It was Saturday, October 7th 2023, on Simchat Torah, one of our most joyous Jewish festivals in our calendar. It is the very last day of the High Holy days, after a beautiful week of Sukkot, where we live outside in our booths. Sukkot is my favorite holiday and time of the year. It looked to be a beautiful weekend.
At 6:30 AM, I was out with the dog on her weekly play date with Buddy of similar breed. David, Buddie’s master, and I sit to the side to avoid the two dogs playing and moving at breakneck speed. We started hearing the booms, almost continuous for over a half an hour. Since it was the Sabbath (Shabbat) and a holiday, where we don’t use electronics, it wasn’t until a few hours later that I heard what was happening from one of the security agents who had a radio. We made the Simchat Torah service in the street in front of my house, so that at least a few times, we could run for cover when the air-raid sirens sounded.
My old friend sent me a message on Christmas Eve making similar accusations. I invited him to Israel. I would take him to the “Gaza Envelope” communities to see what happened there; I would take him to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute to see for himself what the innocent people in Gaza created. I would take him to the site of the Nova Festival where over 300 young people the age of his kids were brutally raped and murdered; where my youngest son was working on the morning of the attack, but was called away a few hours before to fix another stage at another festival. I can’t help but think that Karen and I were just a few hours away from being parents of one of the dead or missing. B”H. I would take my friend as close to the Gaza front as possible. Yishai Fleisher, who has a podcast referenced in my notes, reminded me at dinner a few weeks ago that the front is not an hour from my house, but 30 seconds away, on the other side of the hill where I live. Since Yishai is on active duty in the area where we live, he told me that the threat from my innocent neighbors is existential and on-going. Just today, Carmi Tzur, a Jewish village ten minutes south of here, was sprayed with bullets from their neighbors. Attacks against Jews, civilians mostly, in the West Bank is up over 400% since October 7th and includes car rammings, shootings, stabbings, and bombings. Rock throwing, as described in the Western Press, is actually a pool ball size rock launched with a sling with great precision and lethal as a Kalashnikov round coming through your car window.
How does an innocent population successfully build and conceal the construction of almost 500 miles of underground attack tunnels in Gaza that run under every school, hospital, mosque, community center, UNRWA school and playground, with thousands of tunnel entrances in homes and apartments?
How does an innocent population in Gaza successfully conceal the over 30,000 rockets, in batteries under schools, hospitals, and community centers, that have rained down on Israel since Israel abandoned the Gaza strip in 2005, even digging up our dead to be reburied in Israel?
How does an innocent population host a Hamas data center under the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza without anyone knowing or speaking of it unless loyal to Hamas?
How many innocent parents and siblings supported their Hamas jihadi terrorist child throughout his upbringing, schooling, and indoctrination to become a “shaheed”, a martyr who kills Jews with abandon?
How many innocent civilians celebrated the grisly and vicious murder, rape, beheadings, and baking alive babies in their parents ovens on October 7th by dancing in the streets of Gaza and handing out sweets? By the way, my innocent neighbors in the West Bank did the same thing on October 7th, enjoying sweets while watching the massacre live on their smartphones.
How innocent are the 6500 UNRWA teachers who sent messages of joy and praise in their Telegram group for the murderers and rapists who entered Israel on October 7th, and killed over 1200 Israelis?
How innocent are the almost 20,000 Gaza residents who entered Israel every day on work permits, who mapped and cataloged their potential victims, reporting their findings to Hamas for the October 7th attack?
If the Hamas enemy says that they will repeat October 7th again and again, we believe them. Why wouldn’t we go after them to protect ourselves?
To date, 566 IDF troops, including the sons, fathers, brothers-in-laws, uncles, aunts, sisters, and mothers have died serving their country in the Gaza war. We are paying a higher price for going from building to building with surgical precision to find and uproot Hamas terrorists, tunnels, and tunnel entrances, reducing the loss of civilian life, rather than just leveling the strip until there is not one Gazan left standing.
Our IDF has created humanitarian corridors through the war zone to move refugees to safer areas while Egypt blocks their exit into the northern Sinai Desert. Due to pressure from the West, we will only meet our military objectives by rerouting the refugees through the conquered war zone, putting our soldiers and accomplishments at risk. Yet we are accused of genocide?
Akiva’s father is coming home after being gone since October 8th. He has not had a minute's rest working to protect his family and country. Akiva and his siblings have been brave all along. I can see, though, that his concentration and his ability to focus has been compromised by the stress of his father’s absence. I am grateful to be able to help him and his family; it eases my stress to make a difference as I have said before.
I walk the dog five times a day. I get a lot of exercise for an old man. Yet I am always looking for escape routes in the walkways, buildings, and overgrown foliage that make my city. What if we were attacked by our “innocent” neighbors on the other side of the hill; where would we hide? Where would we stand and fight? What is the weapon if you don’t have a gun? Do I have to kill the dog to keep her from following us to our hiding place? My safe room/bomb shelter door does not close, and even if it did, the doors are no match for an RPG. Now what?
By definition: Genocide is the intentional destruction of a people in whole or in part. In 1948, the United Nations Genocide Convention defined genocide as any of five "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group".
Israel is defending itself from a diabolical enemy that has spent billions of dollars building their underground fortress, to commit genocide, carefully hidden and covered up over a period of years by its population. How innocent are they really? Our goal is to eradicate the threat from Hamas, later Hezbollah, Fatah, and every other Jew hating actor in our land. That is our human right. One that we earned even before October 7th as our people, my friends and neighbors, were murdered, one by one, almost 2400 since the Oslo Accords and before October 7th. Now the score is almost 4000 Israelis dead at the hands of the innocent Palestinians. We will not stop this war regardless of the accusations levelled by our friends. We have no choice but to push it to the end.
The blood libel - by definition was the idea that Jews murder Christian children for their blood to make Passover Matzo. It was a powerful lie, but told often enough to be responsible for the murder of millions of Jews at the hands of their non-Jewish neighbors over the past 2000 years. The Palestinian Jihadists have successfully extended the blood libel to the murder of innocent civilians by Jews in Israel and across the world. It is an accusation made by the pro-Palestinian supporters and the anti-Israel crowd that has taken to the streets and university campuses in the West, by the UN and its mostly totalitarian national members, and by my old friend. We call this antisemitism, a unique hatred of Jews. Antisemites are poor neighbors, and they don’t make good friends.