Navigating Campus Debates: Simplifying the Israel-Hamas Issue
| Published: October 24, 2023
We’re facing a serious problem on our university campus as we engage in debates with large pro-Palestinian groups regarding the war in Gaza. Do you have any suggestions?
Rabbi Ari Shvat answered:
It’s best to simplify the issue with two clear and undebatable (unless they’re anti-Semites) points:
First: The Israel Defense Force is by definition: defending when attacked, as opposed to Hamas, whose charter, by definition, unabashedly calls for the offensive eradication of the Jewish State. It’s like R. Yosef Albo (Sefer HaIkarim 4, 35) writes: that by man, the example of gevurah (strength) is like a champion boxer whose goal is to knock down his standing opponent, sending him to the hospital, as opposed to Hashem who is described as the exact opposite ‘אתה גיבור לעולם ה’ מחיה מתים אתה ורב להושיע, מחיה מתים… סומך נופלים, רופא חולים ומתיר אסורים’, ‘You are strong: reviving the dead, raising those who fall, healing the sick, saving the hostages’. Jewish heroism as seen through the Tanach is a life-giving gevura, as opposed to our enemies who idealize a life-taking gevura. During Operation Chomat Magen, while stationed in Arab Ramallah, I saw that the streets, avenues, parks, and traffic circles are named to glorify terrorists, where the more Jews that each killed, the greater his respective avenue! Contrarily, in the IDF, we teach Moreshet Krav (IDF history classes) educating the next generation’s soldiers through examples like company commander Ro’i Klein who saved his platoon in Lebanon by jumping on a grenade, i.e. life-giving gevura. Baruch Hashem we are the opposite of our enemies, but that doesn’t mean that we are less resolved or weaker!
Second: Everyone knows that if Hamas lays down their weapons there will be quiet, but if Israel lays down our weapons, we will be slaughtered, raped, and mutilated. Anyone who doesn’t see the difference is unobjective and not worth wasting time trying to convince.
With Love of Israel, Shabbat Shalom, Rav Ari