July 18, 2018
Dear Friend of Israel,
It is one of the most poignant and moving verses in all Scripture: “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6-7).
History has forced Israel to accept this harsh truth. Since her founding in 1948, Israel has longed for peace, and has been willing to make painful concessions to achieve it. But her enemies have remained stubbornly committed to hatred, terror, and bloodshed.
The threats come from all sides, but are particularly acute in southern Israel, where Israelis have lived for years with the daily reality of rockets and mortars fired by terrorists from Gaza. And now, in addition to rockets and mortars, diabolical terrorists have turned ordinary children’s toys – kites and balloons – into weapons of war and destruction, incendiary devices that have caused untold damage to Israeli farmland, forests, and property.
Israelis long to live normal lives. Like all people of goodwill, they want to live and raise their children in a country free from war and terrorism. But they temper their hope with realism. Israelis know better than to trust their enemies. If Hamas and its terrorist allies truly wanted peace, it could have been achieved years ago.
It is appropriate that the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, which begins on July 21 at sundown, occurs in the midst of the latest surge of violence. Tisha B’Av is a day of fasting and prayer – of solemnity, sorrow, and remembrance. Throughout history, many catastrophes have befallen the Jewish people on this day, including the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.
And yet, we hope. We commemorate past tragedies not to wallow in our grief, and certainly not to ask for pity, but to remember and honor the things God has blessed us with. By remembering our past tragedies and struggles, we are reminded that the very survival of the Jewish people and the Jewish nation is indeed a miracle, a gift from God.
Too long has Israel lived among those who hate peace; we are for peace, but when we speak, honestly extending our hand in search of compromise, they are for war. Yet we will continue to seek that peace – God’s great gift of shalom – and pray for the day that peace will cover this troubled region, and will spread around the entire world.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President