By Harry Salter, Rosh Nivchar 5778
Over the past week, I was privileged to be in Israel for Yom Yerushalyim for the third year running. From davening at the Kotel with thousands of people, to dancing through the streets of Yerushalyim, proudly waving the Israeli flag and finally ending up at the Kotel for mass celebrations.
The sense of togetherness showed the true meaning of “ומי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ” “And who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on earth” (Divrei HaYamim 1:17).
For the past six-weeks, a campaign organised by Hamas was launched on the Gaza border, infiltrating into our land. During this protest, pictures emerged of these rioters with Swastikas on flag poles, protesters throwing stones and Molotov Cocktails at the IDF, burning tires and dispatching fire kites towards Israeli fields. This was not a campaign for freedom, this was a demonstration to destroy Israel.
On Monday 14th May, the United States opened their embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Exactly 70 years since President Harry Truman recognised the State of Israel a historic moment occurred in Jerusalem. The Leader of the Free World supported Israel and recognised our eternal and everlasting capital. But whilst dignitaries were celebrating this momentous and happy occasion, protesters were again breaking down the fence into Israel, armed with Molotov cocktails, guns, stones and knives.
Do not be fooled by people who say that the embassy move was the reason for the protests. The protests had been organised and started six-weeks previously by Hamas.
Hamas stated that the goal of the protests was to breach the border fence and cross into Israel. Prior to and during these protests, Israel repeatedly warned of consequences to anyone who crossed the border, with the primary focus on protecting their citizens. Israel has the right to protect their people, just as every other nation does. Israel has the right and the obligation to stop terrorists, who put the lives of her citizens at risk, from entering the country.
If Israel would have allowed Hamas to breach the border successfully, what do you think would have happened next?
On Tuesday, I decided to watch the Urgent Question tabled in the House of Commons. I felt disgusted by the lies spewed by politicians, saying these protesters were “unarmed and peaceful.” I found myself screaming at the TV after every question and statement. How can the representative body of the British public blatantly lie and get away with it?
It was then when I saw the statement from the Board of Deputies, supporting the actions taken by the Israeli Defence Force, calling for Hamas to offer a better future to the people of Gaza and turn to a path of peace. I was delighted by this statement, a real support for the actions taken by the Israeli government. But what happened next was the turning point for me, sending me into a state of despair and dismay.
I was told to watch a video, distributed by the Israel Advocacy Movement, of Jewish people joining outside Parliament to say Kaddish for terrorists of Hamas. I watched in disbelief and amazement as these people read the names of each person killed, and finally recited Kaddish.
Not only are they wrongly using the Kaddish prayer, they are misusing it as well. Throughout the prayer of Kaddish, we magnify and sanctify G-d’s name. This prayer should not be used for terrorists who wish to kill, destroy and annihilate Jews in their home. At the time of writing, 50 of the 60 who were killed were active members of the terrorist group Hamas, making that 83% of those who were killed part of a terrorist group.
83% of the 60 people were active members of the terrorist group. In a crowd of 40,000 people, this shows that these strikes were calculated and controlled. I deplore any loss of innocent human life and pray for all civilians’ safety and wellbeing.
In a time when the truth is no longer the truth, the British Religious Zionist community must stand up publicly and support Israel and it’s right to protect their land. We must be proud of the State of Israel and continue to defend it when it has to defend itself. Our brave soldiers, men and women, who put their lives at risk on the borders should be applauded and supported in their efforts to stop these terrorists. We must come together, not to say Kaddish for terrorists and not to criticise Israel for defending its borders, but in support of Israel.
It is easy to stand against Israel, just as any democratic state can be called out when they do wrong. But Israel is at war. And it needs our support.
May we continue to be the unique nation who stand united in our support for Israel.