2018-04-25 / Editorial

On its 70th anniversary, support for Israel remains vital

EDITORIALS…

This has been a time of jubilant celebration of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, in Israel, in South Jersey, and worldwide. Truly, the rebirth of the Jewish state in modern times and its many achievements, are nothing short of miraculous. Yet it is important to take stock of the serious external challenges confronting the Middle East’s only democracy.

Although existential threats have been the reality of life since its founding, recent developments put the state on heightened alert. Iran, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, is a puppetmaster in the threatening actions. It also has nuclear ambitions.

For years, Israelis have endured rockets from Hezbollah, a terrorist group in neighboring Lebanon, and its counterpart Hamas in Gaza. Both groups boast of obtaining rockets capable of hitting every Israeli city. The concern here is that a confrontation between the United States and Iran over a possible U.S withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal could lead Iran to retaliate by deploying Hezbollah against Israel.

Meanwhile in Gaza, in addition to rockets and terror tunnels, are the so-called peaceful protests over Palestinian refugees’ “Right of Return,” which have been anything but peaceful. The vast majority of more than 30 Palestinians killed in clashes with the Israeli Defense Force over the past three weeks were Hamas members. Moreover, protesters have burned tires and thrown bombs, Molotov cocktails, and rocks at Israeli soldiers, and made attempts to breach the border fence. Demonstrations have brought Palestinian issues back to center stage in the month before the U.S. embassy is to move to Jerusalem.

Just as close to home, the seven-year-old civil war in Syria is a mounting concern. Making a power play in the war-torn country, Iran has launched a series of small-scale attacks on Israel from Syria that have provoked retaliation. In the past month, Israel announced that a drone that took off from Syria, and was destroyed by the IDF in February, was armed and on a mission to attack Israeli territories. The IDF responded with a broad wave of strikes against a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria.

Danger is heightened as other combatants are backing sides in the civil war, including the U.S., Russia and Turkey. As this issue went to press, Russia’s foreign minister acknowledged it was considering supplying Syria with advanced S- 300 missile systems and warned Israel it would suffer catastrophic consequences if it attacked the system.

So as we celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary, we must also be aware that the need to support the state is as necessary now as it was 70 years ago. Israel’s security is our responsibility too. 

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