Tag Archives: Gaza

Op-ed: Solidarity and generosity within Jewish community

| oped@queenscourier.com


In early June three Israeli teenagers were abducted from Gush Etzion never to be seen alive again. Their brutal murders, the incessant rocket attacks by Hamas that followed and the discovery of the underground tunnels from Gaza into Israel have proved once again that terrorism is alive and well. Fortunately, the IDF says the “terror tunnels” have been destroyed and any pending attack on Israel via them in the near future has hopefully been mitigated. Sadly, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Protective Edge in order to protect the democratic liberties Israelis and free people everywhere enjoy. It is unfortunate that as a result of the war many civilians in Gaza lost their lives.

June, July and early August have been extremely difficult for the land and people of Israel. Each day, four million men, women and children experienced some form of attack as over 3,200 rockets were fired at them from Gaza. Thankfully, Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system worked well and brought down many of the missiles, saving many lives in the process.

These past months have nevertheless seen inspiring moments as the global Jewish community has come together like at no other time that I can remember. Jews have displayed wonderful solidarity and generosity for their Israeli brothers and sisters, serving to reinforce the bonds such unity can produce when we realize that what happens in Israel happens to all of us.

I could not be more proud of our donors who showed deep compassion and empathy for our extended Israeli family. We sent out emails, made phone calls, had phone-a-thons, held conference calls with Israeli leaders, took 50 Americans on a solidarity mission to Israel, including members of Jewish National Fund’s future leadership, and asked for monetary support — and JNF donors delivered on every count. Our emergency campaign raised over $4 million dollars and helped to make life safer, calmer and a little bit easier for those under attack.

During the crisis I was on the phone with our partners on the ground in Israel to determine what the needs were and how we could aid. And help we did: we delivered mobile bomb shelters to Israeli communities on the border with Gaza, like Halutza, so families could have a safe place to go when rockets struck; coordinated programs and events for children and families in shelters; kept the JNF Indoor Recreation Center in Sderot open 24/7 to accommodate the daily needs of 1,800 people who needed a safe place to relax and play; brought hundreds of people each day to the northern parts of Israel — the beautiful Galilee — and out of harm’s way; delivered packages to Israeli soldiers; and made sure that the health and well-being of individuals with special needs was well maintained.

What we do at JNF in time of war is very similar to what we do every day. We are not an emergency 911-agency. We have been and always will be the boots on the ground, the organization that builds a better future for the land and people of Israel. It is why we were able to respond to the crisis so quickly and effectively. We did not have to find the people who needed bomb shelters. We knew them. We did not have to find the children who needed respite. They are our children, our extended family. We were part of their lives yesterday and we will be there alongside them tomorrow.

We have a bold vision for Israel’s future and have taken on the challenge to make it a reality.

We take the impossible and make it possible. We are JNF, Your Voice in Israel.



Op-Ed: It’s time we called a spade a spade

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BaySide Chabod Dinner Dance 3/19/06


It is happening all over again.

Hamas-controlled Gaza has been showering Israel with rockets consistently for months without letup.

Israel finally responds with a surgical strike aimed at taking out a Hamas military leader, whose absence will hopefully stay the violence. Hamas responds by intensifying their attacks – this time aimed at population centers such as Tel Aviv, areas that had never experienced this kind of terror.

Rafael (Israel’s very own advanced defense systems company) created the “Iron Dome,” which allows Israel to intercept and destroy 90 percent of rockets launched at it. As we speak, Israel is responding with more surgical strikes attempting with all their power to cripple Hamas’ military capability to attack Israel. A ground invasion of Gaza is on the table, and Israel will decide which way to go.

I have always been a proponent of dialogue and discussion. I believe that people of good faith can come together and resolve even the most complicated issues. However, this is all predicated on the parties involved being honest and forthcoming with their intentions. The facts and realities must be clear to all. Only then, can there be any hope of a common understanding. As long as the facts and truths of what is happening are fuzzied, there is no hope of dealing with, and fixing the problem.

Unfortunately, there are those in the mainstream media who insist on portraying this conflict as the Israelis against the Palestinians. Israel is portrayed as a mighty nation with a mighty army, and the Palestinians are portrayed as mostly poor and innocent civilians who are being brutalized by Israel.

That is categorically a blatant lie and distortion of reality.

This is a conflict where on one side you have a sovereign nation that has gone way beyond the call in attempting any which way possible to secure some kind of peace in the Middle East. On the other side you have Hamas, a group classified by the U.S. and EU as being a terrorist organization. Their agenda is simple – to destroy Israel.

Hamas is the greatest enemy of the Palestinians because they refuse under any circumstances to consider peace with the Jewish State, thus allowing for a peaceful coexistence.

They heartlessly set up their rocket launchers right next to playgrounds and hospitals, knowing that the Israeli counter attack will hurt their own people. It is shocking beyond words how they are brutalizing the very people they claim to represent and defend!

Just imagine if G-d forbid Mexico started shooting rockets into California and Arizona. What would the U.S. do? How would we respond? After 9/11, we went half way around the world to punish those who attacked us. I think everyone knows exactly what the U.S. would do if attacked by their neighbor and it isn’t pretty.

It is crucial that the media and the world at large recognize the truth of this crisis. This is not about the Israelis and Palestinians. Israel has always been ready to sit and talk and try to work things out. This is about a dastardly and cowardly terrorist group bringing havoc to an already unstable area and denying its own people the chance of a lasting peace with their neighbor.

In the words of Colonel Richard Kemp a top British military commander, “The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) did more to safeguard civilians than any army in the history of warfare.”

Israel does everything within its power to focus only on military targets in Gaza.

I believe that once the reality of the situation becomes crystal clear to all observers, and once the world at large, recognizes who wants peace and who is obstructing peace, that will be the first step in procuring a lasting stability and hopefully peace in the region.

Rabbi Yossi Blesofsky is the director of the Chabad of Northeast Queens