My name is Joanna. I hope you are safe, and your family is OK. I have a question, but I understand if you don’t want to answer.
What is your opinion about Israel’s decision to cut electricity, food, and water to Gaza?
I’m sorry if it seems like an offensive question, but reading what you say about not believing everything that the news is saying I would like to hear the opinion of someone Jewish. Of course, everything that happened is awful. I hope you are safe. Wish you a pleasant day.
We very much appreciate your question. It is easy in our day to be too intimidated to ask questions, assuming that anything you say will be taken as offensive or lead to a backlash. We very much believe in honest and open conversation and, depending on what news you are hearing, your question is completely reasonable.
This is no place for an extended answer on the history, background, and details of Gaza. It is important to know that Gaza is not under Israeli control and has not been since 2005 when Israel hoped that it was trading land for peace. What they got instead was a nearby launching site for tens of thousands of missiles and easier access into Israel for terrorists.
In 2006, Hamas won the local elections and have been in charge of the Gaza Strip and West Bank since then. They took a flourishing section of land, destroyed what had been built there by Israelis, and have used it as a public relations card. On October 11th, one of their spokesmen, Ali Baraka, said: “The Israelis are known to love life. We, on the other hand, sacrifice ourselves. We consider our dead to be martyrs.”
Why is Hamas dependent on Israel for water? Because the tens of billions of dollars they receive from the United States, from the United Nations, and from the EU go towards building weapons, not pipes. By now they could easily have been self-sufficient with both electricity and water had they possessed the slightest desire to improve the lives of the citizens of Gaza.
There are many Palestinians who are innocent victims. They have no way to escape Gaza. The other Moslem countries do not want them. Gaza shares a border with Egypt and as you read this it is possible that Egypt will take in some refugees, but Egypt has mostly spurned the Palestinians. Hamas is a terrorist group – no one wants them in their land. But the Palestinians voted for Hamas. Opposing Hamas does mean risking your life and your family’s lives, but Israel cannot be asked to prioritize Palestinian lives over the lives of Israeli citizens.
Hamas deliberately places its weapons caches and its leaders in tunnels underneath hospitals and schools. It then proclaims its martyrs and gets the world’s sympathy when Israel strikes those locations. Israel has traditionally not defended itself to the full extent necessary (eradication of Hamas) partially because it does go out of its way to avoid collateral damage. This has helped to keep Hamas alive.
This war is different. We have no particular inside knowledge, but we think that the barbaric slaughter last week is leading the Israelis to feel that this time they have no choice but to wipe out Hamas. If Hamas prioritizes the slaughter of Jews over the lives of their own people (who they will present as glorious martyrs) then many women and children will die. In the past few days, Hamas could have ended the blockade anytime it wished by sending back the hostages they took, including citizens of numerous countries and babies and the elderly. When they choose not to do this, the blood of their people is on their own heads.
This answer is already long for an Ask the Rabbi question. If we had to conclude with one thought it is a statement from ancient Jewish wisdom that if we are kind when we should be cruel, we will be cruel when we should be kind. Hamas needs to be destroyed. If they trap their people and use them as human shields, which is their modus operandi, Israel cannot agree to commit suicide and be victims of genocide in order to save those Palestinians.
May God have mercy,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
Susan Lapin was interviewed this morning by Carrie on The Carrie Abbott Show. Susan gave a feel of what is really going on in Israel.
The show airs in Seattle, Monday, October 16, from 12:30 – 1:30 PM PT on 820 AM The Word, and on SiriusXM Channel 131 at 4:00pm PT-7:00pm ET.
Learn more about the show or listen to the replay here.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Ask the Rabbi & Susan post.
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Clash of Destiny
The events in Israel over the past few days make it absolutely clear that we are witnessing the latest in a long line of bloody battles between barbarism and civilization. If you have not listened to Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam, we suggest that you do. This fight is not new and the Bible, from Genesis through the Book of Esther, sheds light on what is happening.