Proximity a factor in opinions on Israel-Gaza strife

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By Rabbi Dow Marmur

Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM –The last few days of the rocket barrage from Gaza into Israel’s south is naturally grabbing the headlines here. If you live out of the ever increasing rocket range it’s tempting to say that, after all, Israel hasn’t suffered too much from them. Yes, there have been injuries and damage to property, but nothing comparable to the devastation caused by the IDF in Gaza which to date includes four civilian deaths out of the 26 Palestinians who were killed, many more injured and, of course, a lot of property damage.

Israel’s iron dome has intercepted more than fifty enemy rockets thus preventing much devastation in the more heavily populated areas. As they’re very expensive (almost $100 000 a shot) they’re not deployed everywhere where they may be needed. But we now know that they’re effective, which is good news should Iran fire them direct and not through their proxies in Gaza.

However, if you live in the many towns and settlements close to the Gaza Strip, you don’t share this relatively rosy assessment but are incensed at the government for not doing more to keep everybody safe. You want to know why the suffering of the towns and villages close to Gaza has been tolerated for so long. There’s an outrage at the seeming indifference to the trauma of constantly living under threat of extinction from rockets, of having to sleep in shelters, of having to close schools, etc. etc.

That’s why the public pronouncements of those in power, notably the Prime Minister, try to reassure the citizens that the government will take all measures necessary to protect them. More sober analysts, however, remind us how well-nigh impossible it is to have total success in this kind of warfare. The IDF may be able to limit the impact of the rockets, e.g., by eliminating some of those who launch them in targeted killings of the kind that triggered the current escalation, but total victory is very elusive.

Hence the periodic calls for alternative ways of resolving the dispute. It’s never quite clear how it’s to be done, but moderates call for more intensive negotiations that would lead to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state living in peace with Israel, albeit probably as cold a peace as with Israel’s other neighbors. Others who claim to be realists say that as long as Hamas and its allies are on the scene, with Iran as paymaster, a Palestinian state would be Hamastan and make things infinitely worse.

Both sides have powerful arguments and I’m among those who find it increasingly difficult to hold consistent opinions on the subject. In the meantime, I’m grateful for the security measures that Israel is taking to prevent more terrorism than we already have, even if the price seems rather steep at times.

I was in Holland earlier this week. Flying El Al I was subjected to a lot of checks both at Ben Gurion and in Amsterdam. They were tedious, even invasive and took a very long time. Yet, I’m grateful that they’re there. All of us can also expect more of the same, not only at airports and not only inIsrael but around Jewish institutions all over the world. It’s quite obvious that we’re being targeted and that Iran is the culprit.

In the same way as those who live close to the Gaza border tend to blame the Government of Israel for not being sufficiently tough with the enemy, many who live away from the action tend to blame the same government for being too tough and not sufficiently open to negotiations. I hope that someone has the correct answer.

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Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.  Now dividing his time between Canada and Israel, he may be contacted at [email protected]

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