Gaza’s Real Enemy

On August 4, Nobel Peace Laureate Eli Wiesel published a full-page Op-ed ad rebuking Hamas for using children in Gaza as human shields against Israeli rockets. Titled “Jews rejected child sacrifices 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’ turn,” it ran in major U.S. newspapers including The New York Times and The Washington Post, and was paid for by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s This World: The Values Network.

In the ad, Wiesel contended that the world must shift its criticism away from Israeli soldiers for the suffering of those in Gaza and instead hold the real culprit, Hamas, solely to blame. He used these points to build his case.

First, although Hamas and the Palestinians both live in Gaza, they are not alike. Hamas is a recognized terrorist death cult that uses children as suicide bombers and human shields. The Palestinian citizens of Gaza want a hopeful future of peace for their families. Instead, Hamas has imposed its murderous regime on them.

Second, Palestinian parents have more in common with Israeli parents than they do with Hamas. Parents in Gaza and parents in Israel are united by their love for their children and by the fact that neither would voluntarily put a child in danger. Hamas deliberately puts children and other civilians in harm’s way.

Third, both Israelis and Palestinians suffer at the hands of Hamas. Israel struggles for its survival as a nation. Those people of Gaza who reject Hamas’ credo of terror are disenfranchised and alienated by the very people they elected and entrusted to protect and defend them. Instead of the peace and hope they desire and deserve, Hamas gives them war and despair.

Last, both Muslim and Jewish cultures share a love of life and learning while Hamas promotes a barbaric cult of death.

Some have criticized Wiesel’s language as unduly provocative and forceful. The London Times even refused to run the paid ad. Stylistic affinities notwithstanding, he undeniably makes a powerful and rational argument for why Arabs and Jews and “all moderate men and women of faith” must view the war differently.

According to Wiesel, this is not a battle between Arab and Jew or Israeli and Palestinian as much as it is a battle between Hamas and Israel and Hamas and the people of Gaza. Israel’s fight with Hamas, a force determined to annihilate it, is for its right to exist. The true Muslims among the Gaza Palestinians, the ones held hostage and occupied by their own people, are unable to fight back against their Hamas oppressors.

Wiesel’s plea to the world to recognize that Hamas, and not Israel, is the real enemy of the Gaza Palestinians deserves to be heard.

This originally appeared in the Jewish Journal on August 14, 2014.

Time to Restore Peace and Security

Israel has reluctantly launched a military offensive against Hamas in response to repeated attacks against its citizenry. Fortunately most of the world agrees that Israel has an unconditional right to protect its people; some believe it should have happened sooner, while others fear that this operation could turn into a broader and more extensive war.

The fact is that war has broken out in Israel once again, and we in the diaspora must stand as one in support of Israel’s efforts to eliminate the danger terrorists pose. What options are there when people want to kill you simply because you exist, not because of anything you do or don’t do? How do you make peace with people whose mandate is your destruction?

As CJP President Barry Shrage said at a recent memorial for the three slain Israeli teens, “We don’t believe that tragedy is inevitable, we don’t believe that we’re trapped in endless cycles of violence. We just can’t afford to mourn any longer. Now is the time for action.”

We must look at the reality of what is on the ground today — not what could have been, not what should have been, but what is. As we go to press, Israel has expressed willingness to consider cease-fire terms proposed by the Egyptians. Hamas has refused. One million Israelis have spent time in a bomb shelter this past week. No country in the world would or should tolerate terror attacks on their civilian population.

We support and echo the statement of Combined Jewish Philanthropies/ Jewish Community Relations Council by urging decent people everywhere to be especially firm, vocal and unequivocal in expressing not only their support for Israel, but also an absolute intolerance for Hamas’s assaults.

On this we must stand united.

This originally appeared in the Jewish Journal on July 17, 2014.