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Baer Family Early Childhood Learning Center

 Reflections on the War in Israel- October 7, 2023

Like so many, I attended services this morning with a sense of horror, despair, and disorientation resulting from the events unfolding in Israel. We are shocked and horrified as we witness the developing situation and watch the death toll rise. As a frequent visitor to Israel who has developed a great interest in and attachment to the people, history, and land, I take this opportunity to share some background and thoughts.

Israel was caught off-guard by a massive and coordinated attack mounted out of the Gaza Strip by Hamas. Israel’s response will be intense, and we should be prepared to hear the word “disproportionate” used extensively, as we have in the past. Can we even comprehend what a “proportionate” response to these atrocities might be or mean?  As well, we may hear the term “asymmetrical war” used to describe this conflict, meaning this is not a traditional war between two sovereign states.  Hamas combatants do not wear uniforms, nor engage in conventional battlefield practices, nor do they conform to the international conventions of warfare.  Hamas employs the civilian population as camouflage and shield, including schools and hospitals.  This practice ensures that any attempt to silence their guns and rocket launchers results in the destruction civilian infrastructure and tragically the collateral loss of civilian life. This is not war but terrorism on a massive scale.

I encourage us to learn more about the history, complexity, and circumstances of this conflict. I am a Zionist but not the type who will defend Israel’s every action (just as a proud and patriotic American, I will not defend America’s every action), and there is certainly a lot that Israel has not gotten right with regard to the Palestinians, and perhaps especially those living in Gaza. But those transgressions in no way justify the actions of Hamas, who have repeatedly targeted Israeli civilians, and today, more egregiously than ever before. It is fact that Palestinian civilians have suffered from Israeli military actions, but Israel has never targeted civilians nor ever taken civilians hostage. 

History clearly shows that Hamas has shown no interest pursuing any kind of peace with Israel. Hamas, by its charter and actions, remains dedicated to Israel’s destruction. While Israel has not always done all it could to try to achieve peace, it is impossible to begin such a process if there is no one on the other side who is willing to engage in even the most basic conversation about it. 

For now, our hearts continues to ache, and we hold our breath as we think of all of our friends and family who live in Israel and are all more vulnerable right now than usual. Let’s reach out to them, hoping they may see and feel our support, so they know they are in our thoughts. 

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, all Israel, and all the world. We stand by feeling helpless except for prayer, knowing that prayer is all that we have until there is more that we can do.

Thu, July 25 2024 19 Tammuz 5784