Israel News

Difficult Questions about the Hamas-Israeli War

This is a re-post from Brett Stephens at the The New York Times

Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip in February.Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip in February.
Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

March 12, 2024

On Saturday, President Biden warned that Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to the war in Gaza was “hurting Israel more than helping Israel.” The Israeli prime minister replied the next day that Biden was “wrong.” The rift between the two leaders means that Israel risks losing its most important pillar of military and diplomatic support.

I’ve argued that Israel has no choice but to destroy Hamas as an effective fighting force. Here I imagine a conversation with an intelligent critic of that view.

Thousands of Gazan civilians, many of them children, have now been killed, bombed in their homes or out of them. Now they face a humanitarian catastrophe in the form of medicine and food shortages, even starvation.

How can you possibly justify it?

Like all wars, this one is horrible and heartbreaking. But I blame Hamas, not Israel, for the devastation.

Look, Hamas is a terrorist group whose leaders should face justice for the massacres of Oct. 7. But it isn’t Hamas’s bombs, missiles or artillery that have leveled Gaza. It’s Israel’s.

Right. And Hamas, which started the war, could put a halt to that rain of fire tomorrow. It rejected a six-week cease-fire that would have paused the fighting and allowed much more aid in exchange for the release of roughly 40 of the remaining 100 Israeli hostages. It could stop the fighting for good by simply surrendering.

Hamas may not want to stop the fighting, but there’s little we can do about that. Israel can stop its assault and thus spare Palestinian lives. And because Biden has leverage on Israel, he should use it.

The best way to get Hamas to stop fighting is to beat it. If Israel were to end the war now, with several Hamas battalions intact, at least four things would happen.

First, it would be impossible to set up a political authority in Gaza that isn’t Hamas: If the Palestinian Authority or local Gazans tried to do so, they wouldn’t live for long. Second, Hamas would reconstitute its military force as Hezbollah did in Lebanon after the 2006 war with Israel — and Hamas has promised to repeat the attacks of Oct. 7 “a second, a third, a fourth” time. Third, the Israeli hostages would be stuck in their awful captivity indefinitely.

Fourth, there would never be a Palestinian state. No Israeli government is going to agree to a Palestinian state in the West Bank if it risks resembling Gaza.

All that is speculative. The reality is that children are hungry, the sick aren’t getting medicine, innocent Palestinians are being killed, now. It’s wrong to avert theoretical harms by causing actual ones.

It might be more speculative if this weren’t the fifth major war that Hamas has provoked since it seized power in Gaza in 2007. After each war, Hamas’s capabilities have grown stronger and its ambitions bolder. At some point this had to end; for Israelis, Oct. 7 was that point.

Maybe, but why can’t Israel be much more judicious in its use of force?

Do you have any specific suggestions for how Israel can defeat Hamas while being more sparing of civilians?

I’m not a military expert.

I’ve noticed that whenever Israel’s critics lecture the country on better calibrating its use of force, they don’t have any concrete suggestions. Are Israelis smart enough to fight better, but too stupid to appreciate the diplomatic consequences of not doing so?

Maybe they’re thirsty for vengeance.

The reality of urban warfare is that it’s exceptionally costly and difficult. The United States under Barack Obama and Donald Trump spent nine months helping Iraqi forces flatten the city of Mosul to defeat ISIS, with results that looked even worse than Gaza does today. I don’t remember calls for “Cease-Fire Now” then. Hamas has made it even more difficult for Israel because, instead of sheltering civilians in its immense network of tunnels, it shelters itself.

Even so, that doesn’t relieve Israel of the obligation to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

It’s not as if Israel is not lifting a finger. On Sunday alone, 225 truckloads of aid entered Gaza through Israel, according to the Israeli military. But you seem to think that the government of Israel’s primary responsibility is to the welfare of the people of Gaza. It isn’t. As with any government, its obligations are to its own people.

Israelis are mostly doing fine now. It’s Palestinians who are dying.

Israel has spent the last five months degrading Hamas’s military capabilities to the point that it seems to have run out of rockets to fire at Israel. And around 200,000 Israelis are living as refugeesinside their own country because its borders aren’t secure. No country can tolerate that. Israel didn’t come into existence to showcase the victimization of Jews. It came into existence to end their victimization.

Well, since you’re alluding to the Holocaust, it surely can’t be in Israel’s interests to be seen perpetrating a version of it in Gaza. Just look at the worldwide explosion of antisemitism since Oct. 7.

That analogy is false and offensive on many levels. Israel is fighting a war it didn’t seek, against an enemy sworn to its destruction and holding scores of its citizens hostage. If Israel had wanted to wipe out Gazans as Germans sought to wipe out Jews, it could have done so on the first day of the war. Israel is fighting a tough war against an evil enemy that puts its own civilians in harm’s way. Maybe there should be more public pressure on Hamas to surrender than on Israel to save Hamas from the consequences of its actions.

As for antisemitism, the war hasn’t generated a torrent of antisemitism so much as it has exposed it.

Probably a mix of the two. Still, you make the mistake of imagining that Hamas can be defeated. You can’t kill an idea, particularly by generating the terrible resentments that are surely brewing in Gaza and throughout the Arab world.

By that logic, the Allies should have spared Germany because National Socialism was also an idea. You may not be able to kill an idea but you can defang it, just as you can persuade future generations that some ideas have terrible consequences for those who espouse them.

So what do you suggest the Biden administration do?

Help Israel win the war decisively so that Israelis and Palestinians can someday win the peace.

Difficult Questions about the Hamas-Israeli War Read More »

Another devastating day in Israel

Ongoing conflict in Israel

According to AIPAC (the American-Israel Political Action Committee) "today was another devastating day in Israel as the death count grew to 1,200 people, the population equivalent of 48,000 Americans. The IDF has announced that 189 soldiers are among those killed." The unrestrained brutality of Hamas is mind-boggling - entire families murdered, in some cases burned alive, and in many cases decapitated. Many young men, women, and children were taken hostage, and women were raped. Many of those who support the "Palestinians" in the United States and in other countries around the world rejoice at the cruelty, hatred, and wholesale slaughter of innocent lives and justify these actions on behalf of their "cause."
We've posted a few videos on our website to keep you "posted" regarding what is going on in Israel and to hear from people living through it. In some cases, like the videos produced by Praeger U or the one showing support for Israel in various places around the world, they are intended to help those of us who live outside of Israel better understand what is happening there and support Israel in whatever way we can.
The other video is connected to a powerful speech by President Biden as he shares his thoughts regarding these events.
Please check back frequently, as we will also post additional videos. We want everyone to know what is really going on - through the eyes of those living through it.
Warm regards. Bob

Videos on the conflict in Israel

Another devastating day in Israel Read More »

The Untold Story of Judea

This is a re-post from The Land of Israel Network

Shalom Friends!

This is the most important video I've ever made.

It is the story of how my family, my wife and six children, sold our home and most of our possessions to settle the most strategic area at the edge of Jewish settlement in Judea.

What happens in Israel now will effect the future of Israel for generations to come... and we wanted to do our part.

After six years of struggle and miraculous achievements, we see that we can't do this alone. If you can, please watch this video and consider joining us, and help bring us to victory.


Blessings from the Mountain of Judea!

The Untold Story of Judea Read More »

Israeli Farmers Are Bringing the Bible to Life in Biblical Judea

This is a re-post from  CBN News YouTube Channel

THE ARUGOT FARM, JUDEA — Much of the world calls the land of Judea and Samaria the West Bank. To many Christians and especially the Jews living there, it’s considered the land of the Bible.

Resting on Judean hills not far from Jerusalem lies the Arugot Farm. For six years, its founders have built a complex on land where previously there was just barren hills. Located in Judea, its founders, Rabbis Jeremy Gimpel and Avi Abrimovitz, see this place as the Bible coming to life.

Israeli Farmers Are Bringing the Bible to Life in Biblical Judea Read More »

George Floyd and the Healing of America

This is a re-post from

Finally, I got myself to watch the video. And I saw something I had never seen before in a lifetime.

Slowly, coldly— “callously” does not do justice—not as a man kills an animal or even swats a fly, but as a man puts out a smoldering campfire before falling asleep, so a man snuffed out the soul of another human being.

There could be no more fatal error than this, to believe we are helpless before ourselves, that we are incapable of healing America’s wound.

A man in uniform, sworn to serve and protect.

And, for the life of me, I could not imagine this scene had the neck squeezed to the pavement not been that of a black man.

It became clear as the sunshine that to this man, this black man’s life was not a life at all.


We are all outraged. Is there any decent human being who has seen the video of George Floyd’s life being taken from him, who has heard his unanswered whispers for help, “I can’t breathe!” and is not outraged? It is not possible.

We are outraged because the very weight of authority tasked with protecting life was instead applied to crush the life force from a living human body.

We are outraged because a police officer assaulted more than one single man—he assaulted the spark of conscience that renders us all human.

We are outraged because, as George Floyd’s breath was robbed away, something essential to all of us was lost—the breath of the divine that renders every life sacred.

We are humanity, united by our divine image. We are America, guided by our ideals.

But, most painfully, we are outraged because this story of brutal indifference to human life, this preponderance of authority over our right to breathe, is not new, but one that perpetuates itself recursively, like a malicious virus that embeds itself into our cells, as though it belongs there, as though it is just another product of our DNA built in so that we can destroy ourselves.

And there could be no more fatal error than this, to believe we are helpless before ourselves, that we are incapable of uprooting racism for good.


America needs healing.

When there is a rift in a living body between one limb and the other, do not tell the limb it must heal itself; speak to the body that must pull itself back together.

So too, America can only heal herself by her people joining together as one, by learning to see one another as we have never seen one another before.

We all want to end the crime of human oppression, in all its many incarnations.

Bodily or psychological assault by an individual hired to serve and protect every one of us is only one of its sordid faces.

The pervasive degradation of human dignity through racism and stereotyping is another.

And then there is the fatal assault upon the divine image within each individual perpetrated by a criminal justice system that could be healing, educating, standing young lives back on their feet, granting human beings another chance, but instead perpetuates and intensifies the cycles of dehumanization, violence and crime.

It hurts. We scream. But how and to where do we channel that scream?

The right and the efficacy of civil protest is fundamental to American society. But we, the outraged, the pained, we must realize that wanton destruction is not a path to transformation, for one who destroys his world destroys himself. Smashing a store window, burning down city hall, wrecking a grandmother’s grocery store, or ruining the businesses that are central to all of our livelihoods cannot bring America lasting good.

Wrecking a grandmother’s grocery store, ruining the businesses that are central to our livelihoods—why are we burning down our own house?

But if violence is not the answer and peaceful demonstration seems nearly futile, if so many have lost their ability to see anyone who votes or thinks differently than themselves as fellow human beings entitled to their own perspectives, but as deadly enemies in a very un-civil war, is there any way left out of this?


You may have seen the video going around of the Rebbe speaking with Mayor David Dinkins in the aftermath of the Crown Heights riots of 1991. That’s the one in which the Rebbe insists that “the two sides are one side, one people, united by the management of one city.”

There is so much to be learned from those few, seemingly simple words. So much that those words can accomplish, because words create realities, and by changing the way we speak, we can change the world around us.

By learning to see one another as we have never seen one another before…getting past the dialectic of us and them.

As long as we continue to speak a dialectic of us and them, we perpetuate the divisions between us by perpetuating an illusion: That we are not one.

We can shift the paradigm.

We can transcend the illusion of us and them.

We can begin to see, begin to feel that this entity we call they is us. We are them. Which is really all that is meant by the motto inscribed upon our dollar bills, “E Pluribus Unum”— “Out of the many, one.”

We are one. We can recognize that we all share the same life-giving breath of the One Creator. And it is precisely out of the magnificence of our diversity that the image of the One who has no image is revealed.


We are humanity, united by our divine image. We are America, guided by our ideals.

Our diversity is not an obstruction to our unity, but a formula to be celebrated for the strength, the beauty and the wealth it gives us.

Our diversity is not an obstruction to our unity, but a formula to be celebrated for the strength, the beauty and the wealth it gives us.

Let’s speak that way. Act that way. Build that way. Let all around us hear and see and know where our heart lies. If we speak, think and act as one we can change the course of history forever for the better.

We are one. We must grieve together. We must build a new reality together.


==breathe. think. speak. build.==

By Tzvi Freeman

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George Floyd and the Healing of America Read More »

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