Arlene from Israel – “The Ikar”

“The Ikar” (the essence of the matter)

Tomorrow night my eldest granddaughter goes off with her class to Poland for a week, to visit death camps and related sites.  In Israel doing this is a rite of passage.  She and her 12th grade classmates have been exceedingly well prepared.  I was with her for Shabbat, and I told her that I will wait, once she returns, for her to let me know she is ready to speak with me about her experience.  She thanked me for this, saying that she suspects in the beginning she will be so filled with powerful emotions that there will not yet be any way for her to speak about them.

So, why put these kids through this?

Because it IS the Ikar, and never has this fact been more clear.  We’re looking at an existential issue for Jews, and not “just” history.  The year 2014 is shaping up more and more like 1938, as antisemitism – including in its violent manifestations – becomes more “acceptable.”

But there is one stunning and essential difference: Today there is an Israel.

Would that every young Jew in the world would grasp this reality.  But what matters most is that young Israelis comprehend it.  And they do.


Credit: Jewishmiracles

Commentator Michael Freund touched me deeply when he wrote recently about his son’s army service, in “The holiness of the IDF uniform.”  In this meditative essay, he described his brief moment of panic, when he realized that his son, who was about to serve in the IDF, might have been going to college in the US instead, had his family not made aliyah when he was one year old.

But then, very quickly, he saw an overwhelmingly significant reality about the IDF uniform and what it represents (emphasis added):

“It is a piece of Jewish history, an item that countless Jews for the past 2,000 years could only dream of: A Jewish uniform that belongs to a Jewish army tasked with defending Jews in their own land.

“What could possibly be more holy?”


To defend our people and our land is our moral imperative.  Most especially to defend it against those such as Hamas who incorporate into their ideology destruction of Israel and the Jews.

Our right to do this should be a “no brainer.”  And yet we are besieged by those who – as Prime Minister Netanyahu has so often pointed out – grant us that right in principle but rush to block our ability to actually exercise it.  They readily seek to cripple our self-defense, even in the face of our existential threat: monitoring us as no other nation in the world has ever been monitored, critiquing what they have absolutely no right to critique, and talking about “international law” that is largely invented.


Today, in my own meditative mood, I realized how I’ve begun to be tangled in my writing – which attempts to describe this deplorable situation, again and again and again. It is not clean and clear; it is forever convoluted.  How it wearies the soul.


They are still launching rockets, my friends.  Hamas has not let up.  In the last 24 hours, there have been some 100 rockets – launched at Be’ersheva and Ashkelon and Ashdod.  In the communities closest to the Gaza border, in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. In the region of Tel Aviv – with sirens sounding in Rishon Lezion, Holon, Yehud, Givatayim, and Bat Yam.

Yesterday, little four-year old Daniel Tragerman, of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, was killed by mortar fire emanating from Gaza.  His parents were in process of preparing to leave the kibbutz when he was hit.  He simply didn’t make it to a shelter in time.  The barrage on Nahal Oz was heavy.



This cannot stand.  This must not stand.



Egypt is planning on extending invitations to all parties to return to Cairo for more negotiations.  The Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu and al-Sisi of Egypt speak frequently and at length.  But unless I’m really missing something, the notion of more negotiations with Hamas is simply nonsense. Hamas – which has demonstrated its failure to honor commitments again and again – says they will return on their terms only.

Is there any effective alternative to another ground invasion?

Is there a plan that the government has to bring this situation to an effective end?

Are the members of our government prepared to turn their backs to those who critique us and monitor us, and finally sanction a non-holds barred response – even in terms of attacks by air – that puts an end to this situation?


The residents of the south have had it. They’re leaving in large numbers.  What they are being told by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has got to be less then reassuring.  After Shabbat tonight, I picked up various sources who cited his comments today – and I turned away deeply unsettled:

“The goal of the [Israeli] decision makers is to bring Hamas to the negotiation table in Cairo under terms that Israel decides, and to achieve a ceasefire deal as demanded by Jerusalem,”

That’s it?  I’m assuming for the moment that there is likely more, as yet unspoken.

Hamas will not agree to Israel’s terms until it has been defeated.  The goal, then, it seems to me, is not bringing Hamas to the table, but defeating it.

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), who is a member of the Security Cabinet, said today that a serious ground invasion is being considered:

“Has the final decision been made? No, but we are closer to it than we have ever been before.

“Hamas continues a war of attrition and we are pounding them by air, but this is not a situation that can persist for weeks.  The purpose of a ground offensive could be retaking Gaza fully and the collapse of Hamas rule, or specific attacks on the organization itself.”


There have been a handful of rockets launched from Lebanon into the Galil tonight.


I’ve been advised by someone considerably in the know with regard to the PA, that Abbas’s motivation at present is “staying relevant.”  He must appear to be a player of significance so that he is factored into future situations and does not simply get lost.  Perhaps.  Abbas is playing it to the hilt – great buddies with Mashaal of Hamas as they plan mutually for attempting to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. Contact:

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


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One comment

  1. As I read this Commentator’s post, I notice she touches on subject matter I constantly think about when reading and dissecting matters related to the Gaza hostilities…and why it is allowed to continue.

    Specifically, the questions she poses are the same as I think…Is there a (definitive) plan to bring Hamas’s control to a conclusion.

    Why, apart from the undoubted collateral carnage that it would cause to Gazan Arabs, which in all truth shouldn’t be a consideration at all, do the powers that be consider using feet on the ground Israeli troops in lieu of sustained aerial assault of/on Gaza…a capability, if what I am lead to believe, Israel has in abundance and capacity…be it in the form of static positioned cannon; tank/artillery pieces, along with airborne gunships/fighter bomber aircraft, married up against what is a very small geographic spread of land that Gaza truly is….i.e. aerially bombing Gaza in to non-existence.

    I am not a war monger by any means, though I see the long term loss of life as equal to, if not more so, by the protracted drawn out operations that are, and have been in vogue for some years now…in respect of Gaza.

    At times I think Israel is hell bent on fighting a ‘gentleman’s war’, akin to the Englishmen of WW1, when using their troops; their own and from the Dominions, as cannon fodder…given 64/65 young Israeli soldiers have already perished in this latest round of ‘hostilities’ – for the want of a better word. Why sacrifice one more?

    Occasionally I sense that Israel overly concerns itself with International opinion/pressure…in it’s near apologetic media releases, and over reaching precision targeting, and at times over indulged humanitarian assistance to the Savages. My personal opinion is that the Islamic/Arab World is going to scream it’s head off..for a period, and then that shall be end of it….including Abbas stowing his War Crimes rhetoric where the sun doesn’t shine…that being one joke that will never get off the ground.

    The World will think no better, or no less of Israel….World participants are pretty well entrenched in this regard!

    Israel’s leaders need to look at the like of China and Tibet, Russian Ukrainian Nationalists and Crimea, Eastern Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukraine along with Assad and the battles he is having with his Savages…and now Iraq and Syrian Savages per the Levant and ISIS. The World jumps up and down…then the World decides just to continue on. For my thought process, the only immediate threat Israel faces is the mad dog running Turkey…and even he is somewhat harnessed for the moment at least.

    Undoubtedly those in charge in Israel know a lot more than I would…though it is a little thought provoking, more so when the Defence Minister makes oblique commentary surrounding a hopeful prospect of bringing Hamas to the ‘peace table’…once again, as has been reported outside of this post also….which therein lies the most critical feature of the whole matter….Hamas are Islamic Savages…and Islam has no intention of EVER making peace with Israel…this side of the second coming of our Creator….surely Israeli leaders would know this, if I am aware of it!