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The Jewish Report Editorial

Are Israeli lives not important to the world?

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This week in South Africa, you could be excused for thinking nothing was happening other than our elections. Most news items have been about local politics or related topics.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | May 09, 2019

However, up north in Israel, almost 700 rockets were fired from Gaza. The Iron Dome managed to intercept only about 200 that were likely to have caused the most damage. Imagine how many people would have been killed if there was no Iron Dome?

That was Hamas’s intention. There is no other reason to fire so many rockets into a country the size of Israel unless you want to murder many people. The country was terrorised. Each one of those rockets had the potential to kill dozens.

The rockets landed in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat, and even Rechovot. They hit places that have never been hit before all over the country. Four people were killed, close to 80 were injured, and much property was destroyed.

In our lead story on page 1, you can feel the terror.

Now, I do understand that South African elections take precedence this week, but I haven’t heard so much as a peep from the government about Israel.

I did hear on the radio that there was a cross-border skirmish between Israel and Gaza, and 24 Palestinians were killed.

It’s true that 24 Palestinians were killed, but they were killed when Israel retaliated after being bombarded by hundreds of Hamas rockets.

Talk about the news being skewed! There was no mention of all the rockets that were fired into Israel, nor the dead and wounded on the Israeli side. What does that mean?

Is it that Israeli lives don’t matter here? The fact is that Israel didn’t start this, but killed people in retaliation. Was Israel supposed to ignore the 700 rockets? Which country in the world would do that?

And then, when Israel agrees to a ceasefire despite the damage done, again, not a peep.

I am the first person to say that Israel is not an angel. It is a country with its own problems, like any other country. However, like any country should, it does everything in its power to protect and defend its people. That makes absolute sense to me. How come it doesn’t make sense to the United Nations and the South African government or media?

What will it take for people to accept that Israel has a right to defend and protect its people? It is so obviously a case of different rules for different people.

This time is auspicious for us, not just because of the elections. Last Thursday was Yom HaShoah, when we remember the six million Jews who were obliterated by the Nazis and their pals. We dare not forget what happened to them. We dare not forget what hatred can do.

To me, it is irrational for one group of people to hate another for no real reason other than the fact that they were born into a particular religion. Many people find rational reasons to perpetuate this hatred. For example, seeing a country like Israel – the Jewish state – as evil, and everything it does to protect itself as appalling and demonic.

Then, on Tuesday evening, we commemorated Yom Hazikaron, when we remember all the fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorism.

As most of us know, there is hardly a family in Israel who hasn’t lost a loved one. Can you imagine what that is like? This is a country of people where everyone has lost a loved one in defending the country, or because they weren’t able to keep the enemies out. Knowing this, is it possible to imagine that Israelis don’t want peace? And yet there are so many – particularly in this country – who believe that Israel wants to maintain the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Really?

The problem is how to get out of this situation. It isn’t so simple. When the very people you are meant to discuss peace with are the same people who pay huge pension funds to the families of those who have murdered Jews, it is not an option.

I believe in a two-state solution. I believe in everyone being treated with dignity and the maintenance of human rights. I don’t believe anyone is better or worse than anyone else. But, I am not sure how you can sit across a table and talk peace with individuals who are willing to pay for the death of your people. This is a huge thing to get past before there can be peace.

However, this week, after mourning those we have lost, we celebrate what we have. On Wednesday night and Thursday is Yom Ha’atzmaut, and we celebrate 71 years of an independent Jewish state.

In spite of all the hatred towards Israel in the Middle East, in spite of anti-Semitism, and in spite of many around the world seeing Israel as a pariah state, Israel is hugely successful. It is economically sound and is growing constantly. It is the start-up nation, and it is developing at a rate of knots. It is a country we can be proud of.

However, as South African Jews, we have a lot of work to do to get our own government to understand that Israel is a country that has a right to defend itself and its people, just as we do.

By the time you read this newspaper, the elections will be over, and the die will be cast.

I hope and pray that the government that leads us into the next cycle is one that has morals, integrity, and the interests of all the people at heart.

Shabbat Shalom!

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