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Sermon: Parshat Nasso, 5/21/21

05/25/2021 11:25:51 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

This wasn’t the sermon I was planning on giving tonight, but sometimes the world doesn’t work to our advantage. In the Israel update I offered this past week, I tried to show the complexity of the situation in Israel. Something that is not complex, something that is simple and straightforward and crystal clear is that Antisemitism is wrong. The situation in Israel or any world event is no excuse for Antisemitism.

According to reports, Hamas fired over forty three hundred rockets and mortar shells indiscriminately at Israel during the past week and a half of war. They didn’t care who or what they hit – military, civilian – it didn’t matter. Just over 75% crossed the border into Israel, which means that almost a quarter fell somewhere within Gaza. Iron Dome stopped about 90% of those that would have hit in populated areas and most were terrorized, but stayed safe in bomb shelters. Even so 12 people in Israel lost their lives and hundreds were injured. Without the Iron Dome and bomb shelters, I’m scared to think how many would have died.

I wasn’t able to find out how many bombs were dropped on Gaza, but reports indicated that in one instance Israel dropped over one hundred and twenty bombs in about 25 minutes and in another instance, Israel struck 150 targets with 450 bombs in about a 35 minute period. A safe estimate is that thousands of bombs were dropped on Gaza during the eleven days of fighting.

Gaza is a heavily populated area. Hamas located rocket launchers and other infrastructure in civilian areas. There was no Iron Dome or bomb shelters. I’ve seen different numbers about how many people died in Gaza – two hundred forty three from the World Health Organization or three hundred and twenty from the Hamas run Health Ministry, with one hundred and twenty to one hundred and sixty estimated by the IDF to be combatants. That means that well over one hundred Palestinian civilians were killed and thousands and thousands of people were injured. I don’t know how many of those deaths or injuries were caused by Hamas rockets.

Loss of innocent life is tragic. Period. And the Palestinians have had more than their share. When I look at those numbers and understand the situation on the ground, I am amazed that Israel was able to drop so many bombs with such little loss of life. The regard for civilian life while trying to stop constant rocket attacks is truly remarkable. If Israel really didn’t care who they bombed – if Israel was as evil as so many want to believe – if any other country was dealing with such a situation – it would look much different.

Israel tried twice to let humanitarian aid into Gaza in the midst of fighting, but Hamas fired mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom crossing both times, preventing the aid from reaching the people who needed it. It was horrible!

And still, all evidence to the contrary, multiple leaders and celebrities around the world claimed that Israel was guilty of ethnic cleansing and genocide! Israel is not perfect, but going out of one’s way to preserve life in the midst of a terrible war is neither ethnic cleansing or genocide!

The attacks weren’t just against Israel. The ADL reported it found more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase, “Hitler was right” between May 7 and May 14, 2021. Jews were openly and blatantly attacked by mobs of anti-Israel protesters in LA and in New York this past week. Many protests in the United States and around the world were filled with Antisemitic speeches and signs. It’s a shanda! It’s terrible! It has nothing to do with Israeli policy – it’s Antisemitism and it’s wrong!

It’s a complete contrast to the conversation I had this morning with the Imam in Colleyville where we were both expressing concern for each of our communities. It’s a contrast to the joint rallies that were held this past week between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs or Israeli Jews and Palestinians calling for peaceful coexistence.

This week’s Torah portion includes the Priestly Benediction. In the face of such Antisemitism, I ask for God’s blessing on our community.

יְבָרֶכְךָ ה' וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ.

יָאֵר ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶֽיךָ וִיחֻנֶּֽךָּ.

יִשָּׂא ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶֽיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם.

May Adonai bless you and protect you – online and in person – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. May Adonai look kindly upon you and have compassion on you – and may all the world bring compassion for all of humanity during this difficult time. May Adonai bestow favor upon you and give you peace – may we have peace in our lives, peace within Israel, peace for Israel’s neighbors, peaceful coexistance – God, please bring us peace.

Shabbat Shalom.

Sun, July 3 2022 4 Tammuz 5782