Since Operation Protective Edge began three weeks ago, more than 2,550 rockets have been launched by terrorists in Gaza at Israel targeting the entire country. As you read this blog, these attacks continue. Fifty-three IDF soldiers have lost their lives to date.
On Monday July 28, I had the opportunity to lead the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ delegation at the National Leadership Assembly for Israel held in Washington, D.C. The Assembly brought together 500 Jewish leaders from across the country to meet with the Congressional leadership and Obama administration leaders to stand in solidarity for Israel’s right to defend itself and end Hamas’ reign of terror.
Highlights are best summed up in our tweets of their presentations:
- U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice spoke about support of Israel right to defend itself, its legitimacy and stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program. “One thing you do not have to worry about is the support for Israel of the United States…I am dismayed by misleading press reports. Reality is that John Kerry has been working every step of the way with Israel.”
- Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: “Hamas is an evil that must be rooted out of Gaza. The US would not show the restraint that Israel has under attack.”
- Majority Whip Congressman Kevin McCarthy: “A rocket aimed at Israel is a rocket aimed at America.”
- Democratic Whip Congressman Steny Hoyer: “Bipartisan agreement that any permanent ceasefire must demilitarize Gaza. Hamas must be disarmed. No nation can be expected to stop defending itself while under attack.”
- House Speaker Congressman John Boehner: “The House will always support Israel’s right to defend itself and will continue to fund the Iron Dome.”
- Congressman Ed Royce, chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee: “Hamas asks their citizens to be human shields.”
- Senator Ben Cardin: “There is no moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel.”
What do these words mean? It means that a bipartisan Congress has unanimously passed legislation that supports Israel’s right to defend itself; to condemn using civilians as human shields; and to fund the Iron Dome and ensure additional rocket interceptors. According to the National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the Obama administration is working toward a ceasefire that demilitarizes Gaza and to combat growing anti-Semitism and hate around the world.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Canadian Ambassador Stevens, and other interfaith leaders also addressed attendees. The Assembly was organized by JFNA, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, AIPAC, ADL, and other Jewish community organizations. Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ was represented by me, Merle Kalishman, Jim Daniels, Melanie Roth Gorelick, Roger Jacobs, Sam Pepper, and Lenny Posnock. (You can watch it on www.c-span.org)
At the same time, more than 10,000 people, including members of CRC, attended the Stand For Israel Rally in New York.
Israel is planning to continue its ground offensive. It is imperative that we demilitarize Gaza, a terrorist organization that has been planning and working for years to turn public opinion against Israel while they stockpile weapons and dig terror tunnels with the aim of murdering Israelis and destroying our homeland.
However, we must also realize that we, as Jews and as part of the Jewish community, are important ambassadors for Israel. Whether we are left or right, now is a time that we must take action, stay informed, and educate others. Now is a time to speak out against growing anti-Semitism and to thank those who support Israel’s right to exist. We are in this for the long haul.
Although today we have strong support for Israel, it is important that we as a community do not take this for granted. We must take the time to thank our elected officials and keep ourselves informed on what is going on so that we can translate it to the community-at-large and the media.