No time to lose
How can I help to destroy Hamas today?
The current crisis in Israel has thrown many of us in North America into paralysis. We worry about loved ones, we obsessively watch the news, we struggle to find ways to help.
If you are an ally of Israel there are really only two questions that ought to animate you right now. The first is, “How can I provide assistance to those in Israel who need it?” The Jewish community infrastructure is, sadly, built to respond to crisis, and if you didn’t give to your local federation before, now is the time to start.
The second question is, “How can I help to destroy Hamas today?”
I was gratified to see that Americans are firmly behind Israel right now, but this will not be a quick war. While author Dara Horn reminds us that people love dead Jews, the images of Jewish fatalities will fade and screens will feature dead Gazans, many of them civilians — not because they will be targeted, but because civilians inadvertently die in wars. While President Joe Biden’s speech demonstrated his strong resolve and should earn our loyalty and appreciation, that resolve will be challenged as time goes on and as the American public grows weary of yet another Middle Eastern war that they don’t understand.
And that’s where we come in. North American Jewry must be laser-focused (sorry Marjorie Taylor Greene) on helping Israel to defeat Hamas. How can I show my support to President Biden for his bold stand? How can I let my member of Congress know that this is the vital cause to support right now? How can I communicate support to my friends, my coworkers, my community? How can I support AIPAC and others who are toiling in these vineyards? What Israel needs is the time and the latitude to pursue Hamas until the job is done, not to have their actions regulated by arbitrary time constraints. America and her allies must give Israel that time and we must all support the U.S. government and strengthen their resolve in this matter.
I spoke with a friend in Israel last week and asked him how American Jews can help. He replied that we need to be willing to say that we stand with Israel unconditionally. That’s easy today, but every week it will get harder. The Talmud teaches us that we do no favors to the world when we are merciful to the wicked. The Jewish community has rightly condemned anyone who accuses people of being Nazis — it cheapens the uniqueness of the horror. Well, it took 78 years but we have finally found a group worthy of the title. The only difference between Hamas and the Nazis is the time they had available to do the job. The moral clarity the allies had in World War II should be ours today.
It is instructive that President Biden compared Hamas to ISIS. Hamas chose to act like ISIS and our response needs to mirror the American response to ISIS; to paraphrase New York Times columnist David French: not to punish it, but to defeat it.
No one is relishing what is about to happen in Gaza — except, perversely, Hamas. It will be difficult to watch. But I’m going to get up each morning, daven, and say proudly that I stand unequivocally with Israel. I hope you will join me.
Mark Charendoff is the president of the Maimonides Fund.