Operation Love Israel

Thousands of Philadelphians braved the traffic and cold recently to tell the world they love Israel and would stand by it through its war with Hamas terrorists. The noon rally at Love Park brought out such notables as long-time U.S. Sen. Arlen Spector (R-Pa.) and Daniel Kutner, consul general of Israel for the mid-Atlantic region. These pro-Israel voices were a pleasant change from the anti-Israel sentiment that seems to be overtaking the globe.

Within days of Israel’s December 27, 2008, incursion into Gaza, called Operation Cast Lead, nations and news services around the world demanded the Jewish state use “restraint” and “proportionality” and initiate an immediate cease fire. They accused Israel of genocide and published gory pictures of injured civilians. In Belgium, Austria, Italy, France, and Spain, children paraded around in anti-Israel demonstrations.

Those voices, however, were noticeably silent for the past eight years as Hamas fired 8,600 rockets and mortar shells into the Israeli town of Sderot and the western Negev. They spoke not a word while 950,000 Israelis—one-seventh of the country’s entire population—lived with the constant threat of rockets landing on their schools, homes, and hospitals.

Nor did they speak when Israelis each day heard the scream of sirens telling them they had 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter. They remained silent when Hamas declared, “Our strikes against the enemy are continuing and we will chase the occupation’s soldiers and settlers from every inch of Palestine.”1 For them, Palestine is not merely Gaza, but Judea-Samaria (the “West Bank”) and all of Israel.

Israel issued calls of dayenu (“enough”), but no one listened. Operation Cast Lead began with helicopters dropping leaflets to warn Gaza residents to evacuate certain areas before the surgical air strikes began. Few commended Israel’s restraint.

If Israel were truly as heartless as it is often depicted, why didn’t it merely level all of Gaza and spare injury to its own forces? The reason is simple: Israel looks to remove Hamas, not take land. Disengagement from Gaza in 2005 rendered more than 8,000 Jewish people homeless in order to give Palestinians an opportunity for self-government. But rather than improving life in Gaza, Hamas turned the area into a terrorist camp at the expense of its own people.

About two weeks after Operation Cast Lead began, people who know the truth began to take a public stand in solidarity with Israel. They came with signs that read, “Free Gaza from Hamas!” “Stop using Gaza as a launching pad!” “Israel, we stand with you!” and “Palestinian terrorism hurts Israelis and Palestinians!”

At Love Park, the loudest cheer came as J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, looked around at the many Israeli banners waving in the crowd and proclaimed, “This flag is my flag!”

“The black community,” he said, “and the Jewish community have been joined together for almost 200 years….Israel is not alone. It will never be alone.”2

Standing in the crowd that day, I rejoiced knowing that, by their presence, some people do get it after all.

ENDNOTES
  1. “Hamas Rockets Fall, Israel Eyes Escalation,” May 29, 2008 <sudanvisiondaily.com/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=21669>.
  2. Gail Shister, “Rally offers support for Israel,” January 9, 2009 <philly.com/inquirer/world_us/20090109_Rally_offers_support_for_Israel.html>.

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