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Posted on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 7 a.m.

Why Israel Deserves Our Support

By David Shtulman


Hamas rockets fired from the midst of civilian populations

Photo by AP

As most of us slept soundly in our beds in Ann Arbor this past week, millions of Israelis passed the hours of darkness in fear, dozing with one ear open for the all too familiar blare of an air raid siren. And when those warnings did sound, they offered only 15 to 30 seconds to take cover. Fifteen seconds. In other words, the time it roughly will take you to finish reading this paragraph.

Their danger is imminent. In the first 24 hours of Operation: Pillar of Defense, over 200 rockets were fired at Southern Israel from Gaza. That number rose to more than 600 in just six days, shuttering schools and offices, essentially shutting down life in the region. And while the idea of any country tolerating indiscriminate rocket fire from outside its borders is astounding, this trend is, sadly, far from new. Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, over 13,000 mortars and rockets have been fired on its towns and cities, with more than 1,900 this year alone. These weapons have also steadily increased in range and sophistication in large measure because Hamas is actively aided by Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. To put it plainly, Israelis have been living in a state of terror for far too long.

No government should, or would, accept a situation where nearly a fifth of its citizens - over one million people -- live under a constant threat of fire. That is exactly the reason why Israel’s Defense Forces pushed forward with Operation: Pillar of Defense, to target terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, while seeking to minimize casualties among non-combatants. For, just like any other country, Israel has the inalienable right -indeed the obligation -- to defend its citizens from attack. Yet, inexplicably, some still question it.

This leads us to pose the following questions ourselves: If Hamas has the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, why do they engage in terrorism that is only counterproductive to peace? Why smuggle thousands of rockets and missiles into Gaza and deliberately place them in civilian homes, schools and hospitals, putting their own residents at risk? And why, despite total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza seven years ago, does Hamas leadership remain focused on targeting innocent Israelis, instead of building a peaceful future for their own citizens?

The answer is simple. Hamas targets Israel because it refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist as the democratic nation state of the Jewish people. Fortunately, Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, developed with the assistance of the United States, was able to intercept many rockets, but it can’t prevent all from hitting their intended targets. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, were forced to take cover in shelters as far north as Tel Aviv, a city last hit in 1991 Gulf War. Or even Jerusalem, which hasn’t seen a rocket since 1970, yet was scrambling for safety after Hamas launched an Iranian Fajr-5 missile within city limits. Luckily the attack claimed no casualties, yet demonstrates Hamas’ willingness to indiscriminately fire on a city that is holy to Islam and Christianity, as well as Judaism, and home to so many Muslims and Christians.

Ultimately, rocket fire from Gaza not only poses a threat to the safety of all peoples, it also makes it infinitely more difficult to move toward a just and lasting peace arrived at through a negotiated two-state solution. The Israeli people have long shown their willingness to make difficult sacrifices and territorial compromises to end the conflict. Yet for Israelis and Palestinians to live safely side-by-side the rocket fire from Gaza must cease.

We profoundly regret the loss of life and injuries suffered on both sides. Let us hope that the ceasefire holds and the bloodshed ends. We support a two-state solution, like the Obama Administration, the Quartet, and the Netanyahu government, but this can only be achieved through bilateral negotiations rather than armed resistance or unilateral declarations at the UN.

David Shtulman is the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor.


Bill Wilson

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

Excellent post by Mr. Herskovitz! If people would take the time to research what actually occurred since 1947, Israel would not get away with pulling the wool over our eyes. Thank goodness for freedom fighters such as Mr. Herskovitz, who demonstrate daily that one does not need to resort to violence in response to violence.

Bill Wilson

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

You might want to read David Ben-Gurion's books. In them, he openly admits that Israel employed a strategy of leveling the existing homes and villages, thus mooting the 'right of return': no house, no return. This also made it difficult to prove ownership of the land. Despite this, nearly one-million people chose not to fight, and fled in the face of war. Many of these refugees and their descendants are current residents of Gaza, and still choose peace over war. The fact that their human rights continue to be violated is an outrage.


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

UN offered a plan to divide the area. The Arab stakeholders rejected it . Israel carved their country out of the middle. Both sides have been fighting over it ever since. The Arab tactic of boycotting involvement in the attempt to settle the issue in 1947 did not work out well for them. In individual countries they continue the boycott tactic in their own elections. That is also not working out for them.


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 3:41 a.m.

David: You posted positively on the recent article on Chuck Warpehoski's first day on City Council and the citation disapproving of the Temple Beth Israel vigils, however Chuck has been critical in the past of the Israeli blockade and those who protested against Hamas. The January 8, 2009 edition of the Michigan Daily contained an article covering Chuck's leadership of a demonstration against the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza that garnered 175 demonstrators and some counter-demonstrators. Chuck was quoted: "We want to see a ceasefire and we want to see humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza." Chuck also authored an Arbor Update article dated January 7, 2009 entitled "Ceasefire Vigil on Thursday" containing a thread in which Chuck was quoted: "In addition to the 175 pro-cease-fire people, there were two groups of counter-demonstrators; one that is anti-Israel and the other that is anti-Hamas. You can see photos of both groups of counter-protestors in coverage by the Daily. In general, I think that the vigil had the right message if the extremists and hard-liners on both sides decided to protest it. The hard-liners politics of polarization hasn't brought peace to the Middle East and is not a recipe fro co-existence." Hamas is the popularly-elected representative of the Gazan people and Israeli attempts to blockade Gaza from the outside world over Hamas rule is not consonant with international law. Chuck has been correct in criticizing those who would protest against either Hamas or Israel as such protest tends to polarize rather than promote peaceful co-existence. I support a direct peace dialogue between Israel and Hamas - as has former Israel defense minister Amir Peretz - and a lifting of the naval blockade of Gaza.

Henry Herskovitz

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

Mr. Shtulman dances around the core issue when he writes: "Hamas targets Israel because it refuses to accept Israel's right to exist as the democratic nation state of the Jewish people." Benjamin Netanyahyu demands that Palestinians recognize the right of "Israel" to exist as a Jewish state, and I know of no Palestinian who accepts and supports this "right". I certainly cannot see the "right" of one group of people to invade, disposess and expel another, and join my Palestinian friends in their rejection of the PM's demand. White supremacism was a common term to describe the racist Apartheid state of South Africa, and Jewish supremacism is an accurate phrase that identifies "Israel's" Apartheid nature. The world has rejected White rule; it will hopefully reject Jewish rule as well.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 10:53 p.m.

David, you should disclose you are also a former Israeli settler and officer in the Israel Defense Forces. If you have read and cited the reports of Israel's own Kahane and Winograd Commission reports that were highly critical of the Israeli military's behavior in Lebanon and the 462-page United Nations Goldstone Commission Report that found credible proof of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Israel in Operation Cast Lead your conclusions might have been different. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has recognized that Hamas is the popularly-elected representative of the Gazan people, whether Israel or yourself likes it or not, and that the IDF naval blockade which chokes the Gazan economy violates international law and results in Gazan rockets being fired at Israel. It was IDF military adventurism in Lebanon that gave rise to Hezbollah as a powerful player in Lebanese politics. It was the IDF's occupation of Gaza in 1967 and Israel's defiance of UN Resolution 242 to vacate the Occupied Territories that led to hundreds of Gazan youths taking to the streets in 1987 and pelting IDF soldiers with stones in running street battles during the First Intifada; it was this continued Israeli defiance that led to Hamas and Islamic Jihad flourishing within Gaza. The Second Intifada ended after PM Sharon ordered an Arab prisoner release of several hundred to the West Bank and an IDF disengagement from Gaza. The Christian and Islamic Palestinian-American communities of Metro Detroit stand united in their criticism of Israeli positions and conduct and thank Ann Arbor residents Chuck Warpehoski and Henry Herskovitz for their efforts in publicizing these odious policies of the Israeli government.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

Yes, Israel needs US support ("deserves" is the wrong word, because the Paletinians also deserve our support). What should that support be? More weapons? More financial backing for illegal settlements? Support for more walls being erected? No, the US needs to be Israel's friend by being a neutral and honest broker of peace. Peace was made with Egypt and Jordan and can be made with Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians. It is incumbent on Israel, and as their friend here in the US, to point out that they can't hide behind the US forever. Eventually (whether it is 10, 20, or 50 years from now) one of their neighbors will have nuclear weapons. Sooner than that, Hamas will have missiles that are more accurate and could saturate any "iron dome" defense. Israelis and Arabs must find a way to live together or they will all die together. It is not all Israel's fault and not all the Palestinian's fault for the impasse. Neither side wants to be bombed or blown up. Peace takes courage and that courage is needed now.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 10:39 a.m.

Sorry. Israel is on its own now. The International Energy Agency has claimed the to be largest oil exporter in coming years. If that is true (energy maybe but not oil- or is Snyder going to invade Canada?) then impoverished Saudia Arabia will be ripped dry, impoverished Iraq has more oil than anyone so that says the country is expected to soon become disfunctionalas well. Iran has some oil and is pursuing nukes. Israel has nukes. Obama has just turned down suggestions to make the region nuclear-free. So Iran will arm themselves and likelybe attacked by Israel inviting antoher mass " exodus". Where? Without any strategic interest in China/India's backyard the United States might rather foster relations with the remaining terrorist organizations to keep Asia subdued. Israel made those beds under attack. Nobody else did.

Albert Howard

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

AIPAC claims to be Pro-Israel. AIPAC wants a Two-State Solution. The One-State Solution is a covenant promise. Jerusalem is my favorite city!


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 3:58 a.m.

Albert: Having a one-state solution means granting citizenship and voting rights to all Arabs in the Occupied Territories - which would mean that Israel loses its character as a Jewish state as upwards of 45% of all such citizens would be Arab. A one-state solution is discussed favorably in the platform of the U.S. Green Party.

Middle America

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 6:16 a.m.

You should move there.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

I SUPPORT ISRAEL : When I support Israel, I would not place myself in a camp that may hate Muslims or Palestinians. I am particularly fond of Iran as it calls itself an 'ARYAN' nation. I love Persian language and poetry. I have not studied the language but I know it for it had influenced Indian languages and the synthesis has produced an Indian language called 'URDU'. For my entertainment, I listen to lyrics called 'Ghazals' which are often inspired by thoughts, moods, and feelings expressed in Persian language. Several thousands of Iranians had migrated to India and they had ruled us in the past. Shia Islam had arrived in India because of our Persian rulers. Persian was the court language for centuries under the Moghul emperors who ruled over India before the British established the Colonial Rule. While I maintain very friendly relationships with Muslims, I strongly support the existence of Israel and defend its existence by use of military force.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

"Israelis have been living in a state of terror for far too long"....yes, but at least they have access to bomb shelters, and air raid sirens to warn them of potential attacks, and an "iron dome" to prevent 9 of 10 missiles from hitting the ground. With all due respect to the Israelis, all of the Palestinian men, women & children who don't have the security of shelters, sirens or "domes", are living in a very different state of terror. No innocents on either side should have to live in constant fear. We should show compassion for anyone trying to survive under such terrifying conditions.

Beth Mayhand

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Israel will not have and does not deserve peac, no one is worthy of peace. God is doing to the Jews the same thing that THEY did to His son........................tortured and murdered Jesus, refusing to accept Him. The turmoil that is going on is purposely caused by God! Neither side is right or righteous...............but both fulfill the word of God. Wont be long before Jews are run completely out of Jerusalem, leaving it desolate just as God has promised. Daniel and Ezekiel spoke of this, as well as Moses. These are not my words..................but what those that are the Lord's have warned of since time began. We need to wake up. No religion is accepted by God.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

EVERYONE IS WORTHY OF PEACE. take your hatred somewhere else!!!


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Difficult situation. Several different groups lived in the same land for hundreds of years. One group decided that land should be exclusively theirs. They were able to organize in an effective way to try to make that happen. The groups could not organize beyond the level of families or tribes and were not effective. The United Nations offered a program that divided that land up among the groups. Several groups rejected it and one group said fine we will take what we want for ourselves. Since that time they have had to defend it. The right to exist as a nation is predicated on the ability to defend it. No easy answer. The United States involvement is this or any foreign affair should be guided by what is in the US best interest. That could be defined by security,financial , moral or philosophical issues. We should not be dragged into something that is not in our best interest

Thom in Ann Arbor

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

This particular strip of land has been fought over for millenia. One side claims, "God promised this land to us." The other side claims, "We lived on this land for many centuries: Before, during, and in between the times the Jewish nation state was here." This dispute will not be settled until both sides give up their historic and religious claims and come together as simple human beings and work out an equitable way to occupy the land jointly.

Tom Todd

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

I have never agreed with Nolan Finley until he said maybe it's time to use the red button.

Silly Sally

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

All of this would be a moot point if Israel had done what other nations had done after winning a war, occupy the newly won land and kick out the people. The USSR did this to Germans in East Prussia in 1945 –1946, displacing millions whose families had lived there for centuries. Not a word was said, then, or now. It was wrong, but Israel, by being nice and not doing it has kept a thorn in its side for the past 45 years. If all Egyptians from Gaza had been sent across the Suez Canal and Jordanians eastwards across the Jordan River, the so-called Palestinian cause would not exist. If Israel were to go even further and embrace a Palestinian state, with no blockade, Iran would arm it to the teeth and Israel's "friendly" neighbors would threaten it militarily.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Maybe the city coucil should pass a resolution supporting Israel on even weeks, and condemning it on odd weeks. Potholes are soooo boring.....


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

My daughter asked what was the problem. I explain as best I could. Her comment was, "well we have all kinds of people come here to live and we have to get along with them no matter what. Why can't they". I agree, I understand that both people feel, say, want that land, but as humans can't they look past that and just get along? I know that it may not be that simple but why can't it be??


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

out of the mouths of babes. such wisdom.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Israel's excuses are almost identical to those of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel could end this conflict tomorrow. Grant the Palestinians statehood and abandon illegal settlements. Overnight, Hamas and Iran will lose legitimacy. Israel will still have a huge military, and the unequivocal support of the US to defend itself. The Palestinians will no longer have Israel to blame for their poverty and poor governance - it will become their own problem and their responsibility. But Israel isn't interested in peace. Otherwise, they wouldn't prevent Palestinians from being able to import food. They wouldn't prevent Palestinians from having access to medicine and medical care. They wouldn't prevent Palestinians from having access to paid employment in their own country. They wouldn't prevent Palestinians from emigrating to escape the misery. Israel has no interest in peace, the only interest they have is in the complete elimination of the Palestinian people. Until Israel stops engaging in genocide, they don't deserve ANYONE'S support.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

False equivalency. While I can't condone continued settlement-building by Israel, it seems clear that their interest is in security over peace, since the Palestinians (and much of the muslim world) have repeatedly called for the genocide of all Jews. Israel has NEVER advocated a similar policy towards muslims.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

There is no indication of any reduction or blocking of food or medicine to the Palestinians. If they really needed more they could smuggle it in through those tunnels they keep bringing in rockets through.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

The Brotherhood's credo was and is, "Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations." Its most famous slogan, used worldwide, is "Islam is the solution. Shari would would prevail and any other religious freedoms would be exempt, I guess that sounds like fair play?