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Saturday, March 28, 2015

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Do not lay down, do not soften

Tags: Columnists Egyptian gaza IDF Palestinian
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Avrum Rosensweig

Do not lay down my people. Do not soften.

That is the challenge of this war on Gaza. That is what we, who support Israel in this war, are faced with regularly as the battle scalds. Do not lay down. Do not soften.

Every Jew I know is devastated by the deaths in Gaza. We are a compassionate people, and at the core of our beliefs is the commandment to “love thy neighbour.” So when a Palestinian child is killed, we suffer. Let the world know that. Let them know we are the ones who call Palestinian homes before bombing, who send leaflets overhead prior to military operations. Pundits say the Israel Defence Force is the most ethical military in the world. We are the ones who set up hospitals for our civilians, for our enemies. 

Do not lay down. Do not soften. 

It is easy to do. As I write this article, I am crying, having just seen pictures of children dead, in Gaza. What Jew is not? What Jew cannot but respond to his or her DNA, which forces us to be compassionate? Which Jew does not remember the warnings by the angels in the Torah to the Jewish People upon hearing of the death of the Egyptian slave owners, killed when the Red Sea waves returned? The angel said, “They, too, are God’s creations. Do not dance in celebration of their death.” And we do not.

Do not lay down. Do not soften.

Our task is hard. Eighteen-year-olds are ordered by the IDF to enter Gaza to destroy tunnels built for mass terrorist attacks, in which no doubt our children would have been kidnapped and killed. Eighteen! Our job is hard, because every drop of our consciousness, as Jews, yells out, “Let them be!” Allow the 18-year-old to live his life. Allow the Palestinians in Gaza some peace from the horrendous noise that must hammer away incessantly as bombs drop. We, the Jewish People, are built to protest such things, yet in this case, we must encourage them. That is not our nature. But it is right.

Do not lay down. Do not soften.

Once again Israel and the Palestinians are central to the world’s agenda. Our Israel is so often their evil. And as the focus sits squarely on Israel and Gaza, Syria is free to kill its own people, and ISIS can cruelly go about wiping out Christians from northern Iraq and forcing conversion, or death. World be aware. And with all of this, we go about our days. We laugh at jokes, but we are mourning and we are scarred. We are reminded in a very real way that anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment is real, and graphically portrayed through swastikas on bus shelters in Thornhill and on the placards of our enemies, yelling for the ovens. 

Do not lay down. Do not soften.

With all of this, as we await the end of this war that shakes us violently, it is paramount we do not let those voices calling for our destruction to seep into our souls, nor do we wobble from the verbal and physical cuts and jabs thrown our way by regular citizens. It is crucial that we stand tall, with great self-respect and an intense appreciation of our peoplehood and values. Be thankful every tick of the clock that the State of Israel is our homeland, with foibles and wrinkles, with brilliance and compassion. 

We pray for the safety of all innocents and ask forgiveness where we have done wrong. We thank God or the forces that stir our existence, for the gift of the Jewish People, and for the resolve to protect ourselves, the insight to know how and for our soul that forever cries out for peace for all person-kind. 

Do not lay down. Do not soften. 

Avrum.rosensweig@veahavta.org

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