Judaism's highest value is human life. Every life. There is no difference between a Jewish life and a Palestinian life. All are of infinite value before G-d. All are equal. As a Jew and as a Rabbi I proclaim loudly and unapologetically that I see all Arabs as my brothers under G-d. We are all one human family and all are created equally in G-d's image, just as the Jewish Bible declares.
As a Rabbi, I was deeply saddened at the outcome of the so-called 'peace' flotilla, which turned out to contain a large contingent of violent thugs whose only interest it was to provoke Israel. Still, nine dead is a terrible tragedy. We mourn this painful outcome.
But once again the world's hypocrisy and double standards vis-à-vis Israel are on full display. In Kingstown, Jamaica scores of civilians have tragically died over the last few days as government forces battle violent killers intent on protecting a drug lord. Would anyone suggest the government allow its soldiers to be mowed down by cartel killers?
Like any government, Israel's first priority is to protect its citizens from brutality and murder. It has no choice but to defend itself against violent protesters who try and murder its soldiers by attacking them with knives and clubs and hurling them thirty feet to near-certain death. Facts are stubborn things and the videos of the assault against Israel's soldiers are posted on the Internet for all to see.
No government is going to order its soldiers to remain idle while they are torn limb from limb. In America Monday was Memorial Day today. We reflect on those who paid the ultimate price for American freedom. But we also recommit to protecting the lives of those who continue to battle so that the rest of us can remain free.
The sad fact is that Hamas is a terrorist organization hell-bent on killing as many Israeli men, women, and children as possible. It would be suicide for Israel to lift the naval blockade on Gaza and allow weapons and war materials to enter so that they can be used to blow up babies. Is there any country on earth that would allow guns and missiles to be delivered to its doorstep to slaughter its citizens?
Sadly, rather than choose to build necessary infrastructure in Gaza that would benefit the Palestinians, Hamas has turned Gaza into a giant terrorist launching pad for rockets against Israel.
Israel withdrew every one of its citizens and soldiers from Gaza five years ago. But Hamas used the withdrawal not to build hospitals, universities, and schools but to turn Gaza into a terrorist rocket launching pad.
Hamas is a cruel and violent organization that regularly lynches, without even the semblance of a trial, Palestinians whom it accuses of working with Israel. It is a murderous gang whose commitment is not to helping Palestinians but to killing Jews. Israel must continue to ensure that no arms reach Hamas. And until such time as Hamas renounces their violent intent to exterminate the Jewish state, incidents like these, in which enemies of Israel stage violent demonstrations under the guise of peace will no doubt continue.
Enemies of Israel accuse American Jewry of blindly supporting the Jewish state. Nothing could be further from the truth. Did American Jewry support the Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 innocent Palestinians? No. We called it what it was. An abomination against G-d and man. But incidents like these almost never happen. And when they do, the killers not only don't become heroes to us Jews, their memories are anathema to Israelis and Jews the world over. But acting in self-defense is vastly different.
Israel is a country struggling for its very survival. No other country on earth is surrounded by enemies like Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas each of whom are publicly sworn to Israel's destruction. Should there be no international pressure on these groups to renounce their violent intent? Is it that hard to understand that American Jewry sees the act of always blaming democratic Israel while letting murderous Hamas off the hook as prejudiced and hypocritical?
I don't want to wake up to news, as I did this morning, that Israel has once again been forced into a terrible choice between protecting its citizens and soldiers and stopping their assailants. But Jewish life is also valuable. And we should not expect twenty-year-old soldiers to stand by passively as mobs try and stab them to death.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network. His newest book is 'Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.' www.shmuley.com