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Choose to Shine

The avalanche of misinformation and the cascade of horrific images multiplying now in the wake of the Simchas Torah atrocities can feel overwhelming. Of course, we care because that is who we are. Yet we must draw and hold the line between our natural tendency to empathize versus exposing ourselves to the half-truths, the outright lies, and the hate-filled vitriol of those who seek our destruction. People who march in support of those who commit unspeakable terror even against innocent babies and harmless elderly have no moral foundation. Those who attempt to draw some kind of equivalence between defending citizens and terrorizing civilians are beyond reprehensible. For any politician, union, or other organization to voice support for the same evildoers who danced in the streets shouting “Death to America” on September 11, 2001, I feel nothing but revulsion and disdain. Make no mistake – those who celebrate terror “victories” are your enemy.

Jewish people feel fortunate to experience a brief respite of relative calm these last 75 years following the Holocaust, enjoying the safety of the Land of the Free. We have built shuls, yeshivos, Bais Yaakov schools, mikvaohs, global learning movements, and chessed organizations beyond compare of any other period in history. We have established gemachs and support infrastructure for every need imaginable. The opportunities to propagate goodness in the world are astounding. However, we must remember that we are still in exile and that this is not where we truly belong.

As one who has been alive during many of the conflicts in the Middle East, I have personal memories of the many efforts Israel has made in the name of peace. I remember when Israel signed peace accords with Egypt in 1979. When I grew up, the map of Israel was much larger. It included Sinai Peninsula which is over 23,000 square miles. Israel now has about 11,200 square miles, less than half as much as the land it gave away. That is smaller than the entire state of Maryland, just for reference. It is now a third of its former size since Israel ceded the Sinai as a land for peace deal. If only that were an option to satisfy today’s terrorists, it might be worth it. I don’t believe the claim that a return to pre-1967 borders would make any difference at all. I remember the Oslo Accords in 1993. Those were eventually betrayed by Hamas with unprovoked terror attacks. Even before there was a State of Israel in existence, Yeshivah students studying peacefully were massacred by their neighbors in Chevron in 1929.

When mobs chant “Free Palestine”, they do not envision a peaceful coexistence alongside Israel. They do not even want a piece of Israel. They claim the entire country. What do you think “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” means? The river is the Jordan River, and the sea is the Mediterranean. There is nothing else but Israel in between. They will settle for nothing less. The famous three NOs still stand: no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel, and no peace with Israel.

Let’s also remember that Hamas was elected as their governing body in 2006. Any attempt to separate Hamas from its constituents is disingenuous. Surely there are moderate thinkers among their population who would welcome peace. Regardless, enough voters chose Hamas to govern, and that is who officially represents the Palestinian people. Keep all of this in mind when anyone tries to frame Israel as the bad guy.

So, what should a Jewish person do when our nation is under attack? We must first recognize that everything comes from Hashem, including what we consider to be good or bad. Nobody can cause harm without it first being decreed in Heaven. When we recognize that Hashem is orchestrating world events to call our attention to return to Him then we can feel safe knowing that the real mission is not about Hamas. They are only messengers. True courage comes from within, to size up our own shortcomings, and to put ourselves back on the true path. May we see an end to all tribulations, and may we all merit the final redemption, speedily, in our days.

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