By Derek Gale, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
We’ve Seen This Before
Hamas launching rockets into Israel, is, unfortunately, not new. The pure number and the distance they are traveling—to the center of Israel—has not been seen since July 2014—when I was in central Israel taking shelter with each siren. But this is not new. We’ve seen this before. And it will not be the last time this occurs. Hamas has its reasons for the rocket attacks. Such attacks are never justified in any way, of course, but Hamas doesn’t operate within any constraints—it is a terrorist organization that will use any means necessary to work toward its desired ends. We know what to expect from such an organization, and we know it will not stop or change for the better. Still, we cannot live in fear.
This Is Cause For Great Concern
Violent protests, riots, Molotov cocktails, setting fires, destruction of businesses, destruction of houses of study and houses of worship, mobs chasing and beating individuals, and shootings—all of which have taken place in mixed cities in Israel, from Acco and Haifa to Lod and Ramle (Kansas City’s sister city and our Jewish community’s partnership city)—are cause for great concern. A lot of good people have invested years of time and many organizations—including our own Jewish Federation—have invested significant sums of money in programs built around dialogue, shared citizenship and peaceful coexistence. To see all of that work and investment literally go up in flames is heartbreaking. There will be no short or simple path back to the place we thought we were in those cities—and time may not fully heal these wounds. Still, we cannot live in fear.
So What Now?
Because we are invested in the welfare of all residents of Ramle—and have been for going on two dozen years—we will work with our community representative in Israel, Hannah Soltz Aharony, to find both existing and new interventions and proposed solutions that we believe will have real impact in repairing relationships and moving that city toward a peaceful future. The same is true about our investment in Israel more widely, via our core overseas partner organizations—the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee—we will continue to see to the welfare of vulnerable populations, with the hope of a brighter future for all.
No matter how you are feeling at the moment—upset, angry, frightened for loved ones in Israel, frustrated, or hopeless even—we hope you will join us in being invested in the future of Israel and its cities and communities. We hope you will join us on a mission to Israel next year that will include a visit to our partnership city—the mixed city of Ramle. What other choice do we have? Throwing up our arms in despair is action with no impact; throwing our arms around our brothers and sisters halfway around the world just might change lives.
“Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu”—Peace will come upon us, yet.