Local Jews react to violence

Published 10:22 pm Monday, November 19, 2012

Local Jews, reacting to ongoing violence in Israel and surrounding areas, this week defended Israel’s right to defend its homeland.

“The Israeli people want peace just like we want peace and the Palestinian people want peace,” said Robin Mancoll, director of the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

Israel has started retaliating against incessant rocket fires from neighboring Gaza, which is under the control of Hamas, a group designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. One of the airstrikes by the Israel Defense Forces killed a top Hamas military commander and a passenger in his vehicle.

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“Israel is showing great restraint,” Mancoll said Monday. But after more than 800 rockets fired into Israel from Gaza this year alone — and 250 since Nov. 14 — “It left Israel with no choice but to defend its citizens,” she said.

Mancoll said more than a million Israelis, Jews and Arabs live within strike range of the rockets. The attacks have caused fatalities on both sides — some of them children.

“It’s not even something that I think most of us can wrap our heads around,” she said.

In a statement issued by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the group supported Israel’s response.

“We staunchly support Israel’s right to defend her citizens,” the statement read. “We stand in solidarity with the Israeli people and their fight against terror, now as always.”

“Israel’s right to defend her citizens is non-negotiable,” added Alvin Wall, president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. “Israeli parents, like American parents — and Palestinian parents — seek a life in which children can live without fear.”

Mancoll said the group feels President Barack Obama’s administration has been responsive to the attacks.

“There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama was quoted in various news media as saying. “So, we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.”

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last week passed identical bills expressing support for Israel’s right to defend itself.

As it happens, the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is hosting an event next week to talk about morality, diplomacy and leadership in Israel. Dr. Amos Guiora, a former member of the Israel Defense Forces JAG Corps, will speak at 7 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Sandler Family Campus, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Virginia Beach.

For more information, visit www.jewishva.org.