A Board Member Reflects on Gaza

A Board Member Reflects on Gaza

PPI board member, Phyllis Bernstein, co-chairs the Israeli Arab Educational Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.  The other day, we quoted from, and linked to, her recent article in the New Jersey Jewish News, “Helping a shared society cope with crisis.”  Today, we share her personal thoughts on the current crisis.  (These are not official views of PPI):

What I hear is: Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. There is no good way to go on Gaza. The only way to resolve the crisis is a comprehensive peace deal based on a two-state solution.
Hamas digs tunnels into Israel in order to kidnap soldiers. Israeli soldiers are in Gaza to destroy tunnels. Tunnels are underground. Seeing and destroying tunnels is not an easy task. Israeli solders tell Gaza’s people: “We are coming, you are unsafe and must move elsewhere.” But Gaza’s population is crowded and has no where to go.  Too many have already died. 
In a briefing with Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Consul General in New York, he said, “Every life lost, whether Israeli or Palestinian or anybody else, is one life lost too many.” He told us Hamas terrorists were coming out of holes into Israeli territory on their way to murder Israelis.  So that is why the Israeli government decided to send troops into the Gaza Strip to take care of the tunnels.
Quoting Tuesday’s NY Times report [with the death tolls cited already exceeded]:

Now, with the lopsided death toll mounting on both sides — more than 550 Gazans, 25 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians — world leaders are demanding an immediate halt to the hostilities. But the operation has uncovered more tunnels than expected, officials said, and there were two more deadly incursions Monday, making many Israelis say they were reluctant to leave a job half-finished.
That has Israel struggling with a more distilled version of the dilemma it has faced in repeated rounds against Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates Gaza. If it stops now, it faces the prospect of a newly embittered enemy retaining the capacity to attack. But if it stays the course, it is liable to kill many more civilians and face international condemnation.

I acknowledge my concerns about the loss of human life on both sides and the conflict’s complexity. I feel the same pain, fear and sorrow as the rest of the Jewish community when Israel is threatened and want to express my support for Israel’s right to defend itself. I do not oppose the ground operation. (Yes, I hate it, but tunnels are not visible from the sky or the sea.) I am not calling on the US to stop supplying weapons and money to Israel, but I am calling on the US to help negotiate a comprehensive and peaceful two-state solution.

Postscript: Today, Phyllis Bernstein has shared this link to a short piece in Haaretz.com: Compassion on both sides is a moral obligation, by the world-renowned orchestra conductor Daniel Barenboim (also well-known and controversial for his friendship with the late Palestinian-American activist and academic, Edward Said).  Barenboim sums up his appeal as follows:The conflict has today reached a previously unimaginable level of gruesomeness and despair. As both an Israeli and Palestinian citizen, I call for both sides to accept the other side’s suffering and their rights.” 

By | 2014-07-24T15:05:00-04:00 July 24th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

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