Everyone is concerned over the situation in Israel. I want to provide a summary of what we are receiving from our national organization, from our partner agencies in Israel and other sources. We will continue to post on our website and on Facebook.
One of the most important things we can do when confronted by those critical of the action Israel has taken is to point to the fact that our State Department has declared support for the Israeli self-defense campaign. The statement issued included, “No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians.” The Obama administration on Tuesday firmly and repeatedly expressed support for the campaign to stop weeks of escalating rocket fire from the Hamas controlled Gaza strip. “We support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.”
Our national organization, the Jewish Federations of North America issued a statement to the press on behalf of all Jewish Federations. In the statement, worldwide Jewish community unending support was unequivocally expressed for the government and the people of Israel.
Here are some talking points we can use to explain what is happening and why. I suggest we share this with our adult children, even though many of them are on summer break from their studies:
• Since Monday, July 7, Hamas has indiscriminately fired over 160 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israeli cities, targeting cities as far north as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In response, Israel has launched “Operation Protective Edge,” whose sole purpose is to defend the security of its citizens by preventing Hamas from continuing with these attacks. Israel’s actions, which we hope will successfully address the core threats over the course of this operation, are understandable. Americans would expect the same from our government if missiles were falling on vulnerable U.S. population centers.
• Of the 160 rockets that have been fired, 116 have struck Israel, 23 of which were intercepted. In 2014 thus far, that number rises to 450. And over the course of the last 12 years, ever since Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in 2005, over 13,000 rockets and mortars have been indiscriminately fired at Israel’s towns and cities
• White House Spokesman Josh Earnest echoed these concerns, "We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire inside of Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza. No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks." Similarly, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned “the recent rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza.” He went on to say, “These indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas must stop.”
• In addition to countering rocket and mortar-fire from Gaza, Israel is also threatened by cross-border incursions from Hamas, including recently stopping an armed group that sought to infiltrate Israel from the sea.
• Alongside the EU, the United States has designated Hamas a terrorist organization that is fueled by an extremist ideology and openly seeks the destruction of Israel. Moreover, if history is our guide, against fundamental principles of international law, it will use civilians in Gaza as human shields in an effort to thwart Israel’s military. And once again Israel will do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties.
• At the moment, millions of Israelis are being forced into bomb shelters, schools are closed, and public activities are cancelled.
• The increased sophistication of these rockets is due to continued attempts by the Iranian regime to smuggle weapons to Hamas.
• At this difficult time, it is important to remember that the only long term solution to this conflict is a negotiated, two-state solution that will allow Israel to live side-by-side in peace and security alongside an independent nation state of Palestine.
It is highly likely that a special campaign will be launched by JFNA to raise funds to:
*Bring children from the south to safer areas in Israel.
*Provide emergency care to seniors in the south with disabilities.
*Provide emergency care for youth at risk living in the south.
We will, of course, offer our community ways to participate.
Thank you very much. I hope this is helpful.
- Alan Margolies, Federation Executive Director
Read more and find updates from Jewish Federations of North America.