Happy End-of-Ramadan!

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....
Coming off the smashing success of my previous blog "Move the Border!", quoted in the Huffington Post (scandalously without citing Arutz Sheva), I figured it was a good time to write again. Additionally, we recently celebrated somewhat of a Jewish holiday - the end of Ramadan!

Oh yes, Ramadan, that festive time when many adherents to the "religion of peace" terrorize all those that are different from them to a harsher degree than the rest of the year. This is manifest throughout the Middle East and anywhere else with significant Muslim populations. This lovely be‎havior is especially prominent in Israel in areas where Jews and Arabs live side-by-side. Of course this is very much a minority situation. Most Arabs and Jews live in rather homogenous communities throughout all parts of the country. The reasons for this are probably not solely based on what happens during Ramadan, but that's not a bad place to start.

Regardless of the current conflict in Gaza and the various violent events leading up to it, the consistent hostility and terror that annually accompanies Ramadan is no secret. Certainly not to those most affected by it - the Jews (and others) who live in close proximity to predominately Muslim areas. Whether in numerous parts of Jerusalem, Jaffa, the Galilee or throughout Judea and Samaria, increases in roch-throwing, molotav cocktails, fireworks and many other forms of intimidation, harassment and violence are always guaranteed to increase. And man did this year not disappoint. The number of incidents and their intensity may very well be unprecedented.

Despite all this "holiday fun", celebration should not be reserved solely for the Muslims. Now would be an especially appropriate time to celebrate those brave and courageous Jews who chose to live in such often tremendously significant and vitally strategic areas, all the while valiantly shouldering all the hardships that come with it. These are true modern Jewish heroes and they deserve our support and admiration all year long, but especially after having endured the recent month-long "holiday". There are various ways of showing support - from just saying thank you to becoming actively involved in supporting the efforts of the different organizations that are strengthening the Jewish presences in precisely these areas (Israel Land Fund, Ateret Cohanim, Elad/Ir Dovid, Beit Orot, Garin Torani groups and others). Does anyone really believe that Jews would be able to go the incredible archaeological sites in the City of David if it wasn't for the Jewish residents that live there? Very, very unlikely! There are numerous examples of positive results for the Jewish People as a whole of such acts of heroism, from Hevron to Shiloh and more. And there are quite a few negative examples, like in Jericho and Shechem, where access to holy Jewish sites is rare if not completely forbidden precisely because there are not Jewish residents living in close enough proximity.  

As the conflict rages in Gaza, we fervently hope and pray for the safety and success of each and every one of our soldiers. However, let's be very careful not to forget our other "soldiers" - men, women and children who dedicate many years if not lifetimes to securing Jewish access and presence in the most important areas in the world.

Happy end-of-Ramadan to them and all of Klal Yisrael!

Ben Packer
Old City, Jerusalem