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Israel, Hamas, the Holidays and the challenge

With the media ablaze with protests and opinions, I wanted to write an overview of the current situation along with some history and factual information about the current situation Jewish people find themselves in.




Once again, Jewish-American synagogues have become increasingly targeted by threats and acts of violence during the holiday season. This is not a new development as one might believe watching the news channels but rather has been a disturbing trend that is now exploding before our eyes due to the conflict in Israel and the socio-political climate of our own homeland,

This trend of threats has raised concerns among the Jewish community and religious leaders for years as they understandably fear for the safety and well-being of their congregants. The current threat against American synagogues is higher than even before during the current holiday and highlights the alarming rise of anti-Semitic sentiments and the need for increased security measures to protect these sacred spaces. One of the primary reasons for the increased threat against synagogues during the holidays is the rise of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the United States. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hate crimes against


Jews accounted for 60.2% of all anti-religious hate crimes in 2019. It is difficult to believe that this issue has not been covered by news media before! This 2019 statistic marked a 14% increase from the previous year and was the third year in a row that hate crimes against Jews had grown.Moreover, during the holiday season, which includes significant Jewish holidays such as Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah, there is a rise in incidents of threats and attacks against synagogues. In December 2019, during the Hanukkah celebration, a machete-wielding man attacked a rabbi's home in Monsey, New York, during a Hanukkah celebration, injuring five people. This incident sent shock waves through the American Jewish community and exposed the vulnerability of synagogues during the holidays.There is no doubt that the current political climate in the United States has also contributed to the threat against American synagogues during the holidays. The divisive rhetoric and actions of some political leaders have emboldened extremist groups, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis, who have a history of targeting religious minorities, including Jews. Coupled with the new rise in Pro-Palestinian protestors, this has created a breeding ground for hate and violence, making synagogues a prime target for these extremists during the holiday season. In an effort to address this growing issue, Jewish organizations and religious leaders have been working closely with law enforcement agencies and local authorities to enhance security measures and prevent attacks against synagogues. These measures include increasing the presence of law enforcement officers during holiday services, implementing strict security protocols, and conducting training sessions for congregants on how to respond in case of an emergency.Some synagogues have also taken additional measures, such as installing security cameras and hiring professional security personnel, to ensure the safety of their congregants and religious leaders. However, these measures come at a significant cost, and not all synagogues have the resources to implement them, leaving many still vulnerable to potential threats. In addition to synagogues, Jewish community centers and schools have also been targeted during the holiday season, adding to the concern for the safety of Jewish communities in the United States. The rise in threats and incidents of violence has caused fear and anxiety among Jewish families, who may choose to stay away from public celebrations or gatherings, limiting their ability to celebrate their traditions and culture freely.The current threat against American synagogues during the holidays is a disturbing reminder of the pervasive anti-Semitic sentiments and hate that still exists in our society. It is is also revealing a fast-growing wave of professional protestors as Pro-Palestinian protests are being staged by the hundreds but not by any Palestinian organizations!



These protests are being scheduled staged and manipulated by activists from reproductive groups, Black Lives Matter and other activist organizations looking for an excuse to gather on the streets of America and create chaos in the name of defending freedoms.

Let me point out that to remove the destructive and truly evil force of Hamas from Gaza is a Pro-Palestinian action that the Palestinians themselves have not been able to accomplish on their own! There is no distinction being made in these protests between Hamas and Palestine despite there being a major difference!

While I believe law enforcement is doing their best to protect our Jewish community members, I believe it is imperative for the government, law enforcement agencies, and community leaders to take immediate and concrete actions to address this issue and protect the rights and safety of all religious communities.

 Additionally, it is crucial for individuals to speak out against hate and discrimination and promote unity and understanding among all people. Only by standing together can we build a society where everyone can celebrate their traditions and beliefs without fear of persecution or violence.

 

Israel under the gun

 

Here in the United States, one element that I believe is contributing to the threatening environment is “arm-chair quarterback talking heads” that continue to appear at rallies, protests and within the news media outlets claiming that Israel has no real claim to the land they now inhabit.

 

Israel


Israel is a country with a rich and complex history, dating back thousands of years. The land of Israel has been inhabited by various groups and empires throughout its history, including the Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Ottomans. However, it is the Jewish people who have the strongest claim to the land as their ancestral homeland.The origins of the Jewish people in the land of Israel can be traced back to biblical times. According to the Hebrew Bible, God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants as an everlasting possession. This promise was reaffirmed to Abraham's grandson, Jacob, who was later renamed Israel, and his twelve sons, who became the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Israelites, led by Moses, escaped slavery in Egypt and returned to the land of Canaan, which they believed was their promised land.

Of course our liberal friends will not acknowledge that God Himself gave this land to the Israelites, but a lack of belief in the Bible does not negate the longevity of connection to this property by the Israelites. In the centuries that followed, the Israelites established a kingdom in the land of Canaan, with Jerusalem as its capital. However, the kingdom was eventually conquered by the Assyrians and later the Babylonians, who destroyed the First Temple in Jerusalem and exiled the Jewish people to Babylon. The Jewish people were eventually allowed to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple after the Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon.Over the centuries, the land of Israel was ruled by various empires, including the Greeks and Romans. During this time, the Jewish people faced persecution and were eventually expelled from their homeland by the Romans in 70 CE. This event, known as the Diaspora, scattered the Jewish people throughout the world, but they never lost their connection to their ancestral homeland.Despite being dispersed, the Jewish people continued to yearn for their homeland and prayed for their return to Zion. This dream became a reality in 1948 when the State of Israel was established as a Jewish homeland after centuries of persecution and exile. This event marked a significant moment in Jewish history and fulfilled the biblical prophecy of the Jewish people returning to their land. Today, Israel continues to face challenges and conflicts with its neighbors, but its people remain steadfast in their claim to the land. The country has a diverse population, with Jews, Arabs, and other ethnic and religious groups living together. Despite their differences, the people of Israel share a deep connection to their land and a strong sense of national identity.The history of Israel, which is apparently being ignored by so many right now,  is intertwined with the Jewish people's claim to their ancestral homeland. From biblical times to the present day, the Jewish people have maintained a strong connection to the land of Israel, and it remains a crucial aspect of their cultural and religious identity. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was a significant moment in history, fulfilling the Jewish people's dream of returning to their homeland. Today, Israel stands as a symbol of resilience, determination, and a strong connection to the land that has been at the heart of the Jewish people for thousands of years.

 

Why the focus?



The current situation in Israel and the West Bank is one of extreme complexity and tension. For decades, the region has been plagued by conflict, with a long history of violence and bloodshed. The roots of this conflict can be traced back to the establishment of the state of Israel (1948), when many Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes. This displacement, known as the Nakba, has been a source of anger and resentment for Palestinians ever since.The ongoing conflict is fueled by a multitude of factors, including competing claims to the same land, religious differences, and political power struggles. Israel and Palestine both lay claim to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, with each side viewing it as their rightful homeland. This has led to decades of territorial disputes, with both sides engaging in violent acts in an attempt to gain control.The situation is further complicated by the presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These settlements, considered illegal by the international community, are built on land that is claimed by Palestinians. This has resulted in constant friction and clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents, further exacerbating tensions in the region. In addition to territorial disputes, religious differences also play a significant role in the conflict. Jerusalem, a city holy to both Jews and Muslims, is at the heart of the conflict. The Old City of Jerusalem is home to sites sacred to both religions, including the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The status of Jerusalem is a highly contentious issue, with both sides vying for control and refusing to compromise.Political power struggles also contribute to the tense situation in Israel and the West Bank. The Palestinian territories are divided between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-controlled West Bank, with both sides vying for control and legitimacy. This division has led to a lack of cohesive leadership and a fragmented Palestinian society, making it difficult to negotiate a peaceful resolution with Israel.Despite numerous attempts at peace negotiations, the situation in Israel and the West Bank has always remained volatile. The continued expansion of Israeli settlements, the lack of a unified Palestinian leadership, and the ongoing violence on both sides make it difficult to find a path towards lasting peace.    

To make matters worse, the world as a whole became aware of the name “Hamas” two months ago.


The attack


To refresh memories, this current “war” was not started so that Israel could regain the Gaza strip for themselves.

In October, Israel experienced one of the deadliest and most destructive attacks in its history. The attack was carried out by a group of highly trained and well-armed Hamas terrorists, who had been planning and preparing for the attack for months. They infiltrated the country through its borders and launched simultaneous attacks on multiple cities and towns.The first signs of the attack were reported in the early hours of the morning, when explosions and gunfire were heard across the country. The terrorists had strategically targeted key locations such as government buildings, military bases, and popular tourist attractions. The chaos and confusion that ensued were unimaginable as people scrambled to safety and emergency services were overwhelmed.Hamas, who was armed with powerful weapons and explosives, showed no mercy as they ruthlessly attacked innocent civilians. They took hostages and used them as human shields, making it difficult for the Israeli security forces to retaliate without causing harm to innocent lives. The streets were filled with terrified citizens, trying to escape the violence and find shelter wherever they could.The Israeli government quickly declared a state of emergency and called for backup from neighboring countries. The situation became even more dire when it was discovered that the terrorists had also planted bombs in heavily populated areas, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. The country was in a state of shock and disbelief as the death toll continued to rise.The attack lasted for several hours before the Israeli Defense Forces were able to gain control and neutralize the terrorists. However, the damage had already been done. Hundreds of innocent lives had been lost, and the country was left in mourning. The aftermath of the attack was devastating as families searched for their missing loved ones and the injured were rushed to hospitals for treatment.


Hamas



This group “Hamas”, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, is a Palestinian political and militant organization that has been a dominant force in the Palestinian territories since its establishment in 1987,  but as I said, the name became a household word only two months ago when the group attacked Israel.

The roots of Hamas can be traced back to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Islamic organization founded in Egypt in 1928. The Muslim Brotherhood aimed to establish Islamic states in the Arab world and promote a return to traditional Islamic values.

 In the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the Muslim Brotherhood became increasingly involved in the Palestinian struggle, providing support and resources to Palestinian refugees. However, it was not until the 1980s that Hamas emerged as a distinct entity within the Palestinian political landscape. In 1987, following decades of Israeli occupation and oppression, the Palestinian people rose up in a popular uprising known as the First Intifada. This grassroots movement was characterized by civil disobedience, strikes, and demonstrations against the Israeli occupation. It was during this time that Hamas was officially founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian cleric and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Yassin and other Hamas leaders saw the Intifada as an opportunity to mobilize Palestinians and present an alternative to the secular nationalist movement led by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Hamas quickly gained popularity among Palestinians for its uncompromising stance against Israel and its promise to establish an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, including present-day Israel. The group's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, carried out numerous attacks against Israeli targets, including suicide bombings, which contributed to a rise in violence during the Intifada.

In 1993, the Oslo Accords were signed between Israel and the PLO, which established the Palestinian Authority (PA) and recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

This marked a turning point for Hamas, as it rejected the accords and continued to carry out attacks against Israel. The group argued that the agreements did not address the issues of Palestinian self-determination and the right of return for refugees. In 1994, Yassin was arrested by Israeli forces and sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in attacks against Israel.Despite facing repression and internal divisions, Hamas continued to gain support among Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip. In 2005, Israel withdrew its forces and settlers from Gaza, leaving the PA in control of the territory. However, Hamas viewed the withdrawal as a victory for its armed resistance and a sign of weakness on the part of Israel. In the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Hamas won a majority of seats, leading to a brief period of unity between Hamas and the PLO.

However, tensions between the two groups quickly resurfaced, leading to a violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007 and the establishment of a de facto Hamas government in the territory. Since then, Hamas has been in control of the Gaza Strip, while the PA governs the West Bank. The group has continued to carry out attacks against Israel, including firing rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israeli territory. This has led to several military escalations between Israel and Hamas, most notably the 2014 Gaza War, which resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis. Despite facing military and economic blockades by Israel and Egypt, Hamas has maintained a strong presence in Gaza and has even formed alliances with other militant groups. Today, Hamas remains a major player in Palestinian politics and the conflict with Israel. It continues to reject the two-state solution and advocates for armed resistance against the Israeli occupation. The group has also evolved to become a social and political movement, providing social services and participating in elections at the local level. While it remains designated as a terrorist organization by many countries, Hamas continues to garner support from Palestinians and others who see it as a legitimate resistance movement against Israeli occupation.


The challenge


Now, with some history and some current events melted together on a single page, one can see that the situation here in the United States is begining to mimic the problems seen in Israel for many years and the hundreds of current protests taking place here in the United States and destructive. I do not believe that the threats against Jewish people, their synagogues, homes and stores will lessen after the holidays.

While hate speech is against the law, the fine line it shares with freedom of speech has been blurred and ignored so I do not believe we will see a big change in rhetoric over the next few months either.

With all this said, it is time to stand up and be counted. Protestors will don full face masks again tonight and scream their vulgar messages and march in a fals unity but few will show their faces or names.

Stand up today. No mask. On your own social media, not a forum on some hate site. Be recognized. Be counted. Show your support for Israel this holiday season.

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