In a week in which the radical clerics governing Iran seemed to be moving even closer to an unhindered quest for nuclear weapons - while other Islamist radicals prepared to take over the Palestinian Authority - you wouldn't think the greatest threat to Israel would come from within its own borders.
But the pitched battle at the illegal settlement of Amona in the West Bank proved once again that the conflict between Jews is often a lot more intense than relationships with the enemy.
Primary responsibility for the situation rests with those who resisted the enforcement of Israeli law. The nine-home site was slated for destruction, but a throng of settlement supporters arrived to protest and/or to hinder the efforts of the army and the police to carry out their orders. The result of their confrontation with the authorities was hundreds of casualties, including a few dozen police officers and soldiers.
Those who support the settlers have every right to protest the government's move - and then to work to replace it at the ballot box with one more to their liking. We also respect their right to engage in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience that would dramatize their cause. But they never have the right to arm themselves with sticks and bricks, and then assault fellow Israelis doing their jobs. Those who did so deserve to be prosecuted for such crimes.
That said, it must also be noted that the employment of baton-wielding and mounted riot troops who were unleashed on the protesters led to the high casualty toll. Whether the result was a "police riot" - as the settlers asserted - or just "excessive force" - as even the anti-settler B'Tselem group asserted - the sight of Jew beating Jew was in one word: horrifying.
The majority of American Jews wholeheartedly support the right of the Israeli government to make decisions it deems in the nation's interest and to expect those decisions to be carried out. The rule of law must be respected. As painful as the evacuation of Gaza was last summer, it was carried out with respect for all sides, and done in a manner that illustrated the value of putting Jewish unity above all other considerations.
We think it's worth remembering at these times that the Jewish people do not lack for foreign enemies who wish to destroy us. Divisions over settlements should not create a situation where one Jew will be prepared to shed another's blood with impurnity - no matter how wrong he or she might think them to be.
Time to Answer the Call
As we struggle to find meaning in our lives, many of us wonder what we can do that actually makes a difference. Answering that question is precisely why support for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is more important than ever before. Federation must shoulder the responsibility for raising money to maintain local Jewish services, help individuals and families in need, support Jewish education and provide critical funds for Jews overseas.
Whether you're speaking of victims of terror in Israel, elderly Jews in Russia and children right here in Philadelphia, Federation is there to help. There's virtually nothing you do that could change the Jewish world for the better as much as a gift to Federation. It's now time for individuals, whether they are "big" donors or only able to give modestly, to answer the call.
On Feb. 12, Federation will hold its annual Super Sunday phone-a-thon. On that day - and throughout the year - it's up to each of us to put aside communal squabbles, and face up to our responsibilities in funding the needs of the Jewish present and future.
On Super Sunday, it's your turn to make a difference.