Who are the people of modern Israel?

‘Instead of utilizing Israel’s infrastructure for the benefit of the people of Gaza, Hamas was determined to fulfill the clearly stated goal of destroying Israel and killing all Jews — jihad’

Since the Iranian-sponsored Hamas devastation wrought on Oct. 7 - a Jewish Sabbath Day as well as what should have been the joyous holiday of Simchat Torah - I have struggled to share the horror and sadness I feel. But I know when people don't respond to unjust and cruel behavior, they are complicit.

To those who call for peace and harmony for all people, without going back to Biblical times, I want to remind you who the people of modern Israel are.

Some are the descendants of parents or grandparents escaping from violence, murder, and confiscation of possessions fueled by the pogroms sponsored by antisemitic leaders in Eastern European Countries in the late 1900s and early 20th century.

Some Israelis are Holocaust survivors. Must I remind us of the systematic slaughter perpetrated by the Nazis? Determined to eradicate the world of Jews, whole families were rounded up, tortured, homes and property seized.

Some Israelis are the children who miraculously survived and escaped the gas chambers of concentration camps. Those who were saved were sheltered from the Nazis by caring individuals willing to risk their lives to save Jewish children and families.

In 1948, when the state of Israel was established by the United Nations, some six million Jewish families living in Muslim lands for centuries were ousted from their homes. They were forced from Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen, Algeria. Some were penniless. Very few or no Jews live in those countries today. Many of these people settled in Israel.

Some Israelis are immigrants from Great Britain and North America who have a deep devotion to the history and religion of the Jewish people.

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I have sympathy for those Palestinians today who feel they have been displaced from their land. It might make sense for them to question the historical decision of the Arab countries in 1948 to not accept the United Nations' partition of Palestine into one country for Jewish people and one for Muslims and Arabs - two states side by side, both having access to the holy sites of Jerusalem.

Instead of rejoicing, as the Jewish people did, and working side by side for the betterment of both, leading Arab countries waged war.

Some well-meaning folks claim that the root cause of violence between the Israelis and Palestinians is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. However, in 2005, Ariel Sharon, the 11th prime minister of Israel, ordered the evacuation of all Israelis from Gaza.

Jake Wallis Simons, writer for the Jewish Chronicle and The Telegraph, reminds readers:

"Almost two decades ago, in a moonshot for peace, Israel withdrew from the Strip, dragging Jews from their homes and handing their neighbors the keys. Gaza had been relatively prosperous. There were kibbutzim and businesses, as well as a glorious beach. The underground aquifer held enough water for all its inhabitants. There was a power station and the potential for much solar energy. There was an airport."

Instead of utilizing Israel's infrastructure for the benefit of the people of Gaza, Hamas was determined to fulfill the clearly stated goal of destroying Israel and killing all Jews - jihad. Donated water pipes were used to build rockets. Underground tunnels were constructed to invade Israel and store goods and weapons.

Israeli leaders were hoping that economic benefit for the people of Gaza would help eradicate the threat of terror. With the border tightened to prevent threats from terrorists, thousands of Gazans were able to find employment in Israel. The Israeli military could certainly conclude that this was how Hamas gathered intelligence carried out on Oct. 7.

According to Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, and Northern Ireland, wrote on his website: "Any and all Israeli security control measures over Judea and Samaria (The West Bank) and Gaza have been imposed in response to incessant Palestinian Arab aggression.

"Hamas terrorists have the least possible claim to have carried out their brutality from 'stifling occupation'. Israel unilaterally left the Gaza Strip in 2005, effectively ceding it to complete Palestinian control. Immediately when Hamas took over, they used the territory as a base for attack on Israel, compelling the [Israel Defense Forces], and Egypt, to impose a partial blockade to try to prevent weapons entering Gaza as well as attacks being launched from there."

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I find deep sadness in finally agreeing with the words of Israel's fourth prime minister, Golda Meir: "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. There will be peace in the Middle East only when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel."

On Oct. 28, Colonel Richard Kemp shared on his website: "Hamas exists solely to destroy the State of Israel. This is laid down in its founding charter, cleansing or subjugating Jews in every part of the land 'from the river to the sea'.

"They know they can't defeat the IDF by military means, so their entire strategy is to work towards Israel's delegitimisation, vilification and isolation in the world, using the lives of their own people as weapons of war. We must not let them win."

Marlene Wein is an educator and an advocate for families of children with mental health needs.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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