Unpack with YUPAC: Eicha Esa Levadi: Our Role in Ensuring Israel's Safety
Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a new Commentator column called Unpack with YUPAC developed in partnership with YUPAC, the Yeshiva University Political Action Club. This section will serve as a platform for students to express opinions on Israel policy and the U.S.-Israel relationship. Additionally, it will serve as a forum to feature issues and topics affecting the Jewish community at large, including terrorism, elections, antisemitism and relevant legislation.
For more information about YUPAC, to get involved, or to write for the section, email Allie Orgen at aorgen.mail.yu.edu or Jacob Schwartzman at email@example.com.
At 3 a.m. on a temperate morning in May 2021, my friends and I at Yeshivat Sha’alvim awoke to the sound of the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepting rockets fired towards Modiin (a neighboring city) by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists from the Gaza Strip. We were then ushered into the miklat (bomb shelter) on the fifth floor of the dormitory. On our way there my roommate and I quickly glanced out our window and saw another rocket intercepted by an Iron Dome missile. We all waited in the miklat for ten minutes and then headed back to sleep. The same routine continued for the rest of that week until a cease-fire was reached. Despite the fact that 1,100 rockets were mercilessly fired toward Israeli civilians within less than a week, we felt safe knowing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its defense systems were protecting us. As such, the limud Torah resumed as usual. Once again, the Iron Dome missile defense system protected Israeli citizens from a barrage of rockets fired by terrorists, as the world rained down a barrage of condemnation upon the State of Israel.
This past Erev Tisha B’Av, on Aug. 5, the rocket fire recommenced and the Iron Dome was put back into use. However, as we lamented the loneliness and isolation of Yerushalayim “Ha’Ir Rabati Am,” [Jerusalem, the city once full of people] our brothers and sisters in Israel were also alone and isolated in their bomb shelters with Megillat Eicha in hand. Their cries of “Lama LaNetzach Tishkacheinu; Ta’azveinu Le’Orech Yamim” [Why have You forgotten us utterly, forsaken us for all time?] (Eicha 5:20) should not go unanswered. The question is simple: What can students at Yeshiva University do to answer these cries?
If one were to research the history of this bloody, fierce and complex conflict, it would appear as if there is no clear end in sight. However, major improvements have been made to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens and many can be attributed to American supporters like students at Yeshiva University. We can undertake several important tasks that can greatly impact the safety of the Israeli people.
The first is voting for Congress members who are ardent supporters of Israel’s right to defend itself and who will continue to provide Israel with the necessary funds to do so. Israel is the greatest ally of the United States, and it is the only democratic country in the Middle East, which makes the country a valuable asset in a strategic region for U.S. intelligence. It is imperative to note that American funding for defense systems like the Iron Dome and David’s Sling has ensured survival and safety for millions of Israeli citizens. As Israel’s right to self-defense becomes a more partisan issue, our votes can make a difference.
The second is visiting Israel whenever possible. Religious reasons aside (though they are primary and unequivocally important), visiting Israel deepens one’s connection with and love for the land, culture and people. By visiting Israel, you can see the crisis first-hand, which will likely leave an indelible impression. Fostering love and care for the Israeli people along with concern about the predicament in Israel is valuable in and of itself.
The third is being informed and knowing the facts. Devote time each week to read up on the latest news in Israel and to brush up on the country’s short yet complex history. (A great place to start is by reading the Israel Report, which—I”YH—will be circulating throughout the Beren and Wilf campuses this coming year.)
Finally, it is crucial to inform others about the situation in a pleasant and tranquil manner. As BDS is on the rise amongst youth in America, our greatest enemy is ignorance. Most young Americans are not hostile towards Israel, but rather, are unaware of the issue entirely. Celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut, march in the Israel Day Parade and purchase Israeli products. Have discussions about Israel whether it be related to politics, culture or Torah. Make Israel a more significant part of your daily life and share that with others.
If we implement these solutions into our lives, then the next time our brothers and sisters are in their bomb shelters, they will know that they are safe and not alone.
Photo Caption: There’s a lot we can do to help ensure Israel’s safety
Photo Credit: Pixabay