Israel Under FireIt is with a heavy heart that I write to you. I want peace, I pray for peace. But I am a committed Zionist who believes in the enterprise of a Jewish State, a state entitled to defend its citizens. Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren has recently said how he was on the battlefield and served as the representative of Israel in front of a TV camera. Today, those lines have become increasingly blurred. I cannot understand how news “reporters” are so one-sided. It truly baffles me. I have no problem asking critical questions. I encourage probing questions. I want to be sure that the Israel Defense Force continues to embrace its mission of defending Israel more than punishing Palestinians. I also give credit to Israel’s government and its rule of law when individuals cross that line, they are held accountable. So why is it that Israel is blamed for an entire conflict? When did others forget that Israel is an underdog? I hope and pray for a speedy end to the bloodshed. I join thousands who say that blood is blood and revenge has no place in our Jewish communities. Where it shines its head, it needs to be brought to justice for desecrating our Tradition, our Truths, our God and the Land itself. There are many of us who are having trouble getting past the heartbreak of the murder of the three Israeli boys, the murdered Palestinian boy, the acts of vengeance and the celebrations over the death of the Other. I am concerned for the welfare of the Palestinians. Many are falling victim due to no fault of their own. Nevertheless, I blame Hamas. How dare they use their own people as human shields! It is astounding to me how the IDF releases a video that shows them firing a warning shot at a building in Gaza to encourage innocent civiliants to leave. When civilians went on top of the roof, the IDF aborted the mission. Hamas, used the same footage to encourage its people to go on top of the buildings to stop future attacks from Israel. Hamas has launched over 550 rockets into civilian areas in Israel, which has been met by Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which has countered with over 500 air strikes in Gaza. But before this Operation started, there were more than 220 rockets that struck Israel. Hamas has boasted that it can now strike any city in Israel. (To see the range of rockets compared to Atlanta — or any other city — click here.) The situation looks like it will only get worse in the coming weeks. While it makes me sad that things have come to this, I believe that Israel has the right to defend itself and deter its enemy, Hamas, from continuing to send rockets into civilian centers in Israel. In the meantime, I will advocate on Israel’s behalf, I will educate those who will not look at nuance, I will cry when innocents become casualties — regardless of whether they are Jews or Palestinians,  and I will always pray for peace in the Land of Israel, for its inhabitants and its neighbors. Here are a few resources that I encourage you to explore so you can be a voice of support to the People and the State of Israel: The IDF Blog Israel Under Fire Ambassador Michael Oren’s Facebook Page Jewish Federation of North America’s Operation Protective Edge Resource Page — this has other links to Israeli news media in English among other external, reliable resources Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Blog An important piece on nuance when Israelis went to extend their condolences to the family of the Palestinian boy killed in an act of vengeance. Listen to the NPR story here.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg on a proportional response   “Where is the outrage over the bombardment of civilians in Israel” Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @rabbigreene where I am sharing lots of resources   From our prayerbook, Mishkan T’filah (p. 377):

O Heavenly One, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel which marks the dawning of hope for all who seek peace. Shield it beneath the wings of Your love; spread over it the canopy of Your peace, send Your light and truth to all who lead and advise, guiding them with Your good counsel. Establish peace in the land and fullness of joy for all who dwell there. Amen.