What You Need to Know About Israel Now

What You Need to Know About Israel Now

We have a Jewish state for a reason, it is a benefit to the world, and it must defend itself.

Rabbi David Geffen

Rabbi David Geffen is a native Atlantan and Conservative rabbi who lives in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Guatemala has opened its embassy in Jerusalem, an occasion that brings Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales together on Wednesday, May 16. (Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom, Israeli Government Press Office)
Meanwhile, Guatemala has opened its embassy in Jerusalem, an occasion that brings Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales together on Wednesday, May 16. (Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom, Israeli Government Press Office)

I am watching CNN’s Ben Wedeman standing out near the fence that the Palestinians continue to storm, the fence separating Israel and Gaza. (His complete, current opinion on this crisis is on the CNN website.) He is telling the world that Israel has no right to kill the Palestinians who breach the fence. Let them just do as they please and invade.

What he doesn’t want to understand is that Israel must protect its borders and its citizens.

“Israel is not really interested because the country has an economy continuing to grow,” he says. “It has the greatest military might in the region.”

No word about Hamas, the group that suggests and in many cases orders these Palestinians to breach the fence. These Palestinians are “unarmed,” so again Wedeman emphasizes that Israel should do nothing.

On Monday, I was in Tel Aviv, where our granddaughter had a ballet recital with the members of her dancing school. As I watched this beautiful young woman (I am prejudiced) gracefully spinning around the stage in her various dance steps, I closed my eyes and I thought to myself, “Did Rita and I bring our children to Israel in 1977 so that their children — our grandchildren, male and female — would have to face conflict after conflict, even facing death at times?”

Clearly, we brought them here so they could dance, they could enter high tech, they could prepare instant ads for the Internet and TV, they could express their Judaism in a most natural fashion.

We see them grow in this positive manner, but they must serve in the IDF when they are of age to protect their country. Israel still is an island of democracy seeking peace with its rivals.

I will not continue to quote from the CNN commentators or any high Palestinian official because they do not seem to get the point.

When Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, did America just turn the other cheek?

When North Korea attacked South Korea, an American ally, did the United States fight back?

Israel grew out of the horrors of the Holocaust because its people were prepared to make all types of sacrifices to help their country, which started with nothing, grow and develop. This was to Ensure a better future for their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.

Our family has lived here for 41 years. Our three children and three of our grandchildren, and now a fourth grandchild, have been in the IDF in wartime and at times been required to deal with terrorists who want to execute Israelis. They have entered the IDF with a commitment to serve while hoping for a future that will offer success and a full and positive life.

My wife and I are just American youths who grew up and chose to be in the Jewish state for our lifetime. We have seen Israel provide educational opportunities for all parts of the population. We have seen Israel challenge its citizens to live up to their potential and help change the world.

We have seen Israel maintain the migratory bird routes so millions of birds can fly through our country on their annual pilgrimage. We have seen Israel raise a new generation of filmmakers whose work is touching people all over the world. We have seen Israel create, create, create so that the world will be a better place.

There is no point criticizing the Arab countries because they would choose to see Israel pushed into the sea. There is no point criticizing the great powers other than the United States because they want to mollify the Arabs and love to see Israel lashed over and over again.

There is no point asking American college students to recognize that Israel is not an apartheid country; it is a country that makes the lives of over 1.5 million Palestinians, Israeli citizens, amazing.

They are healthier than their fellow Arabs because they have access to Israeli medical facilities. They are the most educated Arabs in the world because they attend Israeli universities, technological colleges, medical schools, law schools and graduate schools.

Israeli Arab doctors head the hospitals of our (their) country. They sit on the Supreme Court of Israel. They are, at times, the leading students when they graduate with full honors.

Is everything perfect? No, but Israel tries its best to make all its citizens feel that they are completely respected and can rise to whatever level they work for.

You can call me prejudiced for Israel. I am because I am proud of what the only Jewish state in 2,000 years has accomplished.

If my country wants to defend itself against people who seek to be killed so that Israel will be criticized for committing war crimes, I have no problem with this. I know that some Jews in Israel and around the world are not happy to hear what I have to say. Nevertheless, I have to challenge myself.

David, state what you must, as written in the Ethics of the Fathers: “When there are no men, stand up and be a man.”

Please listen to your hearts. You can be a spokesman or spokeswoman for Israel. Let your neighbors know that Israel stands for life, not death; that Israel stands for peace, not war; that Israel stands for democracy, not dictatorship.

Ben Wedeman has written and said, “The peace negotiations are dead because the USA has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

I cannot answer that bold statement. All I can say is that I believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Eretz Yisrael, as it has been for 3,000 years, and I am happy that the world has to face that fact now and forever.

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