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Parshat VaYera: Israel at War – Week 4

As Israel continues its assault on Hamas, the all-too-predictable world reaction has begun. Calls for immediate cease-fire, cries of indiscriminate bombings of innocent civilians cannot be tolerated and must stop. Israel should be tried for genocide and other war crimes. Nations have begun to call their Israeli ambassadors home. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done a quick about-face after normalizing relations with Israel and is defending Hamas. Massive protests in Europe, of course, where else? Leftist campuses are filled with pro-Hamas supporters at the injustices being foisted upon the Palestinians who have been driven to butcher Jews, because, you know, that is a legitimate form of resistance is it not? And on and on it goes.  

Am I personally worried by all this? Of course, just like you are, I am sure. But there are a few things that I keep in mind so that anxiety and concern don’t overwhelm my thoughts and feelings.

One is that we have seen this movie before. Yeah it’s a lot more intense than other times – that cannot be denied. But let’s not forget that the violence done against Israel’s citizens was very different this time as well and naturally called for a much more forceful response. 

But the bottom line is that this is not the first time the world has been on Israel’s case for defending itself and doing what it feels necessary for its security. They went nuts when Israel bombed Iraq’s unfinished nuclear reactor in 1981. They went nuts during the first and second Intifadas. They went nuts during other conflicts with Hamas. They always go nuts on Israel.

But this time it’s different you say. And it isn’t just the anti-Israel hate that is rearing its ugly head but it has surfaced every garden-variety Jew-hater out there as well. True. And this weekend there will be even more protests and demonstrations. But if recent history is any indicator, it will die down. It will fade. People will forget. They will go back to their lives. They will get Palestinian fatigue. The intensity will not last. 

Why not? Because it’s fake. It’s fake outrage. Fake? Yeah fake. And here is the proof: Are there any similar protests and mass demonstrations as Putin slaughters Ukrainians in his continued attempt to take over their land? Some but not nearly anywhere to the same degree that we are witnessing now with Israel. 

But here is an even bigger recent atrocity that didn’t elicit such outrage. And it wasn’t something that happened during our parents our grandparents time but within the last decade. Wanna guess how many Syrians have lost their lives in that civil war at the hands of its president Bashar al-Assad? Take a guess. “Estimates of the total number of deaths in the Syrian Civil War vary between 503,064 and about 613,407 as of March 2023” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. This in addition to 13 million Syrians being displaced and 6.7 million refugees forced to flee Syria.

Over half a million dead Syrians. Millions upon millions who have lost their homes. And what has been the reaction? Mass protest all over the world, on campuses and the like? Nope. Why? Is Palestinian blood redder and their lives more valuable than Syrian ones? No. We all know the answer to the inconsistency: Jews are not killing Syrians – so nobody cares. But Jews are killing Palestinians – so everybody seemingly cares.

So take note, fake morality and indignation doesn’t last. The crocodile tears dry up and the outrage withers away.    

And here is the second reason I am not getting crazy worried and anxious. There is another large group of people out there who are a lot less noisy than the pro-Hamas people. And they are the ones who love the fact that Israel is wiping evil off the face of the earth. They are quite happy that a group that follows the beliefs of ISIS and Hitler are being destroyed. They feel good that Justice is being done and a malevolent group like Hamas is being decimated. As for the loss of innocent lives, they fully know and understand that Hamas is to blame for the deaths of so many women, elderly and children who are being used to shield their rocket launchers and munitions, and that this is indeed part of Hamas’  playbook. 

This group is quietly and not so quietly cheering Israel on and offering support in many ways. From the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of the UK down to the New York construction worker confronting a man who was removing posters of kidnapped Israeli hostages, they know and understand that Israel is on the front lines of the freedoms they cherish and they are in full support. They get that this is a battle of Good versus Evil and that they need to be on the right side of that conflict and support Israel in any way they can. 

And finally there is one more reason that, while we should be concerned on the one hand, we should certainly not feel gloom and doom on the other. And that is because the God of Israel will protect her. The same way that God protected Eretz Yisrael and its holy and brave inhabitants during the 1948 War of Independence, and during the 1967 Six-Day War, and during the 1973 Yom Kippur War – He will protect Israel this time as well. Read up on the history of any of those wars and you will see that in many ways those clashes were a much more existential threat to Israel than today’s conflict. It may not seem so because of the front row seat we all have thanks to technology that sends war videos around instantly. But in truth things were very touch-and-go for Israel during those conflicts. 

God Almighty got us through every one of those wars stronger and greater than Israel and the Jewish nation was before. And there is no question that He will do the same this time as well.

הִנֵּ֚ה לֹ֣א יָ֖נוּם וְלֹ֣א יִישָׁ֑ן שׁ֜וֹמֵ֗ר יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
Behold the Guardian of Israel
Neither slumbers nor sleeps
-Psalm 121

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