Israel has faced an unceasing threat from rockets emanating out of Gaza ever since they pulled out of the territory back in 2005. And instead of using Israel's disengagement to build trust and work towards peace, Hamas has turned Gaza into a forward base to relentlessly attack Israel with its increasingly deadly rocket arsenal.
So finally, after months of incredible restraint, Israel launched “Operation Pillar of Defense” on Wednesday, and in a targeted assassination eliminated Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari (who was responsible for many attacks, including the abduction of Gilad Shalit). The latest barrage of rocket attacks left Israel with no choice but to respond and to do what every government is charged with, namely, protecting her citizens from harm.
Predictably, Israel is not only having to defend itself from the rocket barrages aimed at her civilian population, but also from the ongoing PR attacks attempting to delegitimize Israel in the public arena and to erode US support.
Therefore it is very important that we mobilize as a community and not remain silent.
There are several concrete steps we can all take to support Israel during this trying time which I urge you to consider:
1) Stand up publicly and state you support for Israel's defensive efforts in light of sustained rocket attacks that are terrorizing 1/7th of the Israeli population.
2) Contact your Senators and Congressmen. Senators can be reached by phone through the Capitol switchboard at : (202) 224-3121. You can also use the following link: http://www.capwiz.com/aipac/issues/alert/?alertid=62157761
3) Write Op Ed letters to newspapers
4) Actively support Israel on social media like Facebook and Twitter. (On Twitter use the hash tag #israelunderfire )
Here are some main messages to help you be a more effective Israel advocate:
• The goal of Israel’s operation is clearly defined and is aimed at removing a strategic threat to Israeli citizens. Israel is not interested in a deterioration of the situation.
• Israel has demonstrated great restrain for a long period but cannot stand for the recurring attacks on its citizens. No other state would accept a similar reality.
• Israel is acting in self-defense and out of its duty to protect its civilians from terrorist attacks.
• Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and is responsible for all that occurs in Gaza and all that is launched from there.
• It must be noted again that Israel disengaged completely from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The result of Israel’s disengagement is that Gaza has become a giant ammunition dump. In addition, it provides a breeding ground for terrorist groups to organize and to operate, including groups associated with al-Qaeda and Global Jihad. All this under the rule, responsibility and sponsorship of Hamas.
• Weapons smuggled from Libya, Iran and Sudan accelerated the process of Gaza turning into a terror base. These weapons also increased the danger posed to the Israeli population.
• Hamas and the other terrorist organizations hide among the civilian population of Gaza. They also deliberately direct their fire at the civilian population of Israel. These acts constitute a double war crime.
• The targets of the Israeli operation are all military. Israel will make every effort to prevent harm to the civilian population of Gaza, and regrets any injury to civilians.
• The border crossings from Israel to the Gaza Strip remain open, allowing for the routine passage of goods and humanitarian aid.
• The international community must act to stop the attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip and should not wait for an Israeli reaction to act. Time and again, Israel has warned that it would not tolerate these attacks.
Together let us all make our voices heard in support of Israel at this difficult time.
Rabbi Mark Zimmerman