Reading from the Book of Lamentations on Tisha b’Av, Monday night, we were confronted with vivid and painful descriptions of the ravages of war and devastation. “Behold and see if there is any pain like my pain, which has been dealt out to me,” writes the Prophet Jeremiah. He is describing the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem centuries ago, but the words and emotions are as timely as today’s headlines. “My children are desolate for the enemy has prevailed.”
Amid media frenzy and global outrage, Israel just needs more time. Will the world let Israel win?
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U.S. and Israeli officials have been working hard in recent days to ease the deeply bruised feelings on both sides after Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposed cease-fire conditions appeared more sympathetic to the cause of Hamas, a declared terrorist organization, than to Israel, America’s greatest ally.
Amid all of the fear, frustration and anger over Israel’s need to defend itself once again from Hamas, the terror group committed to the destruction of Israel and Jews, it is important to remember that Jewish tradition teaches not only the imperative of defending one’s own but also to not lose our compassion for innocents who suffer.
A friend in Israel bemoaned the fact this week that the world loses its moral bearings when it comes to Israel. Tragically, examples abound. One wonders whether it will make any difference to critics of the Jewish state that Hamas refused to abide by the proposed cease-fire that Israel had accepted on Tuesday. No doubt the media focus will continue to be on the damage inflicted by Israel, as it seeks to eradicate the rocket launchers and munitions factories in Gaza, rather than on the fact that Israeli citizens have been under ongoing attack for years — a situation no country would tolerate.
The deeply upsetting news from Israel this week that several Jewish extremists are being held in connection with the murder of a Palestinian teenager should not be as shocking as it has been for many, particularly in this country.
By a 310-303 vote last week, a prominent American Protestant denomination made history. The Presbyterian Church, with about 1.8 million members, became the first major Christian group in this country to approve a resolution in favor of economic divestment from American businesses that make equipment that helps foster Israel’s occupation in the West Bank.
While an anxious Israeli society awaited word on the fate of three kidnapped teenagers this week, the government in Jerusalem talked tough but was constrained by the realities of the situation. And the terror group Hamas appears protected by a thin, artificial veneer of diplomatic respectability.
The office of the president of the State of Israel is largely symbolic, intended to unify the country and bring it enhanced stature. But from the outset the definition of the role, to “stand at the head of the state,” has been vague, leading critics to call for its abolishment on the grounds that it is unnecessary and costly.
The Israeli government is understandably upset with Washington’s decision to deal with the newly announced unity government formed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The anger and frustration is based on Jerusalem’s leaders being taken by surprise by the move and because the U.S. could have and should have based its acceptance on Hamas reforming itself.