One of the positive things emerging from the tragic hurricane has been the solidarity of Israelis with the many New Yorkers who have lost their homes, or who are still dealing with physical and emotional desolation. Israeli groups such as IsraAID (the Israeli Forum For International Humanitarian Aid) and the alumni from the Ein Prat – Israel Leadership Academy, have come to us as volunteers, doing remarkable work in Breezy Point, Sea Gate and Far Rockaway, among other stricken areas, in conjunction with local agencies.
We, as a community, usually think of the Israel-diaspora relationship as one in which we do most of the caring and giving. But with the Israeli volunteers exhibiting such caring for our troubles, it may be fair to ask if in the past few months we’ve been as caring about Israeli troubles as we could and should have been.
It’s true that most of the 1,000 rockets from Gaza during that time landed without harm. And it was only last week when Israel itself has acted as if these rockets were a casus belli.
Nevertheless, even rockets that landed harmlessly provoked terror in Israeli towns when the sirens forced children, adults and the elderly to race for shelters.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been living for years with a fear of the skies while their trauma became routine for the rest of us. No wonder that there are those who think Israel is the aggressor in this war; we’ve allowed the real aggression to have the cover of our disinterest.
Not only have the ongoing rockets eluded the attention of journalists but even of activists. How many rallies, sermons or grassroots lobbying have there been on behalf of those terrified and suffering? Our campuses have seen an almost constant stream of speeches and debates about the settlements and West Bank boycotts, with comparatively nothing about the rocket attacks, as if it was Israel’s political choices alone that were inflaming the region.
Less discussed is the fact that Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005, setting the stage for the rocket attacks in the first place.
Whether the cease-fire comes sooner or later, what we can do here in the United States is resolve to pay closer attention to this issue and not allow the matter of the rockets to fade away when this war does.
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