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Live from Sderot

The Homefront Command has outlawed public gatherings in the towns bordering Gaza, which in effect means that people here have been told not to go to shul. Jews, however, take issue with governments telling them that they can’t pray. So … Read More

By / January 7, 2009

The Homefront Command has outlawed public gatherings in the towns bordering Gaza, which in effect means that people here have been told not to go to shul. Jews, however, take issue with governments telling them that they can’t pray. So they pray anyway.

I have always found davening to be more meaningful when things blow up in the background. The thrust of the words hit me again, after having been a rut for months. While it is still dark outside, I find my way to the central Ashkenazi shul in Sderot for morning prayers. Occasional bursts of heavy machine-gun fire are intermingled with explosions as the small minyan silently sways back and forth. Sometimes the ground shakes so violently that I wonder if the Tzeva Adom early warning system is functional this frigid morning.

At around 1 p.m. I find myself taking cover in a shelter together with a terrified woman that asks me and a Swedish colleague to describe her reality to the Swedish people. Like a lot of Israelis, she is convinced that "European media" is biased toward the Palestinians. Well, that is just not true, at least not in Sweden. The Palestinians seem to have decidedly over-milked the cow of their own suffering. Whatever huffing and puffing going on does not translate into action, and calm voices of reason are being heard, both among politicians and among influential journalists. For example: when Nizar Rayan was assassinated on January 1, 2009, along with his four wives and nine of his children, he got a phone call from the IAF in good time. Innocent lives could have been spared in that case, as in so many other cases, but this silly little man decided to stay put, instead cracking jokes with his kids about how he was too fat for the morgue freezer. That might boost morale among suicidal terrorists, but normal people around the world with a healthy sense of right and wrong are slowly realizing that the callousness of Nizar Rayan reveals the true and sick core of the death cult calling itself "Palestinian resistance."

From where I am sitting right now, I can see two Apache helicopters hovering in the air. Every once in a while there is a loud flushing sound when they fire missiles at targets in Gaza. The subsequent explosions are so powerful that the windows in the coffee shop shake: it sounds like kassam rockets striking two blocks away. The IAF has bombed and shelled thousands of targets in one of the most densely populated areas on the face of the planet non-stop for 12 days now, but even if we believe in the most generous figures from Gaza, only about 150 civilians have been killed (out of the 660 total). If the secret Israeli objective were to kill as many innocent Palestinians as possible, the IDF is obviously not doing a very good job. At last we might actually have found something that the Jews are not good at: genocide.

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