The Indomitable Spirit of Israel
July 19, 2016
Dear Friend of The Fellowship,
Ten years ago, on July 12, 2006, the Second Lebanon War began when the Hezbollah militant group attacked Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers patrolling the Lebanon border. Eight Israeli soldiers were killed, and two, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, were kidnapped. After two years of torturing their families with uncertainty about their fates – Israeli officials did not know whether the prisoners were alive or dead – the dead bodies of these two young men were returned to Israel in coffins, swapped for five terrorists held in Israeli jails, including Samir Kuntar, who was responsible for one of the most monstrous attacks in Israel’s history.
The July 12 attack was a naked act of aggression that plunged Israel into all-out war. By the time a United Nations-brokered ceasefire was in place a month later, Hezbollah had fired nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel, causing great suffering and widespread devastation. One hundred and sixty Israelis were killed. Over 4,000 were injured, and hundreds of thousands displaced. More than one million Israelis were forced to live in bomb shelters, in some cases for more than a month. These bomb shelters had been unused for years, and were terribly run-down. Conditions in many were nearly unlivable.
Much has changed in the Middle East since the Second Lebanon War, though the fundamental conflict between Israel and her neighbours remains the same. Wars and innumerable attacks have occurred since, and radical extremism has gained an even stronger foothold in the area.
Still, as I look back at the Second Lebanon War and the pain it caused, I remember heartening things as well. I recall the indomitable spirit of the Israeli people – a spirt that I saw in neighbours helping neighbours, in people displaying courage under fire, in people showing calm when faced with unbearable circumstances. I also recall how quickly and generously Fellowship supporters responded to our calls for emergency assistance.
Because of this outpouring of compassion, The Fellowship was able to be on the ground to provide basic necessities and give extensive individual assistance to thousands of people and families in distress. Beyond this, tens of thousands of people joined us in prayer for Israel’s peace and well-being. Despite the terrible uncertainty we felt during a time of war, this outpouring of love for Israel and her people was a great blessing, and reinforced for all of us at The Fellowship the incredible commitment that our supporters have to Israel’s peace and security.
The Psalmist wrote, “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6–7). Many believe that a future war against may be unavoidable. No one in Israel hopes for war. But let us pray that the next war, if it must come, ends with a decisive defeat against those who want to inflict harm on us, and that Israel’s northern border will be peaceful once and for all.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein