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Why Israel? Why the Jews?

I was recently asked by someone to write my thoughts on the recent events that took place beginning on October 7th in Israel. I am not happy to do so, but I am willing to do so.

We need to begin with an understanding of the origins of both Israel and the Jewish people. This is the ultra-short version, and much more could (and should) be said about this fascinating history, which comes to our courtesy of the Bible, particularly the book of Genesis.

We begin with Abraham, who was promised great blessings from God regarding his posterity (Genesis 12:2-3).

Late in life, Abraham fathered a child with his wife Sarah who was named Isaac. Isaac was to be the head of a great nation, as Bible makes it clear that Isaac was favored of God (Genesis 21:12).

Isaac marries Rebekah and she becomes pregnant with twin boys. God tells her that the elder son, who turns out to be Esau, will be subordinate to the younger son, who is named Jacob (Genesis 25:23-26). Esau sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34).  Jacob later had his name changed to Israel by God Himself (Genesis 32:28).

Jacob, or Israel, had twelve sons. All of those sons could be said to be Israelites. One of these twelve was named Judah. Strictly speaking, all of the descendants of Judah are called the Jews. Thus, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews.

In addition to the name Israel being the new name given to Jacob, Israel also refers to the land that was identified anciently as Canaan, which was found in the lowland toward the Mediterranean coast of Palestine. Abraham had settled there at one time, and many divergent peoples lived in the region, along with Israelites, at various times.

The Israelites (including the Jews) have historically been mistreated through the ages. They had been slaves in Egypt until Moses freed them. They were abused and maligned by numerous groups and peoples for thousands of years, and during World Ward II millions of them were systematically gathered by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to be tortured, brutalized, and systematically murdered on a scale heretofore unprecedented, with about 6 million innocent Jews losing their lives in a most barbaric manner. During the Holocaust, about one-third of all Jews worldwide were slaughtered by the Nazis.

Fast forward to 1948. The United Nations, with support from the United States, agreed to a plan to grant statehood to the Jews in the location of their original homeland. Thus, the state of Israel was recognized by the United Nations and by the United States on May 14, 1948. Israel, consisting primarily of Jews, finally had their homeland. Palestinian Arabs have been offered the opportunity to attain statehood many times, and the offer has always been rejected.

To understand the basic positions held by the opposing parties in this ongoing conflict, a conflict with biblical precedents, one need only ask the two sides what they truly want. Israel wants to be left alone. This tiny nation, the only Democracy in the Middle East, about the size of New Jersey, simply wants to be allowed to live their lives.

What is the position of the Palestinians? What do they want? Only one thing: the destruction of Israel as a nation-state and the death of every Jew.

It’s difficult to negotiate in any sane way when those are the two opposing positions: Israel wants to exist, and the Palestinians want the complete and total destruction of Israel.

  • Since 1948, the Muslim world has attempted on a number of occasions to carry out their threat to eradicate Israel. And they wasted no time. A mere six months after Israel became a nation-state, when Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, along with the Palestinian militias, attacked Israel militarily. (It actually began, technically, as a “civil war” between Israel and a military coalition of Arab states that entered the territory of what had been British Palestine right after the British left the area. This took place the very day after Israel had issued their own Declaration of Independence on May 14th.) Israel soundly defeated their enemies.
  • In June 1967, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria (with assistance from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Algeria) launched an unprovoked attack on Israel. Israel crushed their enemies within six days, and in doing so, captured the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank of the Jordan River (including East Jerusalem), and the Golan Heights.
  • The War of Attrition was next, and involved Egypt, Jordan, Syria, the PLO, and forces from the USSR, in a vain attempt to recapture the Sinai Peninsula from Israel. They failed.
  • Egypt and Syria (along with other Arab states) conducted a surprise attack against Israel again in October 1973 on Yom Kippur, when the Israelis would seemingly be most vulnerable. Israel defeated the Arab coalition yet again.
  • There have been at least 15 additional attacks on Israel over the years, all of them initiated by Israel’s enemies. Israel has won all of those conflicts.

Lest one assume that Israel is obsessed with war, it would be well to remember that Israel has led the way with near-countless innovations that have benefitted the world. Israeli mathematicians have made dozens of discoveries in the math sciences. Israeli scientists have made significant contributions in the fields of chemistry, physics, optics, medicine, economics, biotechnology, agriculture, energy, theoretical computer science, computer hardware, software, and robotics, not to mention the profound innovation of their Iron Dome, along with dozens of other innovations in the field of national defense and aviation.

This brings us to the present moment. On October 7th, the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, with assistance from Iran and perhaps some additional Arab or Muslim nations, caught Israel asleep at the wheel by launching a surprise attack. After firing more than 5,000 rockets into Israel, thousands of armed Hamas fighters breached a border security fence and began indiscriminately shooting down Israeli citizens as well as soldiers. Other Hamas terrorists stormed Israeli beaches in motorboats and others flew in on paragliders. More than 1,400 Israelis were killed, mostly civilians, and over 4,500 Israelis were injured. More than 200 Israelis were taken hostage by Hamas.

But the details become gruesome. Hamas fighters employed the brutalities of Al Qaeda and ISIS, tying a parent to a child and then lighting them both on fire, which Hamas savages found to be a source of sick entertainment. They committed gang rapes of young Israeli women that were so brutal, the women experienced a collapse of their pelvis, only to then be butchered by knife-wielding killers. Israelis were beheaded, and Israeli babies were not spared this monstrous debauchery. And in fact, there are some verified accounts of Hamas brutality that are so depraved, I will not describe them here.

Suffice it to say that contrary to the method of “sneak attack” by Hamas, the Israeli Defense Force warns the citizens of Palestine to take cover before they start their counter-offensive. Hamas, in turn, fires a rocket that went off-course and landed right at one of their own hospitals, killing more than 500 people. Hamas, predictably, claims Israel is responsible for that rocket, and the mainstream media in America was all too gleeful to report that false claim.

Meanwhile, a significant portion of individuals within the United States and elsewhere showed where their loyalties lay. Here are some examples:

  • Influencer Kylie Jenner posted a story supportive of Israel on Instagram and then immediately deletes it after she was swarmed by radicals who make it clear they side with the monsters of Hamas. Hundreds of Pro-Palestinian supporters flooded the streets of New York City after a group that calls themselves Democratic Socialists of America organized the protest against Israel. They blamed Israel for the murderous rampage by Hamas on innocent Israeli citizens and added salt to the wound by displaying swastikas. These people chanted slogans supporting genocide against Israel.
  • In the political realm, Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan seemed to support the attack on Israel. Jew-hating Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, was asked if she had any comment about Hamas terrorists decapitating Israeli babies; she remained silent, refusing to answer the question. Jew-hating Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, posted a photo showing dead children and claimed it was a recent photo showing Israel military forces having killed innocent Palestinian children, even though the photo was a decade old, was from a totally different country (Syria), and that Israel had nothing to do with the death of those children. Jew-hating Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, accused Israel of war crimes, (and Turkey agrees with her) in spite of the fact that Hamas terrorists had instructions for using cyanide-based chemical bombs, information they received from Al Qaeda. In California, Richmond City Council drafted a resolution formally blaming Israel following the attack by Hamas. The United Nations Human Rights Council held a moment of silence in memory of the Palestinians who died, but would not honor the Israelis who died. Even the young climate activist Greta Thunberg made it clear she stands with Gaza, proving once and for all she understands nothing. And the U.S. Press Secretary insisted that the White House “has not seen any credible threats” against Jews in America, but she did claim that “Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks,” demonstrating she has no concerns about Jews but deep concerns about Palestinians.
  • From the world of education: Tessa Farmer, an associate professor of global studies at the University of Virginia offered extra credit to her students if they attended a protest against Israel. Jemma Decristo, who is on the faculty at UC Davis, posted a threat of violence against the children of what she referred to as “Zionist journalists.” A pro-Hamas public school teacher in New York City, Mohammad Jehad Ahmad, showed his support for the terror group by showing an image depicting a Hamas paraglider coming in to kill innocent Israelis, and then, in reflecting on the many dead Israelis, called the attack a “successful military campaign.” And Rachel Weber, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, refused to answer whether she condemns terrorism (because she doesn’t). At Cornell University, the Jewish community there received a wide range of violent threats on their life merely for being Jewish, with one threat calling for people to follow Jewish individuals to their homes and then slit their throats.
  • In the world of the media, while interviewing an American diplomat, a woman who works for Al Jazeera made it clear she believed that due to a land dispute, Israel deserved to have its citizens raped, tortured, and murdered. The diplomat was floored. The Washington Post put out a story initially claiming that Israeli women had merely been “detained” by Hamas. Not kidnaped, brutalized, raped, or tortured (if not murdered) but “detained.” The Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial cartoon that depicted Israel, the victim, as the aggressor and depicted Hamas, the aggressor, as the victim. A reporter for New York Magazine claimed it was an overstatement to charge Hamas with beheading infants. A CNN reporter claimed that the world is unfairly supportive of Israel.

So why all this Jew-Hatred? I think I know the answer. The Jews (and the children of Israel, or, if you prefer, the Hebrew people) were said in ancient times to be God’s chosen covenant people. This idea of being chosen is the primary grounds behind Muslim and Palestinian hatred of Israel. Just as Esau wished to kill his Israelite brother Jacob anciently, the hatred continues to this day. No one who hates Jews ever stops to consider the very real possibility (and, I would affirm, the reality) that the Jews/Israelites are indeed the chosen people of God. For whatever reason, God has chosen them. That in no way means the rest of us are rejected of God. But it does mean there is something peculiar, distinctive, and noteworthy about this fascinating group of people. That they have a perennial target on their back by some of the scummiest, ruthless, and most vicious individuals on earth is a testament to their uniqueness, their chosenness.

I stand with Israel.

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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