Updates from Israel:
A letter from Tomer
Dear Temple Beth Torah family,
It has almost been four years since I first entered the building and started my time as a ShinShin (volunteer for the Jewish Agency for Israel) at TBT. Regardless, I still feel the need to make sure that the incredible connection between your congregation and Israel, as well as the Love you showed me for Israel, stays close and warm as possible - especially these days.
Those of you who ever met me, as my student, at Temple hallways or during services, know that I love Israel. Those of you who ever met me might as well know that I firmly believe that loving Israel means that one must accept and understand the difficulties, as much as one appreciates and cares for the beautiful nature, people, language, and culture in Israel.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes on for ages; some even say that it started before Israel was established in 1948. This conflict has had its ups and downs. Israeli governments and politicians throughout the years have tried, and still constantly trying to negotiate a deal, either a ceasefire or a peace agreement, with Palestinian leaders in Gaza and East Jerusalem - and they sometimes succeed, even if it does not last for longer than few months or years.
"Where there's smoke, there's fire." Sadly, smoke hovers over Israel-Palestine relations for many years, smoke that lights up into a big, wild bonfire every few years. Summer of 2014 was the last time this smoke lit up when 3 Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas members, followed by operation Protective Edge that lasted for seven weeks. Since then, Israel and Gaza have managed to maintain a relatively quiet and calm relationship. But, history repeats itself, and the Israeli-Palestinian relations started heating up again last week due to various events not necessarily related to each other. The two main events were:
- Mahmud Abbas (aka. Abu Mazen), the president of the Palestinian National Authority, decided to cancel the Palestinian election, stating that Israel would not allow having the elections in East Jerusalem as planned. Some also suggest that the cancelation was due to Abbas' fear of losing the elections to Hamas. The cancellation led many Palestinians, both in Jerusalem and Gaza, to protest - causing conflicts on the Gaza Border.
- Shiekh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem: Shieh Jarrah is a neighborhood in Jerusalem where Jordan and Israel ruled over the years:
- Between 1948-1967 the area was ruled by Jordan.
- During the 6-days war, Israel conquered the area. To allow the Arab citizens to keep their homes, Israel and Jordan signed an agreement that helps Arab citizens to stay in the neighborhood as long as they pay rent for the now-Israeli property.
- Since then, some Palestinian families in Shiekh Jarrah did not pay rent and were evicted by Israeli forces by a decree of Israel's High Courts.
- The eviction of Palestinian families has led to many protests over the years. Last week, as some families were about to be evicted, some Palestinian members of the neighborhood protested and fought back, getting the support of Palestinians in Gaza.
The protests got more extensive and more violent, leading to another Israeli operation - operation Gatekeeper. So far, hundreds of missiles were shot at Israel from Gaza, hitting even Tel Aviv and Ra'anana.
The Internet is full of articles about Israel and the attacks, both pro-Israel and pro-Arab.
As I mentioned, loving Israel means that one must accept and understand the difficulties in Israel. It is not easy, nor pleasant, to wake up at 3 am to the sound of a siren, knowing I need to run to the shelter as fast as possible while counting the booms. Loving Israel also means knowing it is not perfect. But, the Israeli government can not, and will not, stay silent as Israel is under attack.
Depends on the article, we all might think that either side is right. Know this - Israel is doing and will do everything in its power to keep its people and Gaza citizens safe. Every attack is thoroughly planned to ensure that only Hamas leaders will be harmed or known Hamas buildings, which the IDF certainly knows to be empty, will be destroyed.
No one prefers this situation. We Israelis all hope that it will all be over soon with as few casualties as possible
I welcome you to email me with any question you have and I will try to reply with the best answer I have.
Stay safe and stay healthy,
If you would like to contact Tomer via email, please call the main office.