Tonight I spoke at the Boca Raton Community Israel Solidarity Gathering organized by the South Palm Beach Jewish Federation
(with over 1,000 attendees packing Bnai Torah Cong).
This is what I said:
Over the past nine days, the Hamas terrorist organization has fired 1305 rockets at Israeli civilians.
The strange thing is, that this has, over time, come to sound like a normal type of statistic. When we hear it, we forget that even one rocket fired unprovoked and indiscriminately at an unarmed civilian population is a vile and abhorrent war crime.
When we take a closer look at this despicable act, repeated over a thousand times, it becomes even more horrific, for the Hamas commits this war crime while hiding behind the same defenseless civilians whom they are responsible to protect – the citizens of Gaza whom they profess to rule and represent. I can think of nothing more cynical and evil – committing a war crime, so that they can better commit another war crime.
Some people call this using "human shields", but that doesn’t even begin to describe the appalling nature of the tactic. You see a shield is valuable because of its resiliency; it can absorb blows while remaining intact. The Hamas however, view the civilian population as valuable not because of its resiliency, but rather the opposite, because of its vulnerability. Knowing the value which Israel and the civilized world places on human life – but being itself unbound by such values - Hamas is forcing the Israeli Goverment onto the horns of a dilemma – does it protect Israelis but harm Gazan civilians – appearing to be ruthless to both itself and a judgmental world? Or, does it protect Gazan civilians and forgo on striking Hamas targets - thus endangering the Israelis whom they are responsible to protect? Since this is a moral dilemma, and Israel is a moral nation, neither of Israel’s choices are good. However, since morality is of no consequence to the Hamas, whatever Israel chooses – dead Israelis or dead Gazans, the Hamas objective is achieved.
Thus, due to this tactic, the world has become accustomed to rockets raining down on Israel, and to expecting Israel to use restraint and absorb terrorist blows. One wonders how much restraint other country’s would show if it was their population on the receiving end of even a slight fraction of this terrorist bombardment.
Knowing what brutality to expect from Hamas, and what criticism to expect from the rest of the world - while at the same time refusing to be made callous toward the death of innocents – Israel has done what no nation has ever done in order to protect civilians on either side.
- She has invested billions of dollars in building shelters for its population (while Hamas has invested all of its concrete into making bunkers for its leaders and tunnels for its terrorists).
- Israel has kept its civilians out of harm’s way, and sent its soldiers ahead to act as a shield between its citizens and the enemy (while Hamas has embedded itself in the local population, fired from school courtyards, stored its weapons in mosques, and established its headquarters under hospitals and inside inhabited homes).
- Israel has used its know-how to develop missiles with pinpoint accuracy to both protect its population from rocket fire and strike only those targets which are truly military assets (while the Hamas has used its knowhow to manufacture blind rockets which are only good for firing at large defenseless targets such as cities).
- Israel has made unprecedented efforts – telephone calls, text messages, leaflets, break-ins to radio shows, warning shots - to personally alert every Gazan civilian in a designated target area to evacuate in order to avoid injury (while Hamas instructs its population to disregard the Israeli warnings and to protect the Hamas military assets with their lives).
In short, in this conflict, Israel is employing its arsenal to protect civilians, while Hamas is employing its civilians to protect its arsenal.
Yet, even in this topsy-turvy world of twisted morality and double standards, where the moral victim of terrorist onslaught is at risk of being made out to be the cold-blooded aggressor, Israel does not lose sight of its ultimate goal, that of living in peace with its neighbors. So, beyond its immediate aims of stopping the rockets and weakening Hamas, the best result of this operation is that the world has been once again reminded - and we must all drive this message home – that if we ever want to achieve a solution to the conflict - the Hamas must be disarmed and must have no leadership role among the Palestinians, and the ill-advised PA-Hamas coalition agreement must be relegated to the dustbin of history.
And when it comes time to get back to peace-making, our neighbors will find us both forgiving but morally strong. The late Prime Minister Golda Meir put it best when she said:
“We can forgive them for killing our children. But we cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace when they love their children more than they hate us.”