I am concerned, troubled and pained by the recent events connected with the flotilla to Gaza: concerned, because moderate voices have become scarcer; troubled – because extremist positions are gaining momentum; and pained because of our silence as a community. This is true not only of the current Mideastsituation, but also of other events of our day, the immigration issue being just one. These are also Jewish concerns, and there is a Jewish perspective on how to approach the issues of our times, even if we don’t agree on the best course of action in addressing the challenges. Your opinions are no more or less valid than mine. But, as I have addressed from the bimah, in a nutshell, the Jewish perspective is about holiness as an every day, every encounter practice; it’s about understanding how connected we all are, even if that is not what is evident on the surface; it’s about making decisions, not from a place of fear, but from ration and heart.
The recent events in Gaza have prompted the expected vitriolic speeches from both the right and the left, making it often difficult for to hear the more tempered voices and engage in reasonable dialogue (please see the editorial in today’s Arizona Republic).
It’s time to better educate ourselves and it’s time to speak up. We’ve been too quiet, too busy, too comfortable. The world is changing. If our voices and pens (computers?) continue to be silent and we continue with business as usual, expecting someone else to speak for us, it will come at a price that we cannot afford. It’s time for new conversation, both internally and externally.
Below and attached is information from various resources, summarized, so as not to be too overwhelming. Please take a few minutes to review the talking points from Mark Regev (below) and especially, the article (attached) from Rabbi Donniel Hartman.
Talking Points from Mark Regev, Spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
1. There were six boats in the flotilla; five were boarded without incident
2. The Mavi Marmara was filled with hard-core activists who were looking for a fight
3. This mission was not about humanitarian aid but about breaking the blockade
4. Egypt and Israel offered to have the boats dock in their ports to transport the supplies to Gaza
5. Both Israeli and Egyptian offers were refused
6. International allies of Hamas use any and all opportunities to transport weapons into Gaza, necessitating Israel’s insistence for a naval blockade as well as strict cargo inspections
7. The naval blockade is a matter of life and death for Israel and is in compliance with international law
8. Regev thanked the U. S. for its show of support at the United Nations
Other important facts:
The provocateurs were organized by an Islamist organization that has links to fundamentalist jihadi groups. The extremists brought small children on board knowing that they intended to violate international maritime law.
The activists were carrying 10,000 tons of what they said was aid. Israel transfers about 15,000 tons of supplies and humanitarian aid every week to the people of Gaza. Israel has said that it will deliver any humanitarian aid to Gaza, as it does daily. I personally know of people who are involved with this.
“We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation or threats of violence against us, they are going to have to forcefully stop us,” said one of the flotilla’s organizers. Using the Arabic term ‘intifada,’ Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said “We call on all Arabs and Muslims to rise up in front of Zionist embassies across the whole world. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said this week: “If the ships reach Gaza it is a victory; if they are intercepted, it will be a victory too.”
Israel left Gaza in hopes of peace in 2005 and in return received more than 10,000 rockets and terrorist attacks.
No country would allow illegal entry of any vessel into their waters without a security check.
Earlier this week, Noam Shalit, father of Hamas-held Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, approached the flotilla’s organizers asking them to take supplies to Gilad. He was refused.
Below are more background articles, press releases, videos, and statements from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Hadassah, and The Israel Project.
From the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations:
Flotilla Organizers Responsible for Tragic Events: Refused Peaceful Option and Deliberately Chose Confrontation
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein released the above statement.
From The Israel Project:
Netanyahu Cancels U.S. Trip in Wake of Pre-Meditated Attack on Israeli Soldiers
UN Security Council Meeting to Discuss Incident
TIP Press Release, May 31, 2010
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday (May 31) he has canceled his planned visit to the United States to meet with President Obama at the White House Tuesday following a planned attack on Israeli soldiers by weapons-wielding protesters illegally entering Israeli waters.
Close-Up Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Attacking IDF Soldiers
Video footage from idfnadesk, the Israeli Defense Forces’ YouTube Channel, May 31, 2010
Video taken by IDF naval boat shows the passengers of the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships in the ‘Free Gaza’ Flotilla, violently attacking IDF soldiers who were trying to board the ship after having sent repeated requests for the boat to change course.
Videos of tragic incident off the coast of Israel
TIP will continue to monitor the situation and upload new royalty-free footage to our video player as new content is available.
MEMRI TV Clips on the Gaza Flotilla: Activists On Board Chant Songs of Martyrdom at Departure
Gaza flotilla participants created war atmosphere before confronting Israel
Participants chanted Islamic battle cry invoking killing of Jews and called for Martyrdom
Article by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, May 31, 2010
On the day before the Gaza flotilla confronted the Israeli navy, Al-Jazeera TV documented the pre-battle atmosphere created by men on board the flotilla, who chanted a well-known Islamic battle cry invoking the killing and defeat of Jews in battle: “[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”
Statement from Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriella Shalev
The Security Council is convened this afternoon following the serious event that took place today early morning local time, when a convoy of six ships attempted to break the maritime blockage off the cost of Gaza.[Read More]
The Gaza flotilla and the maritime blockade of Gaza – Legal background
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 31, 2010
A maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza. It has been imposed, as Israel is currently in a state of armed conflict with the Hamas regime that controls Gaza. [Read More]
Behind the Headlines: The Israeli humanitarian lifeline to Gaza
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 25, 2010
Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months equaling nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza. Millions of dollars worth of international food aid continually flows through the Israeli humanitarian apparatus, ensuring that there is no food shortage inGaza.
Protesters Attack with Guns and Knives, Israel Regrets 10 Dead
Injured Evacuated to Israeli Hospitals
TIP Press Release, May 31, 2010
Israel?s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in a press conference on Monday (May 31) regarding the Turkish-led flotilla that: “The armada of hate and violence in support of Hamas terror organization was a premeditated and outrageous provocation.
Group with Terrorist Ties Attempts to Deliver Supplies to Gaza, Refuses to Deliver Letter to Captive Israeli Soldier
TIP Press Release, May 28, 2010
A flotilla of pro-Palestinian demonstrators with links to terrorist groups is en route to the Gaza Strip in defiance of Israeli government requests to deliver their shipment through legal channels.
IDF forces met with pre-planned violence when attempting to board flotilla
Previously, Israel Navy warned the flotilla that the Gaza region is closed to maritime traffic.
May 31, 2010
Early this morning (31 May), IDF naval forces intercepted six ships attempting to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israel Navy that were issued prior to the action.
Behind the Headlines: The seizure of the Gaza flotilla
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 31, 2010
Despite attacks by Hamas, Israel maintains an ongoing humanitarian corridor for the transfer of food and humanitarian supplies to Gaza, used by internationally recognized organizations including the United Nations and the Red Cross.
The Flotilla to the Gaza Strip ? Update
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) Press Release, May 30, 2010
As of the afternoon of May 30, five ships were located near Cyprus and had not yet set sail for the Gaza Strip. The sixth boat, Challenger II, which belongs to the Free Gaza flotilla and carries 14 members of European parliaments, was expected to join the five ships between Cyprus and Gaza.
Flotilla YouTube Videos from Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
More Flotilla YouTube Videos:
- True Human Rights Activists don’t hug Vicious HR Violators
Posted by user MHLE2010, May 27, 2010
- BBC Footage posted by user LetsFreeGaza, May 31, 2010
3. A brutal ambush at sea
Article by Ron Ben-Yishai, May 31, 2010
Ron Ben Yishai recounts bloody clash aboard Gaza-bound vessel: The lacking crowd-dispersal means, the brutal violence of “peace activists”, and the attempt to bring down an IDF helicopter.
E-mail, Facebook or Twitter our elected representatives. Following is a template:
Dear Senator or Congressperson:
The United States and Israel have been strong allies and partners for decades. In light of the recent altercation that took place off Gaza’s coast on Monday May 31, 2010, Israel needs the United States’ continued support now more than ever.
While the specifics of this situation are still coming to light, this much is clear:
- This mission was not about humanitarian aid but about breaking the blockade.
- Both Egypt and Israel both offered to have the boats dock in their ports to transport the supplies toGaza, but were refused.
- International allies of Hamas use any and all opportunities to transport weapons into Gaza, necessitating Israel’s insistence for a naval blockade as well as strict cargo inspections.
- The naval blockade is a matter of life and death for Israel and is in compliance with international law.
I am a member of your district who values the freedom, liberty and safety of living in America. The people ofIsrael deserve that same security. I appreciate your continued support for Israel.
A quick note from Rabbi:
The activists were carrying a total of 10,000 tons of reported aid to Gaza. Israel provides 15,000 tons of aid weekly to Gaza!