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Day 116: Iron Swords War

By Leah Garber

In the Western world, basic human rights are sacred and educating children to be tolerant and preserve human life are of supreme value. In a world where hospitals are meant to treat the sick, prayer houses are meant for prayer, and kindergartens for children, the images coming from Gaza in recent days are shocking but, unfortunately, not surprising.

Israeli soldiers are documenting their activities in the Gaza Strip, and the revelations are horrifying—weapons caches inside schools, terrorist tunnel entrances in mosques and clinics, booby-trapped spaces within kindergartens, and “Mein Kampf” and other Nazi propaganda in classrooms. Unfortunately, none of these revelations is new. Over the years, the Israeli army has alerted relevant officials worldwide of Hamas’s use of their own population in Gaza as human shields. They hide behind children, the sick, and other civilians, ready at any moment to sacrifice their own people to ensure the terrorists themselves are not harmed.

Sarcasm knows no bounds. Hamas not only exploits innocent civilians and uses them as cannon fodder, but also misuses resources meant for the welfare of their own people. For years, Hamas intercepted funds from various countries that were intended to rebuild Gaza and rehabilitate civil infrastructures and instead used them for arming terrorist infrastructures and building an underground terrorist city that stretches over hundreds of miles.

But the long tongue of the poisonous snake also appropriates resources from the United Nations that are intended to benefit the residents of Gaza.

Some employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), whose salaries are paid by the U.N., took part in Hamas activities through the years, most recently on October 7. According to reports, they helped ensure that weapons could be hidden inside UNRWA facilities, including in the schools, kindergartens, and hospitals they were overseeing. Other UNRWA employees were terrorists for all intents and purposes, taking an active part in the October 7 massacre.

As a reminder, UNRWA, an international relief agency largely dominated by the United States but representing 44 nations, was established to provide humanitarian aid and support to innocent civilians, not to support terror and enable killing. Considering this evidence proving the active involvement of UNRWA employees, nine countries, led by the United States and Canada immediately suspended their funding for UNRWA. It is important to note that these latest findings were preceded by years in which Israel presented hard evidence proving these accusations were part of UNRWA’s operations—all of which was ignored by the U.N.

Although the world is now aware of what we knew all along, in an unusual protest in the Gaza landscape, some Gazans dared to rise up against Hamas—against those who created the horrible reality they are subjected to—to call for Hamas’s dismissal. These residents apparently have nothing to lose if they dare to wave signs openly against Hamas, cry for the release of the Israeli hostages, and demand an end to the war so they can return to their homes.

This painful war has many fronts. One is the antisemitism front that you face every day. Another is the global public opinion we all face. Unfortunately, over the weekend, the opinion of the majority of court judges at The Hague was swayed, and instead of rejecting the accusations against Israel outright and denouncing anyone who tries to rob us of the right to defend ourselves and bring home the 136 hostages, they will convene to discuss seriously the horrible false petitions.

The world is against us, and not from yesterday nor from the day before yesterday. The Torah commentators have already written: “It is known that Esau hated Jacob” (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Genesis 33:4). But it is our duty to stand firm in the face of the outburst of antisemitism and to denounce those who spread lies and distortions—most of which are based on political or economic interests while others are based on embarrassing ignorance.

Many people ask me “How can I help?”

This is how: We all have an important role to play in this war against anti-Israel and antisemitic allegations. We were all deployed to this ongoing battle for consciousness. The more we share the truth with acquaintances, colleagues, and others, the more likely it somehow will penetrate the very dark skies. It is critical that we repeat, again and again, the proven statement that Israel has been acting throughout the last 116 days in accordance with international law. That Israel has allowed tens of thousands of humanitarian aid trucks to reach Gaza, and much of the aid was violently taken from the residents by Hamas terrorists. That the hypocritical Hamas terrorists and their leaders terribly exploit their own people and their supporters in the world. We must share these truths, again and again, far and wide.

The war against ignorance is almost futile. Fools and ignoramuses are not objects of knowledge or education. Instead, they boast of quotes and slogans they do not understand, shouting them at the top of their lungs in city squares. Our duty is not to give up and to keep fighting.

The fight against economic and political interests is also almost hopeless. Who can stand up to massive capital transferred from Arab countries to support academic institutions? Who can afford to give up electoral votes that support Hamas and endanger their political stability?

Yet, we are armed with our determination, belief in the rightness of our way, perseverance, and adherence to our moral truth. These are the weapons with which we fight. To win this battle, we must harness our eternal values that are the benchmarks of Jewish morality and justice.

The road is long and difficult, and no one promised us a garden of roses. Twenty-five hundred years ago, the prophet Jeremiah said:

Go proclaim to Jerusalem: Thus said God:
I accounted to your favor
The devotion of your youth,
Your love as a bride—
How you followed Me in the wilderness,
In a land not sown.
Jeremiah 2:2

Indeed, more than ever, on October 7, amid Israel’s 75th anniversary year, the fields plowed and sown with the love of kibbutzim farmers, were desecrated. Now the land is not sown, and we are lost in the desert, looking for healing and reunification.

The pain of bereavement together with our longing and concern for the hostages is unbearable, but we are more determined than ever to defeat evil—the cruelty of our enemies’ evil and the wickedness in the hearts of their supporters around the world.

Together, united, we will overcome.

Leah Garber is a senior vice president of JCC Association of North America and director of its Center for Israel Engagement in Jerusalem.

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