As we all know, Israel is frequently the target of criticism by the world’s media and the so-called international community. No other country is constantly placed under such scrutiny, or required to live up to standards that few if any other country achieves. Israel has only to put one foot wrong for the whole world to pounce on her. There is little understanding of the immense challenges and security threats with which she has to contend and little sympathy for her case.
One has only to look at the way that the world responded to the commando raid on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, or the lack of support for the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip following the firing of thousands of rockets and mortars on Israel’s southern towns and kibbutzim to understand that the international criticism, which is so frequently directed against us, is motivated not by objectivity but frequently by ignorance, political interests or downright anti-semitism.
Unfortunately, the Jewish community, including particularly our students, are not immune to such criticism and sometimes end up voicing those same views for lack of information, or a credible source to help them comprehend the full picture. Therefore, the role we have to play, as religious leaders, is of such cardinal importance.
Our young need to know that Israel is the only democracy with an independent judiciary in the entire Middle East. They need to know that gay couples can walk the streets of Tel Aviv hand in hand. In any other country in the Middle East they would risk being stoned to death. In Israel, so-called honour-killings are treated as murder. In Israel, women can leave their homes and go to work without being required to be accompanied by escorts. In Israel, synagogues churches and mosques exist side by side. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Jews and Arabs work together in our parliament, as judges in our courts and as doctors and surgeons in our hospitals.
You only have to look at what Prof. Alan Dershowitz has to say about civil rights and sexual equality in Saudi Arabia to understand how different Israel is from her neighbours.
Is Israel perfect? No. Is the granting of full and equal religious rights in Israel for all Jews a source of contention? Yes. Have the Israeli authorities been sufficiently forceful in controlling the hooligan fringe within the settler community? No. Is the current relationship between religion and politics in Israel tolerable in a democracy? No.
However, no country is perfect and Israel faces more challenges than most. Hizbollah has more than rebuilt its military capability in Southern Lebanon in spite of UN Resolution 1701 and the presence of UN forces there. Iran is closer than ever to deploying nuclear weapons and the Hamas continue to launch rocket attacks on Israel, which have numbered more than 100 this year alone, including several during this past week.
The coming weeks and months are going to be extremely challenging ones for the Jewish State. We in Israel need to know that the Jewish world is with us. That doesn’t mean always supporting our present government, but it does mean not aiding and abetting, even indirectly, those forces that would destroy us.
Thanks for sparing your time to read this.
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Rabbis For Israel