An Israeli soldier walks at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, May 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
As was noted in the Weekend Australian, “the ceasefire has come. The internationally designated terrorist group, Hamas, has stopped firing rockets and mortar shells at civilian targets in Israel. And the Israeli air force has stopped conducting raids on Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip that inevitably have killed civilians”. The death toll was bad enough, but there remains a “shocking toll of distress, trauma, injury, crippled and endangered infrastructure”.
While the moral responsibility for this latest conflict rests with the terrorist group Hamas, which was responsible for starting this particular engagement aimed at killing as many Israeli civilians as possible, most believe Israel had the right to defend itself.
Greg Sheridan claimed that the outcome for Hamas is that “given that it is indifferent to the cost endured by its own people, that it achieved a lot of its objectives. In significant ways it damaged Israel, enhanced its own position and critically, served the interests of the power to which it is loyal, Iran“.
For the Progressive Jewish community this may be hard to accept. Many people thought that Israel could have performed a lot better in relation to the issues which are said to have triggered the attack by Hamas and that the political mess in Israel did little to help the situation and left the country without proper stable leadership. Others believe that these issues were trivial in justifying such a loss of life.
Sadly for some in the Diaspora, they may be questioning their support for Zionism and Israel as the home for the Jewish people. For others, there is a belief that the sooner a two state solution is negotiated the better and finally for others there is a belief in the right of Israel to its ancient land and the annexation and/or purchase of Palestinian occupied property.
Where ever this sad state of affairs takes us, I believe we should be supporting policies which recognise the complexity of dealing both with a terrorist organisation in Gaza and the implications of the involvement of Iran. A simple black and white blame game will not suffice. Support for Zionism and Israel does not mean you cannot be critical, particularly of the government of Israel or the electoral system which has trouble delivering clear electoral outcomes and stable government.
For Progressive Jews I simply quote Rabbi Dick Hirsch, who recently spoke at the Connections conference over the weekend. In his book “For the Sake of Zion”, he wrote; “We are here and we are insiders, not outsiders. We need Israel and Israel needs us. Our presence strengthens Israel and it strengthens the Reform/Progressive Movement in the Diaspora”.
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President