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April 2 - 23 Adar ii 5784

04/01/2024 02:07:36 PM


Waiting for further news on the hernia surgery set for late Sunday for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu—while wishing him a r’fu-ah sh’leimah—that personal necessity was moved to the sidelines by mass demonstrations calling for his ouster from leadership of government that included families of hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza. Masses of Israelis protesting between the symbolic national Menorah and the classically proportioned façade of the Knesset Building, with active fighting in Gaza ongoing, hardly has a precedent in Israel’s history. The crisis there is real, multi-faceted, and much closer to Jews everywhere in the world than the stability of the current coalition.

Earlier this week, a podcast of the Abraham Hartman Institute, which has encouraged connections to the State of Israel and Jewish traditional texts over several decades and occupies an intellectual space that is both politically progressive and religiously cosmopolitan, raised just this issue of the limitation of the current coalition and the remarkable consistency of Bibi as a mind changing, shape-shifting politician. It seems that the present dilemma in Israeli-US relations could be the boundary that will define future Israeli governments without Bibi.

The locus for the current fissure came at the UN Security Council. That small body is a relic of Cold War era competition for world dominance among US, USSR (Russia) and China, plus the United Kingdom and France—each has a veto—and the revolving, term-limited membership that currently includes  Algeria (2025), Ecuador (2024), Guyana (2025), Japan (2024), Malta (2024), Mozambique (2024), Republic of Korea (2025), Sierra Leone (2025), Slovenia (2025) and Switzerland (2024). You might recall that recent weeks saw successive resolutions for a ceasefire blocked by a US veto; the final vote saw that veto changed to an abstention.

A ceasefire is now required by the UN for the waning days of Ramadan—and, the reason for the changed US vote—in response to the release of all remaining hostages taken last October 7.

To date, no actual ceasefire has come into effect. No hostage has been returned in recent weeks. Some increase in aid supplies to Gaza has occurred, with Israeli assent. Hamas, however, is neither a UN constituent nor present in moving beyond the impasse that sees growing numbers of civilian Gazan casualties and open fighting continues in Rafah, near the Egyptian border.

It is not easy to get beyond the ‘look’ of Israel Defense Forces in combat armor battling their way through the streets and alleys, hospitals and corridors of the southernmost urban settlement in the Gaza Strip. Condemnation of the incursion—still heralded by Israel as part of its legitimate response to the attack on its sovereign territory last Simchat Torah. For what now seems but the blink of an eye, many nations stood by Israel. As 180 days approach (Wednesday, April 3), with Hamas pushed into its hidey holes under Rafah while much of the built environment of Gaza lies as rubble and in ruins, Israel faces a return of the typical array of defenders of the ‘poor, innocent Palestinians’ and increasingly virulent calls for the establishment of a Palestinian entity. 

The battle zone is shifting from the gruesome reality of 1200 Israelis on October 7 to 1.1 million Gazans flashing before billions of eyes on social media platforms. The emotional impact transcends the truth/fiction or moral burden of reality into the realm of manipulation of public opinion and re-enlivenment of implicit bias against the use of force but clearly for antisemitism. That is the current nexus of Jewish experience, as Israel loses the moral high ground without ceding an iota of the right to self-defense. The defeat of Hamas—backed by Iran, funded by dark channels of the Arab world that hates the idea of a Jewish State—shifts from a rational military response to an immoral pursuit of a war without justification and charges of genocide.

And it all leads back to Bibi, to the Israeli coalition government, to the inefficiency of democracy and (IMHO) the corruption that is as common as desert sand in the ruling cadres of Palestine. The issue thus pivots to what we—as a Jewish community—can control. (It might even make us sad—for a brief moment—that the Big Lie of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ are wrong). 

No surprise, then, that frustrated, angry Israelis march in protest, nor that generally committed Zionists and long-term supporters of Israel say: enough. Yet none of us can morally say, ok Hamas. The dilemma is real, and ultimate responsibility lies with them for their un-Islamic, nihilistic abuse of power since 2005, on October 7 each day they invite military action against their very constituents whom they use as living shields to perpetrate terror.

Whither? That is where PM Netanyahu reenters the picture, along with the War Cabinet and governing coalition. They share the responsibility of steering the Israeli ship of state.

I pray they give peace a chance.

Thu, July 18 2024 12 Tammuz 5784