October 18, 2023
I’ve often wondered what I would have done if I lived through Nazi Germany. The stories of righteous Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews by hiding them, feeding them or helping them escape are such inspirational examples of human decency and bravery. I always hoped I would have the courage to do the same if I lived through something similar. These were regular people who had a moral compass so unshakeable that they couldn’t live without doing the right thing. Because of that, they became extraordinary.
I hope I can convey the many reasons why Israel also is extraordinary. Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people. Judaism originated 5784 years ago, over 2000 years before the birth of Islam. Jews always lived in Israel, even after the majority was forced into exile.
During years of dispersion, Jewish people never forgot their bond with the land and always prayed to return. Jerusalem is mentioned approximately 660 times in the Torah. Jews pray facing Jerusalem, remember it at every wedding (breaking the glass under the chuppah is in memory of the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) and all throughout the year. By contrast, Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran and Muslims pray facing their holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is built on top of Judaism’s holiest site, the remains of the Holy Temple.
After six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in Europe, the UN voted for a plan to divide the land of Israel into a Jewish state and an Arab state living side by side. Jewish leaders said yes. Arab leaders said no, and immediately launched a war to destroy the Jewish state.
On May 14, 1948, when Israel declared its independence, five Arab armies invaded, confident they would destroy the Jews once and for all. Israel, despite all odds, without a real army and made up mostly of a ragtag team of Holocaust survivors, won. They’ve been hoping for peace with their Arab neighbors ever since.
Israel has offered multiple peace deals to bring about an independent Palestinian state, ALL of which were rejected by Palestinian leaders. Israel has taken every possible step to bring peace diplomatically, but Hamas is not interested in a Palestinian state alongside Israel. They’re interested in a Palestinian state INSTEAD of Israel. As stated in their charter, their mission is to kill every Jew.
Almost two weeks ago, on October 7, Hamas terrorists invaded Israel by land, sea and air, diverting attention by shooting thousands of rockets into the country as a distraction.
Hamas terrorists murdered more than 1,400 people, the largest tragedy to the Jewish people since the Holocaust. They took 200 children, women, elderly, disabled and even Holocaust survivors as hostages. They shot babies in their cribs. They beheaded babies. They raped teenage girls. They cut a baby out of a pregnant woman’s belly. They lit entire families on fire, while they were alive. And others after they killed them. They broke into homes, stealing at whim. They burned down homes. They slaughtered nearly 300 young people at a concert for peace. While there, they shot through a line of closed porta-potties, ensuring death to anyone inside. They recorded themselves killing children with the child’s phone, texting the video to parents so they had to watch their child being murdered. They shot dogs for fun.
It’s impossible to comprehend this evil and depravity.
I’m sorry to say this, because Palestinian people are suffering under the rule of Hamas, but there were also Palestinians celebrating these acts. As Hamas drove through the streets of Gaza, dragging their hostages like trophies, girls with blood on the crotches of their pants after being raped and 85-year-old grandmothers, Gazans cheered and passed out candy.
I know there are moderate, decent Palestinians who are horrified by these acts, but are afraid to speak up. I truly sympathize with them. They are suffering indescribably under the rule of Hamas and have been used as pawns for the past 70 years.
You will hear that Israel brought this massacre on themselves. Do we live in a world where such brutality can ever be justified? People will say that Israel is an occupier. That they are living on Palestinian lands. Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2005, removing 9,000 Israelis from their homes in the hopes that by doing so, they would finally have peace. How did Palestinians respond? They began shooting rockets into Israel, and in nearly 20 years haven’t stopped.
There is truth to the fact that some Palestinians were displaced from Israel where they had lived for centuries, although most Palestinians are actually from Jordan, not Israel. What you probably didn’t know is that approximately one million Jews who lived in Arab countries were expelled and forced to flee their homes following the establishment of the State of Israel. They had to leave all their possessions behind, despite living in these countries for 2,000 years.
The world doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. In fact, these Jewish refugees were largely forgotten because they assimilated into their new homes, and neither the United Nations nor any other international agency took up their cause or demanded restitution for the property and money stolen from them.
Why is it that no other Arab state has granted the Palestinian people citizenship? Do you ever hear the news questioning why Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Sudan, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, or UAE, for example, have never taken the Palestinians in? They speak the same language and share the same traditions.
But Israel, smaller than the size of New Jersey, the only democracy in the Middle East and the only Jewish state in the world, is expected to absorb all the Palestinians into their country? Israel is 1/800 the size of the Arab world and 9 miles wide at its narrowest point. In contrast, there are 22 Arab countries!
Nearly half a million Palestinians cross the border into Israel every day to work. The irony is that Israel has been the only country offering Palestinians a source of income, stability and hope for the last 70 years. Neighboring Arab countries who claim to support Palestinian rights ban Palestinians from all kinds of jobs in their own countries.
You may hear that Israel is an apartheid state. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. About two million of Israel’s citizens are Arab, making up 20% of the population. Israeli Arab citizens have served in the Knesset, Israel’s government, since the first elections in 1949, and have roles in all aspects of Israeli society, everything from journalists and professors to doctors. Every citizen of Israel is equal under the law. Israel is also one of most inclusive societies in the world for LGBTQ+ rights.
The international community has given Palestinian leaders billions of dollars in aid, and with that, Gaza, along the Mediterranean Sea, could have become a resort town. The money, intended for infrastructure, was used instead by Hamas to build terror tunnels into Israel and acquire weapons to kill Jews.
Hamas leaders also stole millions to build lavish villas for themselves in Qatar, where they live, by the way—not in Gaza with the people they claim to care about. Keeping the Palestinian people hostage is their business. And it’s been very successful for them. The world keeps blaming Israel and sending more money, which never gets to the public. Why would Hamas want it to end?
Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields, hiding weapons and missiles in hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes. When Israel must defend itself by striking these locations, Hamas hopes they kill civilians because it helps their propaganda enormously to say Israel bombed a hospital or killed a baby.
And please understand, before Israel targets any location where they know missiles and weapons are stored, the IDF sends notes from their planes and texts to cell phones in Arabic as a warning to civilians to get out. Hamas, on the other hand, doesn’t allow civilians to leave, because dead Palestinians improves their publicity war.
And it can’t be stated too clearly: Israel does not rejoice in the death of innocent Palestinians. The IDF does everything in its power to lessen civilian casualties, oftentimes ending a mission because the death toll will be too great. Israel values life. Hamas glorifies death.
There is another factor that few are talking about—the amount of intimidation caused by the pro-Palestinian movement. If you’ve seen any demonstrations on the news, there have been multiple anti-Israel rallies where masked protesters call for death to the Jews as they burn Israeli flags and chant for Hamas.
In the 1930s, one can imagine that not all Germans agreed with the Nazis. But violent protests, aggressive propaganda and scapegoating of Jews put fear in ordinary Germans—that they either join the Nazi party or have their livelihood and safety jeopardized. Today in major cities around the world and on college campuses across the United States, we see the same violent, hateful protests that scapegoat Jews and excuse the atrocities committed by Hamas.
Much like the German citizens in the 1930s, there is an implicit message to all the people on the sidelines. Join us, the Hamas sympathizers, or you will get treated like the Jews. Their rallies are intended to inspire fear and it’s easy to see the transparent motives of these protests. There is also constant bullying on social media and false accusations that Israel is committing genocide. The protesters accuse IDF soldiers of murdering babies and raping Palestinian women when it is simply not true, never was true, and their volume is loudest after Hamas commits those exact atrocities. It is the same technique the Nazis used to great success.
Israelis are dealing with unimaginable horrors. Israel is a small country; everyone knows someone murdered or kidnapped. There are daily funerals. There are unrelenting rocket attacks. People are living in bomb shelters. Hostages, including children, babies and grandmothers, have not been released. Can you imagine the anguish parents must feel while their child is being held hostage by Hamas terrorists? I can’t. And yet, even now, with all of this, Israelis constantly must defend themselves in the media war of lies against them. The strength, resolve and humanity of the Israeli people is remarkable.
Jews make up only .2% of the world population (that decimal point is not a typo). A small minority, but we have contributed much. It is no more evident in the actions and behavior of Israelis since this massacre began.
As over 300,000 IDF reservists are pulled from their lives and families to defend their nation, Israeli mothers cook meals for the troops, even if their own sons or daughters are not the ones serving. Restaurants deliver food for free to army bases. Women donate breast milk for babies whose mothers have been murdered or taken hostage. Families who live in safer areas make room in their homes for families who don’t. Reservists fly in from abroad. American Jews raise money for military supplies and medical equipment. The level of unity and integrity in these dark days is what sets Jews, and Israelis specifically, apart from those who try to destroy them.
And let me be clear. Israel does not just do for its own. In any humanitarian crisis around the world, Israel is one of the first countries to send help, doctors and volunteers.
There is a lot of misinformation out there. As I write, Israel is being accused of bombing a hospital in Gaza, despite intelligence reports that confirm it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad who perpetrated this war crime. I urge you to learn the truth. Israel is not perfect; no country is. But I know Israel stands for life and strives for peaceful co-existence with its neighbors. It is my deepest conviction that standing up for Israel is the moral imperative of our time. We must all take a stand. I stand for Israel. I hope you do, too.