According to announcements, the Palestinians will put off the legislative elections originally planned to take place on May 22, followed by presidential elections on July 31. These would have been the first national elections to take place in the Palestinian territories since 2006. The 2006 elections led to an unstable unity government. In 2007, civil war broke out between Hamas and Fatah. After a bloody struggle that left hundreds dead, Hamas expelled Fatah from Gaza to the West Bank.
When the widely unpopular Abbas issued a formal decree ordering the elections in mid-January this year, many observers believed he was just trying to find some path to strengthen his legitimacy and stay in power.
Close Abbas advisers such as Hussein al-Sheikh, Majid Faraj and the wealthy businessman Nabil Shaath were said to oppose the move from the beginning because they fear that there are many inside Fatah and, of course, from Hamas that would take the opportunity to take all the Abbas team and proxies down.
Now that the elections will most likely be postponed, who is being blamed? Of course, Israel. The real problem is that Abbas firmly believed he could control the vote in May and July, but when a short time ago the convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti said that he would participate, “whatever it takes,” even from his cell, Abbas and his team started thinking that they could have a civil war rather than an election.
Abbas’s justification for delaying the election is based on the symbolic status of East Jerusalem. The Palestinians insist that an election cannot happen if Jerusalem is not included. The Oslo Accords stipulate that a symbolic number of Palestinians can vote at designated post offices. The other 150,000 would vote at ballot boxes in the West Bank.
Let's see what may happen if there are elections, and what the reaction in the international community will be.
Abbas is corrupt and his administration has no popularity in the West Bank. But he has managed to stay in power and tries to use doublespeak to move forward. On one hand he says he wants peace, on the other hand he does not sit at the negotiating table and endorses terrorism, paying great amounts of money to those terrorists who kill Israeli civilians.
Marwan Barghouti wants to take power. He believes he can get out of jail and become the new Palestinian President. But who is Barghouti? He planned and executed several massacres of Israeli civilians. He organized the killing of Georgios Tsibouktzakis, a Greek priest in Ma'ale Adumim, and killed Israeli civilians; he directed a massacre in the Seafood Market in Tel Aviv, killing Israeli civilians; he sent suicide bombers to the Malha Mall; he planned and executed 33 attacks which murdered 21 people. This is Barghouti. This is the murderer who challenges Abbas and wants to lead the PA.
Researchers from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy have noted in a special report that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have nominated candidates with criminal records, and Hamas has nominated other criminals who should be in prison for life instead of candidates in an election. Two examples are:
Jamal Muhammad Farah al-Tawil, a Hamas commander in the West Bank who planned multiple suicide bombings, including a 2001 car bombing in a Jerusalem pedestrian mall that killed 12 Israelis and wounded nearly 200.
Jamal Abd al-Shamal Abu Hija, who was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to nine life sentences for involvement in at least six bombings, including the 2002 Meron Junction attack in north Israel that killed nine and the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15. He is also on the Hamas electoral list.
If relations between the Palestinians and the international community are based on the Palestinian commitment to nonviolence, the recognition of Israel and the acceptance of agreements, it is time to ask if the international silence is because they endorse criminals as possible leaders of the PA or if they will decide once and forever to repudiate the electoral participation of these convicted terrorists.
In this context, Abbas feels comfortable to claim there is no possibility of elections due to the restrictions in Jerusalem. It is false, but the international community sometimes has a tendency to accept these kinds of statements from Abbas. We can watch it in every U.N. agency meeting all the time. Less than a month ago, in the United Nations Union Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Israel was vandalized by a resolution saying that Israel is guilty of “war crimes.” European and Latin American countries did not hesitate to vote such atrocity.
When are they going to face the reality of corruption in the PA, whose leaders stole vaccines two months ago, which were sent for medical doctors but were used to vaccinate the ruling officers during the tragedy caused by the pandemic?
When are they going to understand that candidates to lead a Palestinian State can be criminals like Barghouti or al-Tawil?
When will the international community, those who believe in real peace, stop harassing Israel in the U.N. agencies and push both Israelis and Palestinians to discuss face to face through a negotiating table?
When is the international community going to understand that corruption and criminals are not the solution for the Palestinian future? The Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt and Jordan have business and diplomatic relations with Israel. The Palestinian narrative boasting that no Arab country can have peace with Israel without a solution between them and the Israelis is obsolete.
The European and Latin American countries which insulted Israel in the UNHRC last month should react. And the great democracies too.
The pages of the Winter 2020 issue of IMPACT contained a From the Vault column focusing on the cleaning, repair and rededication of the 19th century Moorish-style synagogue in Verdun, France by American soldiers during World War II, who were the first to revive Friday night worship services there. The building had been destroyed by the Nazis before the American troops arrived.
The story of the events in Verdun had originally been published as a first-hand account by Army officer, surgeon and B’nai B’rith member Col. Joseph Haas in a 1945 issue of B’nai B’rith’s American Jewish Monthly.
With funds raised by France’s heritage organization, Fondation du Patrimoine, the synagogue has now undergone a major restoration by the architectural firm Grégoire André. A short film on the foundation’s website details many aspects of this project and includes footage of the restoration process, as well as visuals of the building’s exterior and sanctuary.
Designated as an historic landmark, the Verdun synagogue is owned by Verdun’s Jewish community. Many dangerous leaks from the roof and elsewhere had forced the synagogue to close to the public.
Cheryl Kempler is an art and music specialist who works in the B'nai B'rith International Curatorial Office and writes about history and Jewish culture for B’nai B’rith Magazine. To view some of her additional content, click here.
The decision to resume American aid to the Palestinians is a classic example of cart-before-the-horse thinking that has existed in one form or another for the past seven decades. Upwards of $235 million dollars in aid has been proposed by the White House, $150 million of which would be earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
In exchange for this gesture, it appears there will be no quid pro quo.
Since 1993, the year of the signing of the Oslo Accords — the agreement that was to set in motion an end-of-conflict between Israel and the Palestinian — the conventional wisdom has been that providing financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) would incentivize it to reach a settlement with the Jewish State.
Actually, American assistance to the Palestinians goes back long before that. Since its establishment in 1949, UNRWA — set up to provide aid to Palestinians who fled during Israel’s War of Independence — has received over $6 billion from the United States, by far the largest single international contributor.
UNRWA was originally intended to be a temporary assistance program — until the Palestinians it served were absorbed into the Arab countries to which they fled. It became instead a bloated (it has more than 30,000 employees) and corrupt operation, adding generations of Palestinians to its refugee rolls (now numbering more than 5 million “registered refugees”), politicizing education to the point of teaching hatred of Jews and Israel, and holding out the promise to its beneficiaries that one day they will all return to what is now Israel.
While wealthier Arab countries contributed little to UNRWA, the international community became comfortably accustomed to the organization’s wayward ways, without raising a call for reform. And US financial support continued unabated.
Fade to the signing of the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn in September of 1993. I was there to witness what for many of us was a very hopeful day. We sensed that while this would not necessarily portend a warm peace, it could establish an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a renunciation of claims and the prospect of normalcy for Israel and its people that had eluded it for decades.
It was not to be.
Still, American administrations and Congress provided generous assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA), now totaling more than $5 billion since 1994. The general assumption is that this financial aid, combined with that contributed by European countries, Japan, and others would not only help meet humanitarian needs, but would also fund infrastructure projects and civil service salaries. The idea being, with that aid, and an economic stake in their future, the Palestinians would be incentivized to conclude a deal with Israel.
In fact, the opposite has taken root. The litany of missed opportunities at the negotiating table is well known: Camp David, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the Annapolis Conference, the Kerry initiative, all came and went like late winter squalls. It became evident that the Palestinian side wished to pursue a zero-sum approach to peacemaking, a my-way-or-the-highway attitude, that somehow received a pass from many in the US and Europe.
Years ago, I was present at a meeting of Jewish leaders with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who was asked if he recognized Israel as a Jewish state. His response, with a self-assured, cavalier shrug was, “Israel can call itself anything it wants to.” He still refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and demands a “right of return” for over 5 million Palestinians to Israel.
At the United Nations, the Palestinians have gamed the system, with their narrative promoted daily in the organization’s major agencies. At the United Nations Human Rights Council, UNESCO, and its World Heritage Committee affiliate, resolutions that demonize and delegitimize Israel, and which seek to erase Jewish history in ancient Israel, are adopted year-in and year-out. The UN General Assembly each year funds specialized committees established for the expressed purpose of advancing the Palestinian cause through conferences, photo exhibitions, publications, and other means.
And then there is the issue of “pay-for-slay,” a long-term arrangement whereby the Palestinian Authority pays salaries and money to convicted terrorists or the families of terrorists who’ve been killed, in honor of their “martyrdom.”
In response to this outrage, the US Congress adopted the Taylor Force Act in 2018, named in memory of an American citizen and army veteran who was stabbed to death on a study trip in Israel by a Palestinian from the West Bank. The killer’s family, as do so many others, receives a stipend from the PA. Despite entreaties from the US and others to end this practice of glorifying terrorism, Abbas and his circle of PA lieutenants have steadfastly refused to end the practice. Until then, by law at least, there can be no direct aid to the PA.
Another constant over the nearly three decades since Oslo, has been the Palestinian media and education systems, which on a daily basis promote hatred of Israelis and Jews, using tropes and canards, along with cartoons of Jews and Israelis which evoke Holocaust themes, and stereotypical features, such as hooked noses and dollar signs festooned on overweight figures, right out of Der Sturmer. Teaching hate — and glorifying and inciting the murder of Jews — has been a staple in Palestinian textbooks and children’s TV programs and online postings, and continues unabated.
In response to the PA’s pay-for-slay program, its utilization of the UN system to demonize and delegitimize Israel, and its clear-as-day aversion to a real negotiation with Israel, the Trump administration began a cutoff of aid to the Palestinians. It also cut off aid to UNRWA, citing its innate corruption and politicization.
Earlier this month, the White House announced a resumption of aid to both UNRWA and to the PA, embarking on yet another effort by a series of American administrations to pull or push the Palestinians back into something resembling a peace process. The bulk will go to UNRWA, with the remainder going for a range of other programs. To get around the Taylor Force Act restrictions, it appears that aid to the PA will be directed to non-governmental organizations working in the West Bank.
In announcing the resumption of aid, a State Department spokesperson said, “By resuming this assistance today … we have a seat at the table. We can help drive UNRWA in the ways that we think is in our interest … Obviously, there are areas we would like to reform … We will continue to be in a better position, an even greater position to drive and steer UNRWA in a direction that we think is productive and useful…”
With this restoration of aid, a tremendous opportunity to condition assistance on serious changes both in the PA and UNRWA has been lost. Our previous $6 billion to UNRWA clearly was never used to end the organization’s excess and its promotion of hatred. Why should we assume UNRWA’s way of doing business will change, now that it knows American assistance is back?
And as for the PA, why not have conditionality there as well? Close down pay-for-slay, end the campaign against Israel in multilateral forums like the UN and the International Criminal Court, stop promising a right of return that simply will not happen, end the backing of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, cease antisemitic incitement against Israel and the Jewish people. And, for goodness sake, stop educating your young people to hate. Without education for peace, any process that seeks to end this conflict will never succeed.
In a normal world, the Abraham Accords would serve as a roadmap for the Palestinians — a way out that promises economic success, and a stake in a brighter future for all. The Palestinians are mired in a cycle of victimization, promoted and manipulated by leaders who have a bigger stake in the status quo, than in ending this seven-decades-plus conflict. More than willing to take the aid funding, they see no reason to compromise. And that, finally, needs to be called out.
Throwing good money after bad, as we’ve seen over these past decades, has produced high expectations and low returns. A resumption of aid to the Palestinian leadership based on hope, trust, and luck, will likely be dashed.
A more certain path might have been taken: we’ll consider the help, but not until this checklist of hatred, corruption, glorification of terror, and constant attempts to delegitimize Israel ends. For what is being offered now, this is surely not too much to ask.
Read CEO Mariaschin's expert analysis in the Algemeiner.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is CEO of B'nai B'rith International.
By the time I was six years old, some 10 years after the Holocaust, any discussion my parents would have about it invariably ended with them lamenting the failure of the Roosevelt Administration to save the Jews of Europe.
I never heard a single word at the dinner table against any of FDR’s domestic policies, nor, of course, his stewardship of the allied campaign to defeat the Nazis. But on the question of not speaking out forcefully on Hitler’s drive to annihilate the Jews, or doing anything to impede it, or to save them, my parents were not forgiving. My mother’s family in Lithuania, with one single exception, was wiped out like so many Jews there and in the rest of occupied Europe. So, 10 years on, this was very much on her mind.
Recounting these tragic episodes of official indifference to the fate of European Jewry is worth noting today in how the international community has reacted not only to the Iranian regime’s nuclear program and its malign behavior, but also to its now 42-year campaign of genocidal threats against the State of Israel and its incessant, daily spewing of anti-Semitic invective.
I was reminded of the dangers of indifference again when U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered remarks last week on the occasion of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The stepson of a Holocaust survivor who authored a moving personal account of his years as a victim of Nazi barbarity, Blinken went beyond the usual expressions on the need to remember.
The secretary zeroed in on the failure of the State Department to save Jews during World War II when an open-door policy could have allowed in untold numbers of European Jews facing certain death at the hands of our enemy.
Referencing then-Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, Blinken said that “He had immense power to help those being persecuted. Yet, as the Nazis began to systematically round up and execute Jews, Long made it harder and harder for Jews to be granted refuge in the United States.” Long served as a special assistant secretary of state for war issues, before being named assistant secretary in 1940.
Actually, this indifference began before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. In July 1938, at the initiative of the United States, 32 countries and 24 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) convened in Evian, France to discuss the growing issue of Jews seeking to flee persecution in Nazi Germany and in Austria. Despite the ruffles and flourishes of this international gathering, only the Dominican Republic, among all the countries present (including the United States) offered a specific proposal to admit Jewish refugees.
The message was not lost on Nazi Germany.
Nor was the case of the SS St. Louis, less than a year later, in May 1939. The Hamburg-America line vessel, sailing from Germany to Cuba with over 900 Jews aboard, was ultimately denied entry at Havana, despite strenuous efforts by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to negotiate with the Cuban government to allow them in.
The ship then made its way to the Florida coast, within view of Miami, hoping for a positive decision to allow the passengers to disembark. Denial to dock in the U.S. was the answer at the State Department, which said the refugees “must await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for, and obtain immigrations visas before they may be admissible to the United States.”
Ultimately, the ship returned to Europe. Though some passengers found refuge thanks to efforts of the JDC, less than half survived the Holocaust. Hitler’s “test” to prove that Jews would not find a haven, even in the Western Hemisphere, succeeded.
For sure, 2021 is not 1938. But the vehemence and the nature of Iran’s rhetoric leveled at the only Jewish state bears striking resemblance to that in Europe over 85 years ago. Israel is described by Iranian leaders as a “cancer which must be excised.” The Nazis used the word “vermin,” but the message is the same. Every week, one Iranian official or another – from the top down – threatens to level Israel’s second-largest and third-largest cities, Tel Aviv and Haifa. The Holocaust is not only denied in Tehran, it is used as a club against Israel, claiming the “Zionists” hide behind it as a rationale for their illegal existence.
The current rushed effort to engage Iran in a resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks on Iran’s nuclear program raises many questions, the first of which is do we really believe, after nearly 30 years of developing a program focused on producing nuclear weapons, the Iranian regime intends to trash it, in order to be considered a member in good standing of the international community?
Beyond that though, is the businesslike way this is all being carried out. Tehran, since the U.S. elections in November, knowing that a more favorable approach toward it by the U.S. and its P-5+1 (U.S., United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, plus Germany) partners was in the offing, has done everything to stick a finger in our collective eye, by raising the level of enrichment of nuclear fuel, introducing advanced centrifuges, testing ballistic missiles, and denying snap inspections of military sites. Do we really think this is just brinkmanship?
There is an infinitesimal chance that any of the P5+1 players will ever be the target of a campaign that calls for its annihilation as a “cancer” that must be removed. Or, that a multi- stage inter-continental ballistic missile will ever be fired from Iran into the heart of any of its capital cities.
But Israel has sound reasons to be worried. The current JCPOA agreement is replete with holes and sunset clauses that would allow the Iranians, patient and not worried about calendars or clocks, to eventually find a path to a nuclear weapon. Its missile program already has produced weapons that can reach the heart of Israel and its friends in the Gulf.
And the rhetoric out of Tehran about destroying the “Zionist entity” continues unabated.
Even with statements noting the JCPOA needs to be strengthened (begging the question as to why the 2015 agreement was so porous to begin with) there is a nagging sense that Israel’s justified mistrust of Tehran is seen as an annoyance, or that it is simply spoiling the party, with reconciliation within reach. Israel of course, is in Tehran’s crosshairs, and by extension, the Jewish people must not have to sit by and watch another outlaw regime, this time in the 21st century, threatening to annihilate Jews.
In the 1930s, all of the signals relating to Nazi Germany’s designs on European Jewry were as obvious as a neon sign on a clear night. Words do count, but few were listening, and even fewer did anything about it.
Secretary Blinken’s candid remarks about indifference to such threats which were carried out on European soil over 75 years ago have implications for the present. All policymakers now making their way to the table with Iran should heed that message.
Read CEO Mariaschin's expert analysis in the Times of Israel.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is CEO of B'nai B'rith International.
We have just closed another week of powerful, somber Holocaust remembrance ceremonies and programs around the globe. For those who may not know, Israel marks every Yom HaShoah with an early morning siren—a sound that jolts the body and demands all attention. Cars halt in their tracks on highways, people in busy grocery stores stop what they are doing, every person at a desk in every office stands and gives a contemplative and sorrowful two minutes of silence. This is for the six million murdered in the Holocaust. Every Yom HaShoah, that number remains, but for the following week’s day of remembrance—Yom HaZikaron, for Israel’s fallen soldiers—that number does not stay the same. Every year, with a gut-punch, it grows.
Last year news came out that Gilad Shalit, “Israel’s son,” was engaged to be married. It moved me deeply to hear this wonderful news at the time—brought me tears to think that he was living a happy and healthy life after the horrors of being a Hamas captive for five years. Shalit’s story is important to so many, but it is a story particularly close to me because I have a brother who, like Shalit, served in the tank unit during the Lebanon War, also at 18 years old, in 2006. Reflecting on that time period all these years later, I ask myself, how can it be that we are still fighting for the safety of the Jewish people in the land of Israel? How can it be that each year we mourn more Israeli soldiers killed in the line of duty?
Yom HaZikaron is the hardest day for the people of Israel. I can say that confidently as both an American and an Israeli. Every Israeli knows someone killed in the line of duty from the early days to today. I think of Shalit and how many young soldiers died in that war, and each war before and after it, who could have also married and lived long lives, but did not get the chance. And I think, how can it be Israeli soldiers under 20 years old and reserves, men in their mid-20s-30s who are just starting their lives with young families, are still at risk every day of being called to war?
In the summer of 2006, I was 21 and enjoying the summer off from college visiting my family in Netanya, Israel. We had made Aaliyah from the United States in 1999, a whole month before the start of the second intifada. I lived through those years as a teenager, stunned by the sounds of suicide bombings throughout my city, constantly checking my first-generation Nokia phone to hear from my family any time a passerby on the street or the news mentioned there may have been a “pigua” or attack. That period marked way too many close calls, like the time I said goodbye to my father as he turned to make a stop at the bank and moments later heard a bomb go off in the bank’s direction—I still thank G-d for the moment I saw him walking back toward us safely. Or the time my older brother was on the way to the Dolphanerium night club in Tel Aviv moments before 21 Israelis were massacred there, 16 of whom were teenagers. Those years were marked by sheer terror on an almost daily basis, but nothing will compare to the 10 days during the summer of 2006 when I did not know if my brother would make it home to us.
My younger brother, David, was 11 when we moved to Israel. Not knowing Hebrew at the time, he was your average American kid who loved to play Nintendo and skateboard. Cut to seven years later and he was sent into a mismanaged war that the army and politicians are still debating. A young 18-years-old, tall, skinny David had just finished an eight-month training course in the IDF tank unit and was sent directly into Lebanon when the war broke out. He was sent to fight a conventional war against a guerilla army on its own territory. Many of my best friends and other family members were in some of Israel’s most elite units as commanders and combatants during that war. Collectively, so many Israelis remember this time like it was yesterday, because every person knew someone in harm’s way.
Growing up in a place like Long Island, New York, my four brothers and I never imagined that we’d be facing an actual war. Perhaps we should have, but the days of full-scale war were supposed to be a thing for the history books. My father served 14 years in the IDF, mainly as a major. At 19-years-old in the Yom Kippur War, he served in the legendary Golani Brigade. His unit, Unit 17, lost 23 out of 60 comrades on Mt. Hermon that horrific day. My father is still haunted by survivor’s guilt, that only he and a few others survived the Syrian’s surprise brutal attack. He later continued to work undercover in Lebanon for years through the first Lebanon War, my mother and grandmother never quite sure he’d return each weekend; there were no cell phones then to let loved ones know you were on the way home. His brothers, my uncles, retired as well-respected generals, both of them having served in most of Israel’s wars’ detrimental battles. They are all heroes; some went on into politics.
On my mother’s side, her father grew up a Gur Hasid in Poland and in the 1930s, at age eight, moved to Palestine after his father was nearly beaten to death by anti-Semitic Poles. Uncommon then, my zayde’s father’s rabbi told him to take the family to Palestine to escape the rampant anti-Semitism, and miraculously, he did. As a teenager, my zayde joined the underground Jabotinsky movement, the Irgun. He would leave Palestine in the mid-1940s with a price on his head, his friends hung in Akko. He would tell us the stories of working missions for Eitan Livni (former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s father), smuggling notes in cigarette boxes and enduring interrogations by the British. In his early twenties he traveled around the United States to meet famed celebrities like Marlon Brando, at exclusive night clubs to try to convince them to support Israel’s cause both financially and for public morale. At 21-years-old, he ran a warehouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan smuggling weapons to Palestine. When the FBI raided, he slept in a movie theatre for three nights hiding out.
My great-uncle Arthur, working for the then Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, would go undercover to KKK rallies in the deep south during the 1950s and report back with significant intel. The stories go on, and each could fill a novel. To say that Zionism is in my blood would be an understatement, yet nothing could truly prepare me for what the cost of Zionism might be—and when faced with that cost, was I prepared to make it?
The more-or-less 10 days we were unable to make contact with my brother David during the 2006 Lebanon War were the worst days of my life. It is mainly a blur when I try to recall that time period because the shock and devastation we endured as a family still lingers through my body like it happened yesterday. I recall my mother and I crying in the living room—It had been a few days since we last heard from him and we sat with my older brother, Ari, brainstorming ways to get David home. Ari said, “We have to get him to somehow break his leg and then as a wounded soldier, he will be brought back into Israel.” Or we thought, “Could we get him to refuse to obey?” We much preferred he sit in a jail cell—but oh, how silly these ideas were, because what we didn’t know, but later found out, was David was stuck inside a tank for 10 days surrounded by Hezbollah on their territory. He was fighting for his life and the life of his comrades. Yes, 10 days in a tank with almost no combat experience.
In Israel, when you lose a son in battle, the army arrives at your door to tell you in person. Any time someone rang our doorbell those days, my heart would sink to my knees, paralyzing me. Any time someone called the house and I did not understand the person’s fast-paced Hebrew I would panic and plead with them to slow down so I could better understand. Each night on the radio we would hear the names of the most recent fallen soldiers. I will not get into the sobering details of the stress that our house endured, but I will say that it was in that time that I vowed, for the memory of every single soldier who perished, to devote my life to make sure they did not die in vain. That the world will know the type of enemies the State of Israel has, and that I will fight alongside those who strive to get to a day where no Israeli citizen will again die of Palestinian or any enemy terror.
My beautiful brother David, now 33, is married, like Shalit, and happily living his life. I will never be able to express the gratitude I have that those dark days are part of a bad memory now. But how many families do not get to say that? Who will remember those young soldiers who did not get to come home? Can we ever truly be prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice for our Zionism? A question I still can’t answer. But I do know we must continue to work to fight Israel’s enemies both in combat and through advocacy, diplomacy, the law and every channel there is.
We just marked 76 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, and the Jewish people of Israel are still fighting for their claim to live peacefully, surrounded by enemies on all borders and a genocidal Iran nearby. To think that my zayde was fighting for Israel in the 1930s and 1940s, my father and uncles throughout the 1970s and 1980s and my brother in the 2000s, is beyond comprehension. This Yom HaZikaron there will be new names added to the list of heroes and for that, we cannot rest. Despite all the sacrifice, the pain, the sorrow, 73 years in, Israel has no choice but to continue the fight.
Rebecca Rose is Associate Director of Development & Special Projects at B’nai B’rith International. She holds an M.A. in Political Science in Security and Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University.
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