Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Rabbi Steven PruzanskyCourtesy

Rabbi Steven Pruzanskywas the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey until his recent aliya to Israel.He serves as Israel's representative and Vice President and Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values.

 

In a world that seems constantly on edge, on the verge of apocalypse, and saturated with daily outrages – usually fabricated, contrived, or vacuous – there is a surprising lack of outrage at genuine indignities that we ignore at our peril. 

On second thought, perhaps it is not so surprising, as the outrages are perpetrated against Jews.

There is a daily stream of anti-Israel outrage about the plight of the Gaza civilians that certainly elides the role that they play in their own suffering – and they continue to play gathering intelligence for Hamas. But Hamas rockets are still launched against Israel’s cities, towns and villages, and we are still forced into our safe rooms. 

Where’s the outrage? 

Why does the world not find it intolerable that Hamas, presumably on its last legs, continues to target Israeli civilians after massacring 1200 of us on October 7? 

Do not Israeli civilians bleed as well? Why did the “world” ever find it tolerable? 

Why is Antony Blinken silent about this continued affront to civilization? And if the answer is that, well, the flow of rockets and missiles has decreased significantly in the last few weeks, why is any rocket or missile acceptable, and not worthy of a devastating response? What other country in the world is forced to tolerate missiles on its citizens – and receives no sympathy for it, no expression of outrage?

Pursuant to the much-vaunted “international law,” civilians caught in a war zone are entitled to leave, and the international community is obligated to find them safe passage to avoid the ravages of war. Such was done for more than five million Syrian civilians who fled Syria’s civil war in just the last decade, finding a haven in Europe and elsewhere. 

Why are such accommodations not afforded to Gazan refugees, far fewer in number than Syrian refugees? 

Why does “international law” not pertain to them, or is “international law” just a cynical, rhetorical cudgel to use against Israel? 

Where is the outrage? 

Where is the international effort to save these “civilians” or at least to condemn Hamas to the extent that they are not allowed safe passage out of Gaza?

Instead of affording these “civilians” the protections of “international law,” haters of Israel and their accomplices use the plight of these “civilians” to hamstring Israel and encroach on our right of self-defense. They are deliberately kept in the war zone in order that they should be killed – and some who try to flee have been killed by Hamas. 

So where is the outrage?

Even worse, in defiance of international law, Antony Blinken has trumpeted a number of conditions that are supposed to serve as the end game, the ultimate goal of the cessation of hostilities: the first – “no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza” – is hollow, as even voluntary displacement is denied them. 

What measures have been undertaken to aid the resettlement of Gazans out of the war zone – not north to south (which is only a few miles) but out of Gaza entirely? 

It is clear that the entire territory of Gaza, small as it is, is a center for terror. It is equally clear that Gaza will be uninhabitable for years. Why is the obvious solution – resettlement from the terror-infested war zone – not seriously contemplated? 

Where is the concern? Where is the outrage?

Blinken’s other conditions are equally farcical. “No use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism or other violent attacks,” which is a delusion if Israel is not responsible for security. Oh, “no reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict end,” so how will Israel ensure that Gaza does not revert to a terror center? Relying on “others” recalls PM Yitzchak Rabin’s Oslo fantasy that Yasser Arafat will crack down on terror better than Israel can because Arafat will not be encumbered by Israel’s Supreme Court. And how did that work out?

Furthermore, Blinken routinely intones, “no attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza,” which is an odd tactic if the goal is to preclude future terrorist activity. The day is nearing when Israel will be told that we must again allow concrete and metal back into Gaza for “construction purposes,” which has always meant the building of terror infrastructure. 

And finally, in the Blinken world view, “no reduction in the territory of Gaza.” In other words, there can be no victory for Israel and there should be no price paid by the aggressor. This is a classic recipe for stalemate, for conflict management, by the chief diplomat of a country that has not won a war in eighty years. It should be indulged in the short term – and then rejected for the repugnant absurdity that it is.

After all, Israel is now in the process of conquering Gaza for the third time. Israel first conquered Gaza in 1956 (and surrendered it under American pressure in 1957). Israel conquered Gaza again in 1967 (and surrendered it in a mindboggling act of folly, a self-inflicted wound, in 2005). How many times must we conquer the same land? How many soldiers must die over the same few kilometers? Where is the outrage?

There is no other country in the world that is expected to surrender to the aggressor the territory from which it was aggressed – and whose invasion was repeatedly repulsed. Why must Israel?

The question answers itself – we must not, and if we do, we have only ourselves and our weak leadership to blame. It is worse than insane – it is immoral to continue to coddle our enemies and restore to them the bases of their aggression, regardless of what “new leadership” is suddenly produced. After all, to do so means there is no price to be paid for attacking, for marauding, for murdering – and that simply incentivizes the next attack.

The mere suggestion of such a policy – the Blinken objective – is abhorrent. It will consign us to future invasions and wars, is the opposite of victory, and renders our suffering futile and our sacrifices pointless. Wars end when the aggressive enemy loses its territory and all hope of recovering it. The Blinken plan promotes stalemate, provides the enemy with hope and a way forward. And the enemy is not just Hamas – that is just today’s bogeyman

Israel was savaged in the international media for bombing “hospitals, schools, and mosques,” all venues touted by “international law” as sacrosanct, inviolable, and off limits to military activity because of their primary civilian purpose. In truth, the verbal attacks on Israel have somewhat subsided, once it became clear that each of these facilities were used for terrorist purposes, as weapons depots, rocket launching pads, and entrances to tunnels.

It is actually worse than that. 

The terror infrastructure was so extensive that it is patently obvious that these facilities were constructed as terrorist bases in the first place. In other words, a terror base was erected – with schools used as fronts. A terror center was established – with hospitals used as cover for their nefarious activities, with the doctors, administrators, and staff all Hamas operatives. Where is the outrage?

The time has come for Israel to define its ultimate objective in this conflict as victory, with all that entails – security, sovereignty, and settlement. We have become so accustomed to stalemate that we have no bigger picture, not even a clear expression of our strategic goals. Every war cannot end in a draw, tilling the soil for the next war. We should be rightly outraged as a nation that we have been forced to fight in Gaza repeatedly, win, leave, and then do it all over again, and again.

We cannot expect the world’s outrage or even recognition of its own hypocrisy. The biblical destiny of the Jewish people in G-d’s land is not yet universally acknowledged. Nonetheless, we can at least muster our own outrage – at the repeated retreats, at the failed “quiet for quiet” policy, at the political and diplomatic games played at the expense of the lives of our soldiers and civilians.

If we tolerate these outrages, the world community will demand that we continue to swallow one indignity after another, and never win. That is because its vision for our future is wholly different than what our vision should be. Certainly, we cannot thumb our noses at the world. What we must do, however, is define our ultimate interests, stand up for them and not back down, and achieve them. That is how nations act when they want to prevail and not simply stalemate. Then we will garner the respect we deserve from our friends, and gain even more allies.