This week, Israel targeted and eliminated the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander in Gaza, Baha Abu al-Ata. PIJ is a terrorist organization supported and directed by Iran. Al-Ata was directly responsible for hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. In response to the targeted military strike on Al-Ata, hundreds of rockets have been launched into Israel, injuring 58 innocent Israelis and terrorizing countless others. Of course, Israel has defended herself against these rocket attacks. As a result, 34 Palestinians were killed. While most of these fatalities were reported to be members of PIJ and other terror groups, innocent civilians were also killed. Palestinian terrorists launch their rockets from urban communities, intentionally putting innocent people, often children, in harm’s way. The Israel Defense Forces go to great lengths to avoid harming civilians as they work to eliminate the threat of rockets being fired into Israel, but tragically, they’re not always successful. This is part of the horror of this never-ending crisis.
While out on a hike with her family back on August 23, Rina Shnerb, a 17-year-old Israeli girl, was killed by a roadside bomb planted by Palestinian terrorists. Al-Ata’s PIJ and Hamas praised the murder of this Israeli child, saying it was a natural response to the resistance.
This week, Amir Ayyad, a seven-year-old Palestinian child, was killed in Gaza as the IDF responded to a barrage of rockets, a fundamental part of the terrorists’ resistance.
As my friend Hen Mazzig, who spoke at Ramat Shalom last week, recently shared on Twitter: “If you mourn the death of one of these children, but not the other, you are the reason why Israelis and Palestinians don’t have peace.”
Israel must defend herself from those who seek to do her harm and we must defend her right to do so. At the same time, we must never allow the hate of those who seek to harm the Jewish State infiltrate our hearts and keep us from feeling the pain and heartache that permeates both sides of this terrible crisis.
I want to add that Hen was at my alma mater, Vassar College, last night. Unfortunately, while speaking on campus, students attempted to shut him down with the hateful chant embraced by terrorists: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” You can watch this happen here.
Interestingly while Hen was speaking, Kaleidoscope, a celebration of diversity, was also taking place at Vassar. It appears that being pro-Israel is not included in the diversity being celebrated on campus. Late last night, several of us communicated our concerns about the hate directed at Hen with Vassar’s President, Elizabeth Bradley. She just responded this morning. You can read her response here.
My response to Bradley’s remarks: Referring to the chant “from the river to the sea” as being “words (that) have been associated by some people with anti-Semitism” belittles words of hate. This chant calls for the elimination of the Jewish State. It sends a very chilling message, one that is heard loudly and clearly by the Jewish/pro-Israel community. If another ethnic, religious or cultural group says that words are hateful, are these words deemed hateful to “some people” and not forcefully denounced by all? Being part of the “some people” that Bradley refers to, I can say that to diminish the toxicity of “from the river to the sea” by asserting that they’re words that some of us association with anti-Semitism diminishes the fact that these words epitomize anti-Semitism.
And one final thing. We had another school shooting this week. If you have not read up on the gun reform amendment that many are trying to get on our Florida ballot, please do so here.