11.19.12, 07:43 / Israel Jewish Scene

Israel is yet again being threatened and is on the brink of war. Tragically there has already been substantial loss of life, including the murder of an innocent woman seven months pregnant. Israeli tanks and troops are amassing on the border with Gaza and it seems like a full-scale invasion of the coastal strip is inevitable.

 

It’s a repeat of the war that took place in the winter of 2008. This time, however, I have a slightly different perspective. Although I used to live in Israel and visit there annually and am very keenly tuned into what is going on there, I am not actually there. I live in the comfort of the United States, where my life is not threatened by a rocket shot randomly and indiscriminately into areas populated by innocent civilians.

 

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There was a time when we thought that this was something that only Palestinian terrorists do. Responsible governments would never specifically target civilians. The Arab Spring has taught us otherwise. This is the modus operandi of Arab governments throughout the region. They have no respect for human life – even for their own fellow citizens. Now the Hamas government in Gaza is visiting the same terror that has reigned on millions of Syrians for the past year, upon innocent citizens of Israel.

 

In many ways the Arab Spring has put the conflict with the Palestinians in sharp focus. People whose ethos centers around the concept that might-makes-right cannot be squared with those whose principle ideas are based on respect for human rights, dignity and life. How can there be a basis for peace if fundamental human values are not shared?

 

In order to understand this conflict it is vital to understand this dynamic. It is a mistake to assume that all people share our values. In some regions of the world honor is more important than human life. This is why honor killings are so common in the Middle East and in some parts of Asia. For many in the Middle East, gaining or maintaining power, honor or prestige trumps the value of human life.

 

It is exactly this attitude and mindset that the Torah came to combat. This is why Judeo-Christian values are so different from many others around the world. Israel is thus, fighting against a savage enemy that is terrorizing a huge swath of its population with its total and utter disregard for human life.

 

Technology has also changed since 2008. Now I am on a WhatsApp list with family members living in Israel, including some who are reservists in the Israeli army. I therefore have instant feedback and reaction from Israel direct to my Samsung Galaxy S III. Their fear is palpable. The terrorism is real.

 

But, despite the terror, Israelis never lose their sense of humor. My brother-in-law joked that there was a report of a rocket on its way to Tel Aviv, but it got stuck in traffic on the Ayalon Freeway – Israel’s most heavily congested highway.

 

With neighbors like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, one either falls into deep depression and victimhood or one moves forward with a sense of humor. Israelis always choose the latter – it helps them cope.

 

But those of us living outside the war zone have a serious obligation. In the days ahead, Israel will come under increased pressure not only from enemies but also from “allies,” saying that Israel is using disproportionate force (Russia’s Putin has already said this) or that Israel is the aggressor, etc.

 

My fellow blogger on Hark, John F. Kane, has already suggested as much in a previous post. For him those that love life are put on equal footing to those that celebrate death.

 

I believe that we have a moral obligation to defend Israel against those voices as it fights the good fight to defend our shared values of human life, dignity, rights and freedom. Defending Israel in her time of need takes moral courage – but as Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

 

Terror and tyranny are evil and Israel is fighting against that evil and I will defend her as she does so. As evil rears its head around me, as it inevitably will, I won’t be doing “nothing.”

 

Rabbi Levi Brackman is co-founder and executive director of Youth Directions , a non-profit organization that helps youth find and succeed at their unique positive purpose in life

 

 

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