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A Letter from Israel

sunset-over-the-mediterraneanThe beauty of the huge sun sinking quickly into the Mediterranean makes the ten thousand miles I flew to get here worthwhile. I have seen few sights as beautiful.

I am not here often, but each time I am, I am at home.

My people have laid claim to this land for 4000 years, so let no one tell us we have no right to be here. After one third of all the Jews in the world—and two-thirds of the Jews of Europe—perished in the Shoah, let no one say we have no right to be here.

Had there been an Israel in 1935, millions of Jews who died would have lived!

When, after World War One, more than 20 Arab Islamic states—in many of which a Jew cannot legally set foot—sprung up, so let no one say that we Jews, who also lived under Ottoman rule, have no right to one–tinier than almost all of them–Jewish state as well.

And when we discuss, as we should, Palestinian refugees displaced by the creation of Israel, let us also discuss the roughly equal number of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands where once Jews felt welcome and at home.

Now I often find myself critical of policies of Israel’s current government.

I often find myself wishing and hoping that they would do more than they do now to bring about peace with our Arab neighbors, but so many of Israel’s unyielding critics ignore the reality under which this tiny country labors.

When, from the time they are old enough to think, the enemy teaches its children to hate Israel, to hate Jews and to consider martyrdom in killing Jews in Israel a glorious death, what is Israel to do?

There is much to criticize in Israel, just as there is much to criticize in the United States.

Yet for 4000 uninterrupted years our people has lived on or longed to live on this land and prayed for peace with its neighbors.

The huge fiery sun sets quickly to the west over the ancient city of Jaffa and sinks quickly into the Mediterranean! And just as the poet of Genesis’ creation story wrote, a much smaller but exquisitely beautiful crescent moon takes its place to stand sentry over the night. Just east of the sea the modern city of Tel Aviv bustles about its business. The contrast between the ancient and modern tableaus that exist side by side in Israel stretches the definition of stark!

Contemporary Israel is by no means an idyllic Bible land. But it is the home of my people. Let no one say we have no right to be here!

But let Israel—by forging ancient values with modern technology—find a way to live in peace with the enemies who continually reiterate their vow to destroy us.

Israel’s history is filled with many acts of military heroism, but our Sages taught (Avot de Rabbi Natan, 23:1): “Who is the hero of heroes? One who turns an enemy into a friend!”

For the sake of our children, grandchildren and generations to come may Israel and its neighbors soon produce those types of heroes!

5 thoughts on “A Letter from Israel

  1. Are you willing to listen to what another Israeli has to say? There will be peace when the Jewish people(s) live as neighbors, with the Arabs, the way they did during the mid-Roman Empire. Listen to the words of a Jewish TV host broadcast 2 days ago.

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  2. Thank you for this, Dennis! I am always willing listen, and I am leaving this on my blog for those who read it to listen as well if they wish. Dialogue is good and healthy. and this person, whose name I do not know, presents his case eloquently.
    That said I think he overlooks or minimizes the intransigence of the Arab side. l think his position: “We are the cause of the Palestinian’ suffering” is ridiculously naive. When we left Gaza, for example (and he fails to mention this at all, a glaring omission) we left a thriving green house industry behind. They bulldozed it! Did you know that Dennis? So for this man to say, cavalierly, “Israel is responsible for the Arab’s suffering” is ludicrous.
    He also overlooks that right after the Six Day War we were willing to give everything, the whole west bank except East Jerusalem (home of Judaism’s holiest sites which for the first time since 1948 were open to all religions,) back to Jordan in exchange for peace. That offer was met by the “Three NO’s Declaration” of Khartoum. “No recognition, No negation and No peace with Israel.”
    Yet this man goes on TV, and Israel allows him to go on TV (let a spokesperson for Israel’s position go on TV in any Arab country? HAH!) and speak his version of the truth. That is what Israel is about, the free exchange of views.
    As I write in my essay (did you read that part, Dennis?) I wish Israel would do more than it does to promote peace. But this gentleman’s blaming everything on Israel is over the top. How many other countries do you think would allow one other journalists to broadcast such views to the entire nation?

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  3. I am a friend of the Jewish people everywhere. That said I am also a citizen of the world who wants to see everyone live peacefully. The Last Monologue is an Israeli Comedy show and this is the host Asaf Harel. A few years ago I posted a video of a Palestinian who did a similar commentary. Sadly YouTube forced me to remove the video even though the person gave me permission to upload it.

    I follow your blog and read almost every post. We must remember the video is one person’s opinion. For the first time that I remember the top comments do not bash Israel. With all the negativity flying around, during the last year in particular, perhaps Asaf is proving an opinion can be heard. With Bibi wanting another war against Gaza is this Haaretz way of creating public feedback? As a student of history, particularly the Roman Empire, I seek common ground and our similarities.

    Citizens from everywhere need to speak up since most of our governments do not represent a majority of the people. You are absolutely right about the suffering. Doesn’t every parent want a safe place for their children to live and grow? Governments knew what was happening in Germany during the 1930’s and slept rather than act. Time Magazine made that bloody dictator man of the year in 1936. Very few elected officials world-wild pay attention to the people of their given country. The creator gave us one planet and I am betting the odds their isn’t a second chance.

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  4. Thank you, Dennis, for this thoughtful reflection. My deepest fear, though is contained in your essay: that as Golda Meir once said to o many in the Arab world care less about the safety of their children than their hatred of Israel. Until that ends, I find peace hard to imagine

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