Policy Papers from Metzilah Center
Children with Sick Hearts Abroad, Resources They Need in Israel
Right this moment, thousands of infants and children across the world are suffering from heart disease. Some of these children have access to the treatment that can help them. Unfortunately, many children do not. Many of these children suffer from congenital heart disease, which is responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects.
(Originally published in Ten Minutes of Torah and Galilee Diary)
Redemption of captives comes before other forms of tzedakah… and one who ignores the plight of the captive violates the commandment, “Do not stand idly by the blood of your fellow.” [Leviticus 19:16]. But we must not redeem the captive for an exorbitant price, in order not to distort the system and encourage our enemies to pursue us to capture us (to hold for ransom)…
-Maimonides (Rambam), Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the Poor 8:10-12
The quiet little rural community of Hila, about 30 minutes northwest of Shorashim, has become over the past five years, and especially over the past 24 hours, a focus of the entire nation’s attention. Five years ago a kid from Hila doing his army service on the Gaza border, Gilad Shalit, was captured by Hamas forces and secreted somewhere in Gaza. For five years the entire country has been absorbed in the personal drama of the Shalit family and the fate of Gilad. Today he was released in exchange for around 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, including a number who were involved in major terror attacks.
First appeared in Jewish People, Jewish Texts, Jewish Homeland.
Jonathan Boyd is the Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research
Sometimes it is just too hard to hold back the tears. Like during the unetaneh tokef of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur when contemplating the simple words “who will live and who will die; who at their predestined time and who not at their predestined time” and trying to come to terms with our extraordinary vulnerability. Or while singing hayom harat olam after hearing the blasts of the shofar on Rosh Hashana – “today is the day of the world’s creation” – and trying to behold just how beautiful our world can sometimes be. Or when watching our young children’s sheer delight on entering the sukkah for the first time and seeing the world for an all too brief moment through their eyes.
And then there is Gilad Shalit’s release. It’s impossible to imagine what he has endured for the past five years and four months since his capture. It seems that he was treated well and has returned in good physical health, but the psychological scars inflicted by living in near solitary confinement and in the knowledge that his life hung in the balance every single moment are just too much to contemplate. What his parents must have been through too is simply unimaginable – to have your own child taken away from you in that way and to live with the constant possibility of tragic news is too horrendous for words. I could not hold back the tears this morning upon hearing the news that he had been safely released; I have never met him or any members of his family, but the relief and gratitude I feel upon his return overwhelms every other emotion. Gilad Shalit is free.
My wife had to go to the shop yesterday with the manager of our local store. The store had been given instructions to stock up on basics – water, rice, and other staples. Why? In case there are ‘repercussions’ following the Palestinian bid for State recognition at the UN this week.
Our privileged position on the top of a Galilean hill, overlooking the large Jewish city of Carmiel and the Arab villages of Majd Al Krum, Ba’ne, and Dir El Assad, is sometimes seen as something of a strategic liability. Were our neighbors to ‘rise up’, we’d be rather isolated on the top of our picturesque hill.
We ended up having a beautiful Seder last week.
As the traditional leader of the Seder, I made an amazing discovery this year. You don’t need to always mix politics in with the ritual. Every Seder night we would end up in arguments about Gilad Shalit and Israeli policy towards Palestinian prisoners, or who is Pharaoh these days, and how we should relate to the ‘pour out your wrath’ bit.
Dear Mr. Waters,
I was deeply disappointed to learn that you have decided to build a wall between yourself and your Israeli fans. We love you here in Israel. Surely, you must know that from the warm reception you received when you performed here five years ago at the Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom.
What you may not realize is that most Israelis believe in a two-state solution. But this vision is not as easy to turn into a reality as you may think. Instead of recognizing the situation’s complexity, you have joined the campaign to boycott Israel, appointing yourself as a judge in a conflict between Middle Eastern tribes. (How British of you!)
“Apartheid,” today’s prime stigmatic code-word for racist evil, has become a potent weapon for delegitimizing and demonizing Israel, especially since it evokes the precedent of powerful external pressure in the form of boycott and sanctions as was applied against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Hence, in the propaganda war against Israel an equation is fabricated insidiously between the present State of Israel and the former apartheid state of South Africa.
This must be exposed as a malicious slander, and utterly refuted. It is also a crass abuse of the valuable lessons that might be learned from the odious apartheid experience of South Africa. There is no objective basis whatsoever for attributing to Israel the ideology, policies and praxis that were known as apartheid in South Africa. The historical context of white-black relations which spawned apartheid differs fundamentally from that in which conflict developed between Zionist Jews and Palestinian Arabs.
At Sinai, the Torah was handed down with its moral code, system of social justice and protections for minorities, and expressing the value of peace. A people was forged into a nation with the promise of a land. Israel was the heart of Jewish identity when the Children of Israel stood at Sinai.
It was at the heart of Jewish identity at the First Zionist Conference and remains at the heart of Jewish identity today. That is why I tolerate no denials of Israel as the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people. I attack the suggestion that Zionism is racist or that a Jewish state merits that malicious canard.
I advocate for Israel publicly and privately without fear. It is “my state” and advocacy is just one of the many ways in which I contribute to its well-being.
I am a “settler.” Because I am a settler, artists and members of the academic community – some of whom are my close friends – have decided to boycott my home. I am a settler, the archetypical Other of Israeli evil.
Otherness is the darling of people who hate. It allows people of every stripe, left, right and center, to dissociate from certain people as a dehumanized class without thought or regret, and to hate without pangs of guilt. Throughout history, Jews have played the role of Other. In the world community today, Israel itself often plays the role of Other. Now I am the Other. I am the Other because I am a “settler,” and in the eyes of some, that is what defines me.