President’s June 2021 Column


 A lot has occurred in our Jewish world during the past couple of weeks. Israel is again facing a barrage of rockets in unprecedented numbers for the sheer hope that Israeli civilians will be killed. Not since WW-II has a democratic nation been so targeted in this way. Had it not been for their Iron Dome many more Jews would have been killed and injured. 

It is not without prejudice that I defend Israel’s use of both a sophisticated defense as well as targeted offensive strikes. Possibly my tilt is due to the fact my daughter and grandson reside in northern Tel Aviv. Therefore, it stands to underscore how I may view this conflict of “un-equals”. I’m interested, what is your view?

Many see this fight as a David and Goliath battle with their soul always so wanting to defend poor David, who in this case, are non-guilty Palestinians stuck, quite literally, in Gaza. It’s more likely an American Jew may find more news proponents in their favor on the Christian channels than from one’s favorite late-night comic on MSNBC. Some have argued that it’s the fact that Israel has an Iron Dome that rocket quantities have significantly increased.

Such logic of asymmetry to slant your choice who to defend is quaint but lacks any connection to human values and realities on the ground. See our own past, when the United States engaged in a military conflict (think Afghanistan), were we not unequal in military/technological might? Asymmetry, itself, should not be the judgement for moral high ground.

The battle raging in the hearts (by some on both sides) in the streets of Israeli cohabitated towns is a new disturbing element. The Egyptian brokered ceasefire, as expected as it was, is welcome, but does little to help the mistrust now fostered at home with Israeli neighbors and vendors.

At the time of this writing, the cease fire is holding. So now what? What changes so that in two years rockets and its justified response will not again reemerge? It’s notable that we didn’t see rockets coming from the West Bank. What has tampered the West Bank? I submit it’s for two major reasons: supply, and demand. Simply put, Israel’s security presence does not allow for such weapons (supply) to find their way into the West Bank. Also, economically, and self-determinant advances have been made with Israel’s eastern neighbor, as such, they lack the desire (demand). Said another way, when there is hope your children’s future will be better, we tend to not wage desperate violence.

There is another asymmetry between these two adversaries that the press often doesn’t point out and contribute the most to the bloodshed cycle – that is between citizens that have a voice in who will represent them versus a regime that does not have rule of law, structure nor democracy. The common citizen should not be seen as the enemy, rather its those that gain power and personal comforts on the backs, and literally off the rooftops, of their citizens. The subsistence standard of living within Gaza makes the populace ripe with angry desperate people who will obey any militant leader.

Asymmetry, sure it exists, when did it not? And we, living in these United States, own that advantage. This should not be seen with scorn. Asymmetry of political power creates the seeds of conflict we are witnessing today.

May peace descend on all the world and within the hearts of all.

Robert Becker