September 22, 2016
Dear Friend of Israel
In a 2006 column for the Wall Street Journal, Professor Ruth R. Wisse told of an encounter with a New York taxi driver. When the driver inquired what language she had been speaking with her friend seated in back of the cab and she replied Hebrew, “the language of Israel,” the driver exclaimed, “Israel! That’s America’s fighting front line!”
There is much truth in this statement. It does not in any way denigrate the immense contribution the U.S. has made to world freedom – nor does it downplay the threat posed to the rest of the world by terrorism – to note that Israel stands at the front line of the war on terror. Surrounded as she is by nations and terrorist groups dedicated to her destruction, Israel has, since her founding, been fighting a battle against enemies who will use any tactic to sow death and destruction. We have been reminded of this difficult truth yet again this past week with a near-daily spate of stabbings and car rammings carried out by terrorists against Israelis.
Terrorists’ reach, of course, extends far beyond the Jewish state, a fact that hit home last weekend when bombs exploded in a New York City neighborhood, injuring 29, and pipe bombs were discovered near a train station and a Marine Corps charity run in New Jersey. And, in an attack that the ISIS terror group was quick to claim credit for, a knife-wielding attacker injured 10 people at a mall in Minnesota. Any illusions Americans may have had of being exempt from the threat of terrorism were again shattered.
I have said it before, but, sadly, in our day and age it always bears repeating: The fight against terrorism is the fight of all free men and women. Israelis, who have been fighting this battle for so many years, know this better than anyone. It is the fight of all who champion order and the rule of law over chaos, of all who believe personal liberty must prevail over oppression, of all who choose life over death. It transcends our political, personal, and national divisions. In this fight, complacency and inaction are our greatest enemies; unity and resolve are our greatest allies.
As the High Holy Days approach, and Jewish people around the world prepare to enter a time of repentance, prayer, and soul-searching, let us all resolve to stand strong in this fight against terror. The High Holy Days remind us that we are accountable to God for our lives and how we choose to live them. Today, let us choose life, and let us remain united with those on the frontlines who do so as well.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President