Q: Rabbi, some of my friends protested this week, blaming Israel for the atrocities of Hamas. Can you answer some of the questions posed?
A: Absolutely. I wish every one of us would familiarize ourselves with the facts, not the myths, so we can each become ambassadors for truth and peace.
Q: Instead of firing back at Hamas, why does Israel not concede to Hamas’ demands so they would stop killing Jews and stop firing rockets?
A: Hamas openly calls and aims for the death of every Jew in Israel, as clearly stated in their charter, written in 1987 (which you can read online). Should Israel concede to this demand? Should we murder every Jew in Israel and then there will be no more terror and no more rockets? Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization that wants to wipe Israel.
Q: Why do you say it is about genocide? Maybe it is just about occupation? Israel is occupying Gaza and has created a siege around it, so in desperation, the Gazans need to kill Jews and shoot rockets to fight the injustice.
A: I believe in Hamas. They state clearly in their charter and all their messages that the goal here is the eradication of the Jewish people. If someone just hates Jews and Israel with no rationale, there is little to be said in defense of truth. But if someone is looking for some truth, here it is: In August of 2005, Israel expelled ten thousand Jews from their homes in Gaza, their communities demolished by the Israel Defense Forces. Not a single Jew or Israeli soldier was left in Gaza. The siege Israel created was not to block any essentials, but only to stop (unsuccessfully) weaponry from being smuggled into Gaza to be used against Jews in Israel.
Q: Why not just withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, and create a Palestinian State, and all will be fine?
A: Israel did just that with Gaza! Gaza was the first Palestinian State, created back in 2005, and it became a center of terror. It became instantly clear that the demand for a Palestinian State was not to live side by side with Israel, but to replace Israel. Following the Oslo Accords, when Israel gave autonomy to Palestinians in the West Bank, Israel saw the worst terror attacks against its citizens. Conceding territory, sadly, is an invitation for war, not peace.
Q: How can Israel justify killing civilians if their intent is to destroy Hamas?
A: The death of every innocent human being is horrific. But what is the reason for all these tragic casualties? Because Hamas places its fighters among the civilian population, using them as human shields, and launches its rockets from schools, hospitals, and homes. The Palestinian people are being held hostage by Hamas. If Hamas would not be sending murderers and shooting rockets into Israel, would even one child in Gaza die? Never. So why are we blaming Israel for deaths caused by Hamas?
Q: But Israel is shooting rockets into Gaza and killing these innocent people?
A: If someone declared war on your country, and it is waging the war amidst its civilian population, do you try to defeat your enemy or do you just allow your people to die? If you really care about the safety and future of Palestinian children, you should embrace Israel and combat Hamas. If only Hamas would love their own children a little more than they hate Israeli children, there would be peace.
Q: Still, isn’t Israel’s response disproportionate? Can’t they show more restraint?
A: When you are trying to end a war, you try to end it as swiftly as you can. Remember, if Hamas would not murder and kidnap Jews, this war would have never begun. Israel’s moral duty today is to eliminate Hamas completely and take full control over Gaza, so that no more innocent people die. This is not about being proportionate. This is about ensuring that 6 million Jews in Israel are not slain.
Q: Doesn’t Israel understand that they are creating more terrorists? The fury at Israel as a result of bombing Gaza will make more people want to join Hamas.
A: First of all, feelings of frustration and rage do not make you into a terrorist. A culture of death and education of hate does. Israel doesn’t need to do anything to create terrorists - Islamic extremism does that, but Israel must act to destroy those who threaten its people. There is one great mistake Israel has made: It allowed the terror organizations and cells around it and inside of it to flourish. Israel showed weakness for years and we saw the consequences on October 7.
May G-d protect every Jew living in Israel, and may He protect all innocent people, the world over. May G-d give our leaders the wisdom and courage to do what they need to do to protect our people and our homeland.