The most frequently heard criticism of Israel's attempts to defend itself against Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon is that it's using "disproportionate" force.
The notion that terrorist forces ensconced along the Jewish state's borders should have the right to kill, kidnap, and rain down death and destruction on Israeli towns and cities without facing the full force available at the hands of its victims is an absurdity.
The right of self-defense is an elemental principle of international law, yet somehow, when it comes to Israel, its many critics seem to think it ought not to be allowed to take whatever measures are necessary to secure the lives of its citizens.
The only question we must ask of those speaking of a "disproportionate" Israeli response is when has any country so attacked been refused the right to destroy its aggressors, as well as those who offer them aid and shelter? When seen from that frame of reference, it becomes apparent that the level of Israeli force used is not so much the question as is the legitimacy of Israeli self-defense at all.
As such, the only rational response of the vast bipartisan consensus of Americans — both Jewish and non-Jewish — in support of Israel must be to dismiss such appeals, as well as those that seek a halt to Israeli counterattacks before Hezbollah is disarmed. And as the conflict drags on, support for such suggestions, which have been made by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and others whose lack of sympathy for Israel is even more overt, will grow louder.
In backing Israeli actions and refusing to exert pressure for a quick cease-fire, the Bush administration is doing the right thing. Those who disagree might consider sending their suggestions for a cease-fire to the terrorists — and their state sponsors in Iran and Syria — before they dare to put the pressure on Israel.
Stand With Israel
The book of Lamentations that will be read next week on Tisha B'Av — the date that commemorates the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem, as well as other catastrophes in our religious history — is sobering for anyone who ponders the notion of the price of Jewish disunity.
The lesson of this solemn date is that mindless hatred between Jews and the failure to unite in the face of a common foe has led, more than once, to disaster for our people.
But even as we mourn for the losses suffered by Israel in the current conflict and remember other even grimmer chapters of Jewish history, the display of resolution by the people of Israel and the willingness of so many American Jews to come together in support of the beleaguered nation offer hope and consolation.
Though worries about the decline in support for Israel — and Jewish identity as a whole — are not unfounded, the pro-Israel rallies held throughout the region in the past week illustrate that the spirit of our community may not be as dead as some have feared.
Like the rest of us, the organized Jewish community has tended to spend the summer months on vacation; events and activism are put on hold till fall. But given the nature of the crisis at hand, this is no time for heat-induced indolence.
Activism and increased advocacy are needed now more than ever. The victims of terror in Israel, whose numbers grow with each passing day, also need our help. Every member of our community should do what he or she can to assist them, and one way to do so is through the Israel Emergency Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
Learning the history behind Tisha B'Av or the Holocaust compels us to action, not just contemplation. So don't simply watch passively while our brethren remain under attack; now is the time to stand for Israel.