Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Responding to the "Gaza Flotilla" Situation

I thought long and hard about the word to follow the quotes in the title. I also wanted to wait and see what we would learn over time, before rushing in to respond in a difficult moment.

But then, a college student who received a significant amount of his Jewish education in our religious school posted the following status on his facebook page (in keeping with editorial policy of this blog, the names are removed to protect user privacy):

Dear Israel, I usually stand by your decisions but I have to say I think you may have jumped the gun on this one here. Just don't give hezzballah a reason to shoot up Haifa again. L'shalom me

To which I felt compelled to respond as follows:

...check your facts before jumping to conclusions -- take a look at the Ha'aretz article on my page in particular... it appears that, as usual, there are a lot of layers to peel away on this one to get to the truth. It is starting to look very much like many other recent decisions -- more blame is due to the inciters than to Israel (as usual), world ignores the depths of the incitement (as usual), Israel offers peaceful alternatives, which are refused/ignored (as usual), so Israel attacks and draws bad press (as usual). It remains to be seen a)whether the accusations of unnecessary force stand up to scrutiny (they usually don't), or b) whether Hizbullah or some other group uses this as the excuse they have been waiting for to attempt to open up a new can of w[orms] on innocent Israeli settlers near the borders. But remember, if not this, it will be the next "incident" precipitated by the other side that will be used against Israel...

And then I braced myself for the onslaught -- which thankfully has not yet come. But with the benefit of hindsight a day later, I do regret my use of the word "attack" -- the evidence is already fairly quickly coalescing, with plenty of visual evidence, that the Israelis boraded all 7 ships peacefully, for the purpose of inspecting the cargo. Only on the 7th ship, after significant physical provcation, did the Israelis use their arms.

So I was gratified today to see the following -- which I HIGHLY recommend -- from Daniel Gordis (with whom I do NOT always agree):

in which, still admitting that he is jumping into a response before all the facts are in, he comes to roughly the same place that I did, more eloquently, and in more detail. But, along the way, he also offers what appears to be a stinging indictment of many of us in America, that may deserve much more of our attention at another time...

I also provide for you these links to more details -- admittedly from the Israeli side, and not necessarily in an unbiased form:

which reports that most, if not all of the aid that had been downloaded from the flotilla and brought to the Gaza border is now languishing there, as no one is coming to pick it up!


for video and other factoids relating to this unfortuante circumstance;

and finally, in the interests of full disclosure, this is the Ha'aretz link I referred to in my initial response above (there are better pieces on the subject from Ha'aretz than this article -- it was the one I had just read when responding:

For the record (not that most would care), here is my "official" response (as of today!):

As a Rabbi, and as a Jew, I mourn the deaths and injuries which occurred to both sides when the Israeli military attempted to board, for inspection, the ships of the so-called "Gaza Flotilla." It is sad, but hardly surprising, that so-called "humanitarian aid workers" on one of the ships attacked Israeli soldiers, whose arms were shouldered, immediately upon boarding, in some cases even taking the Israelis' weapons and using them against them. While others may choose to be unsurprised in support of those on the ship who are being cast as "defending themselves" from an "illegal" boarding in International waters, my lack of surprise stems from the common tactic of Hamas, Hizbullah and other anti-Israel terrorist organizations, who routinely hide behind innocent civilians and humanitarian efforts to gain access and cover to Israeli targets, knowing that Israel trains and practices far beyond ANY other military on the planet, to avoid injuries and damage to civilians, even to the point of endangering her own soldiers in the process. I note as well the failure, to date, of the Hamas regime in Gaza to pick up those humanitarian supplies that Israel has brought from the ships to the border.

As an American, I cannot fully understand the pressures, both internal or external, on the Israeli government and her people, which led the Netanyahu government to sanction this risky operation, that subjects Israel to tremendous external condemnation and pressure. However, I CAN understand that those who are rushing to condemn Israel for her actions have not had the chance to learn all the facts, and hardly rush to judgment with clean hands themselves, or in an unbiased manner.

I am saddened that the effort towards legitimate mutual recognition between Israel and her Palestinian neighbors, and towards true and lasting peace in that region of the Middle East, have taken a precipitous step backwards, and call upon all parties to reverse this course away from a negotiated peace that can be the only legitimate solution for all parties concerned. I condemn the calculated efforts of those who would use this conflict for their own perverse political ends, and those who rush to judgment without all the facts -- all of whom do more damage to the already wounded peace process than this incident itself.

I myself will look forward to learning the truth about this incident, as the facts become known, and will withhold all further judgments until the facts ARE known.

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