By Harry Weller
In the midst of these stressful times for those who love Israel, people wonder, “What can I do?” As one who is often frustrated by being so far away when Israel is under fire, I decided to compile my personal ten commandments for supporting Israel:
• Never apologize for Israel’s right to defend itself aggressively from Hamas or any other sworn enemy. Israel is engaged in an existential struggle, not one of convenience or annoyance. Jews know that when an enemy threatens to kill us all, they mean it.
• If you have a trip to Israel scheduled….GO TO ISRAEL! If you can squeeze in a trip to Israel…GO TO ISRAEL! One way a civilian can fight terrorists is not to be intimidated. When we blink, they win. Israel will tell us when it is not safe to come. And spend money when you’re there.
• Both donate to Israeli charities and find ways to maximize such support. Especially during the present crisis, support organizations providing aid to the IDF and those most traumatized by terror. For example, I’m skydiving to celebrate an upcoming birthday and asking for donations to the OneFamilyFund. Support has been gratifying. Maybe you have a project or event that could be attached to a fundraiser. Do it!
• Remember that firing rockets from a civilian area is a war crime, as is firing purposefully into a civilian area. Retaliating to that fire is not. Don’t be cowed by references to “disproportionate” casualties as that term is misused daily. Israel does more to protect Gazan civilians than any other nation in the history of warfare. It continues to supply water and electricity to Gaza, even risking its own workers to repair a power line severed by Hamas rockets. Hamas, and only Hamas, is responsible for the deaths of innocents and they openly brag about it. That Israel defends its civilians extraordinarily and fights barbarians humanely is to its eternal credit and not the reverse. But fight it must. See Commandment #1.
• Do not be swayed by those who say Hamas, which governs Gaza, fires rockets because of Israel’s occupation. Israel completely and unilaterally left Gaza in 2005.
• Remember that Israel did not transform Gaza into a barbarous open-air prison with a ruthless blockade. Hamas did. When Israel left Gaza in 2005, there was no blockade. It left behind buildings and a thriving horticulture industry. Israel was willing to help Gazans operate this industry. Instead, Gazans obliterated everything, solely because it was Jewish. They then elected Hamas, which in turn imported rockets and built terror tunnels rather than improve the plight of the citizenry. Notably, Egypt also blockades Gaza because it recognizes that Hamas is a dangerous, destabilizing enemy.
• Remember that the latest United Nations’ pronouncements against Israel are today’s anti-Semitism. The U.N. can’t keep rockets out of their schools in Gaza, or prevent Hamas from attacking from those schools or hospitals. When they find rockets, they say “shame on you” and return them to Hamas. At the same time, the U.N. is silent while more than 150,000 are slaughtered in Syria and Christians are slaughtered in Darfur, and during events in Mosul where Jihadists told Christians to leave, convert or die.
• Object forcefully when anyone accuses Israel of engaging in “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing.” Remember, in Israel, Jews, Muslims and Christian citizens worship freely; serve in the Knesset and even on the Israeli Supreme Court. The non-citizen Palestinian population has grown exponentially, and their life span increased under Israeli sovereignty as well. The only proposals for ethnic cleansing come from Israel’s enemies who, even in their negotiations, demand territory that is Judenrein (free of Jews). See also, Commandment #7.
• Challenge anyone who accuses Israel of refusing to negotiate with its enemies “in good faith.” Hamas has rejected or violated every ceasefire proposed. Likewise, at least three times Arafat was offered the entire West Bank and Gaza, with some slight territorial adjustments (“settlers” occupy three percent of the former) and East Jerusalem as a capital. Each time he said “NO!” Arafat made no counterproposal and, the last time, left negotiations and started the second Intifada.
• Welcome discussions with fellow Americans about the Middle East conflict and include in the discussion everything relevant from commandments #1 and 6 through 9. Always remind your countrymen that while Israel defends itself, Israeli’s don’t hate their Arab neighbors or teach hate in our schools. Rallies for Israel don’t include placards declaring “Death to all Muslims.” Rather, Jews worldwide, especially in Israel, pray for peace three times a day.
Harry Weller has served as an appellate prosecutor in the Chief State’s Attorneys Office since 1985. A resident of West Hartford, he is active at Beth David Synagogue and the Bess & Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy. Weller and his wife, Robyn Etelis Weller, are the parents of two daughters, one living in West Hartford and the other living with her husband and son in Jerusalem.