Earlier today, my granddaughter, Elana Lipkin, wrote me about her concerns about the media’s treatment and threats to Israel in this latest rocket war with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. ‘Lana, as we call her, won a scholarship last summer from her local Jewish Federation to spend five weeks visiting concentration and death camps in the Czech Republic and Poland before spending a month in Israel on a National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) program. ‘Lana is very active at her family temple frequently serving as a cantorial assistant during Friday evening services given her beautiful singing voice recognized in her high school and regional choral assemblies. She is also a talented dancer. We are very proud of her achievements, a credit to her parents and grandparents.
Last summer, we posted on her prize winning essay and poetry after climbing up the snake path to the top of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea. (See thisConnecticut Jewish Ledger article “KOLOT-Passing the Torch”). While in Israel, ‘Lana put in a brief training stint in a GADNA (youth battalion) where she learned firsthand what para-military training Israeli youths go through before entering the IDF. That stint included her familiarization of weapons on a firing range.
The following is an exchange of email between ‘Lana and her Saba (grandfather in Hebrew) that might be used by other concerned supporters of Israel, when their children or grandchildren ask them to explain why this rocket war is happening? Further, it also illustrates what they can do to support Israeli civilians and IDF service personnel, as well as, keep informed of developments in Operation Preventive Edge.
What follows is the exchange of emails between 17 year old ‘Lana and her Saba.
Lana’s email to Saba:
I know it’s fairly early there, but I’m sure you’re up already. The situation in Israel these past few days has really been worrying me. I care about Israel so deeply and it pains me to see it in danger. I am also bothered by the lies the media spreads and the ignorance of those around me regarding what’s actually occurring. I was wondering if you could do two things for me, first of all, I’d love any information you could give to me on the Operation going on right now. Second of all, do you know of anything I could possibly do to help Israel right now?
Thank you so much!
I love you very much and miss you lots, I hope you’re doing well.
Like you I am pained by the bias shown in the media towards the plight of Israel under the daily onslaught of literally hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). These are foreign terrorists groups designated by our State Department and Israel whose charters seek the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza. The PIJ is backed by Iran.
As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “No other country lives under such a threat. Israel will not tolerate the firing of rockets on our cities and towns,” Prime Minister Benjamin Neyanyahu. We have therefore significantly expanded our operations against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza.”
The IDF conducts daily air, naval and artillery attacks against hundreds of target in Gaza to destroy Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets and launching sites while endeavoring to avoid civilian casualties. Yesterday, cousins of mine and friends in Jerusalem were shocked by one of the longer range rockets that fell nearby in Ma’ale Adumim. Most disturbing were the two rockets fired from Lebanon by terrorist group Hezbollah that landed in northern Israel. That event may have caused Israelis in the north to seek safety in bomb shelters as they did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Much of the Hamas and Hezbollah rockets used against Israel are supplied by Iran or manufactured locally. Your cousin’s United Synagogue Youth (USY) tour group may be prevented from traveling on to Israel from Europe as rockets are ranging on Ben Gurion Airport.
Yesterday, I posted an article on Operation Protective Edge– Is Iran Behind Rocket Blitz on Israel?– and will do more in the coming days. Israel may have to make the momentous decision to go into Gaza to destroy the rocket inventories, launching sites and command infrastructure. This is a dangerous phase which could result in significant casualties to both civilians and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, as well as IDF forces and even Israeli civilians.
During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, we wrote extensively about the experience of Zach Rowen – Taylor, a young American lonesome soldier who hailed from California and was among the elite Givati Brigade units that entered urban areas in northern Gaza. We wrote him in a January 4, 2009, Iconoclast post, “A Proud American Mother of an IDF Soldier”. I know as a former US Army officer that fighting in urban areas is grueling, dangerous and unfortunate casualties may mount. But, Israel may have no choice but to do what Zach Rowen-Taylor and his mates in the Givati Brigade had to do in Operation Cast Lead. Perhaps if Israel had stayed in Gaza in 2009, notwithstanding the inauguration of President Obama, it might have achieved victory against these terrorist groups with their arsenal of rockets. However, the reality was that arsenal was replenished by Iran and terrorist groups in the Sinai using smuggling tunnels below the Egyptian Gaza frontier.
Those smuggling tunnels were only closed off when Egypt’s military overthrew its former President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and Hamas supporter, last year. He was replaced by former Defense Minister and now President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. He plugged up those smuggling tunnels preventing more weapons from Iran reaching Hamas and the PIJ and possibly stopping the flight of terrorist leaders from Gaza in the current Israeli Operation Preventive Edge.
Still Hamas and the PIJ have an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Rockets including longer range rockets supplied by Iran before those tunnels were destroyed by Egypt. That means that this could be Israel’s longest war in Gaza, possibly exceeding the 22 days of Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, just 20 months ago. Hamas and the PIJ have positioned launching sites in schools, office buildings, and even residences using its civilians including children as human shields. Israel goes to great limits to avoid civilian causalities sent text message warnings on cells and even aerial missile “knocks” on roofs of suspected targets warning people to flee. Fortunately, those dramatic Israel Iron Dome anti-rocket missile interceptions heading to strikes in population centers knock out terror rockets before they reach their targets. They have a 90% success rate.
Remember, Israel is America’s only reliable and democratic ally in the troubled Middle East. The vast majority of Americans support Israel because we share the same Judeo-Christian values.
For information on groups in Israel treating civilians, you might consult the website of American Friends of Magen David Adom. One of the groups that provide social and other support for IDF soldiers is American Friends of LIBI. You might check out its Facebook page. To keep abreast of developments in Operation Protective Edge, you might look at the Live blog at The Jerusalem Post.
Your commitment to Israel as a young Zionist is both heartfelt and refreshing among your generation of young American Jews. You can act as a spokesperson in your community to provide the EMET- the truth about what Israel is facing. Tonight at Kabbalat Shabbat services pray for the safety of Israel and its defenders the young men and women of the IDF on the frontlines defending this Jewish nation. You met them during your GADNA training last summer in Israel.
I thought the attached graphic sent to me by a colleague and intelligence expert, Ilana Freedman, whose son served in the IDF, might express the feelings of you and countless other Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, who are supporters of Israel -The Eagle and the Flag. Israel. It is the most ancient of Hebrew Prayers, the priestly benediction, as you know it.
Kol Hakavod (Outstanding), Ahava (Much Love) v Shabbat shalom (peaceful sabbath). Am Yisrael Chai! (The People Israel Lives!)
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.