Sending a 17 Year-Old Child to Israel

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My 17 year old son Solomon arrived in Israel today, about 4 hours before Israeli soldiers found the murdered bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel in a field less than 12 miles from the place from which they had been kidnapped 18 days ago. They had apparently been shot soon after being taken captive. Solomon is participating in the Ramah Israel Seminar, and I should have no worries about his safety in Israel – Ramah is fanatical about the safety of participants on their programs. Nonetheless, I cannot help but feel a twinge of worry. Israel is going to respond, and the response has to punish not only the two Hamas members responsible, but also others involved in covering up their actions and hiding them. I am distressed that Solomon’s Israel experience will be scarred not only by tremendous sadness, but also by the military response that is bound to occur.

This is not the blog post I had intended to write today. I had intended to write about the experience of sending a blind son on an Israel program, with lavish praise for the Ramah Israel Seminar and the director, Rabbi Ed Snitkoff, for making it happen. That post will have to come later. Today’s emotions are distress, disappointment, anger, and despair.

I am deeply disappointed that despite the horrific nature of the crime (and the fact that one of the boys is American as well as Israeli), it took President Obama nearly 7 hours to make a statement; and while he “strongly condemned” the murders, he also called upon the Israeli government to refrain from taking “steps that could further destabilize the situation.” What steps should be taken against people who kidnapped and tied up three boys, shot them, and left them half-buried under some rocks in a remote Wadi? Is there any way to take even the justified step of finding and arresting the suspects without “further destabilizing the situation?” The President offers US help in finding the perpetrators of this crime (although I wonder how US forces can be more effective than Israeli forces), and says that Israel has the full support and friendship of the US government, but doesn’t want Israel to take steps that might destabilize a situation that cannot reasonably be described as anything resembling stable.

To my Presbyterian friends – do you realize that while your national organization was passing a resolution of boycotts and sanctions against Israel, shortly after the Palestinian Authority was creating a unity partnership government with Hamas, three teenage boys were being murdered? When will we see you call for sanctions again those who perpetrate and support such a crime? Are you as angry as I am at the ineptitude of your leadership’s moral judgement?

Finally, as a person who still wants to believe that it will be possible to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians in my lifetime, I begin to despair that I will ever see Israeli and the Palestinian areas coexisting in security and prosperity.

May the families of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach be comforted among the mourners of Zion, and may their memories be for a blessing.

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5 thoughts on “Sending a 17 Year-Old Child to Israel

  1. As a protestant Christian I am so sorry to hear of the actions of the Presbyterians. There are many Christians who stand with, love and support Israel, including me. I am so sorry to hear about the three boys. G-d bless you and your son.

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  2. In this time of sorrow, disappointment, and frustration, let’s not forget Salomon who has achieved his spiritual dream of making to Ramah, and trust that G-d is bound to make his staying in Israel a blessing. I also want to ask that we gather all the strengh that we can gather to direct our prayers to all those who are killed and tortured unjustly or let to perish by hunger every day.

    G-d bless your family, rabbi.

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  3. Reblogged this on Coffee Shop Rabbi and commented:
    This father and rabbi vocalized much of what I’ve been thinking today as the news came of the murders of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. “Distress, disappointment anger and despair” describe my feelings, too.

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  4. Rabbi, you have every right to feel everything you are saying, and I hope your impassioned words don’t fall on deaf ears. I also feel angry on the White House’s stance, and totally understand your anxiety as a parent, and your frustration at the seemingly never ending inability for peaceful co-existence between Israel and Palestine. The Presbyterian take on this is embarrassing.

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