Friday, September 24, 2004

Shabbat Shalom and Gmar Hatima Tov

Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and the most solemn day in the Jewish year, starts at sundown this evening. (As of this writing it has already started in Israel.) For Jews around the world it is a time of fasting, prayer, and repentance. In Israel everything shuts down for Yom Kippur, from television and radio stations, to public transportation, to all non-emergency government services. Most Israeli Jews, even those who normally consider themselves secular, will be in a synagogue for Kol Nidre services tonight.

Sadly, Yom Kippur also means a high alert in Israel as the Palestinians always step up their campaign of terror during the Jewish High Holy Days. This week we have already seen two young Israeli border policemen, age 19 and 20, give their lives to stop a suicide bomber in the heart of Jerusalem, almost certainly saving dozens of lives and scores of injuries. We have seen injuries as Qassam rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza strip struck a school and a private home in Sderot, in Israel proper. Tiferet Trantner, a 24 woman was killed this morning in Neve Dekalim in Gaza, when mortars slammed into her home. She was a civillian, not a soldier, and her settlement, really a thoroughly modern town, is scheduled for unilateral withdrawal next year.

Of course, Israeli withdrawal and an end to occupation doesn't matter to the terrorists. Nothing short of the destruction of Israel will do. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, in hiding in Gaza, is quoted:

"The fact is that Palestine, all of Palestine, belongs to the Muslims. Any temporary plan that refers only to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem does not negate our absolute right to all of Palestine."

The sad fact remains that the 84 year old war between Israel and the Arabs is, was, and always has been about the expulsion or extermination of the Jewish people. It seems to me that peace with people who will accept no compromise and only want to be able to commit genocide and wipe out a nation is not a possibility. Despite this President Bush, together with the U.N., keep insisting that Israel make concessions prior to the Palestinians taking even one step to end terror attacks. Of course, asking terrorists to stop terrorism is a bit ridiculous. Would President Bush be willing to make unilateral concessions to al-Qaida in the hope that it might promote peace? I think not.

There is also a long tradition of attacking on the holiest day of the Jewish year. In 1973 all of Israel's neighbors thought Yom Kippur the perfect day to launch a war when Israel would be in prayer. Memorials to those who gave their lives 31 years ago to prevent the destruction of the Jewish state are also being held today.

Elsewhere around the world those who hate the Jewish people see the High Holy Days as a time to vent their anti-Semitism. In Ostrava, Czech Republic a Holocaust memorial was vandalized this week. Addressing the worldwide rise in anti-Semitism and the United Nations' perpetual one-sided and totally biased condemnations of Israel, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called on the world body:

" address the growth of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and intolerance."

On Thursday he called on the General Assembly to "refocus its priorities":

"I call on this assembly to end its obsession with Israel and to ensure that UN resources are allocated more equally and more effectively. We must not let the Palestinian desire to vilify Israel distract our global community from the obligation to address the needs of all peoples."

I fear his plea fell on deaf ears. Israel and the Jewish people have few friends in this world. In this time of reflection I ask that all of Israel's friends and supporters think about how we can better defend Israel and insure her continued existence.

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and Gmar Hatima Tov, a greeting for the Sabbath and an easy fast on this Yom Kippur.

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