BOTEACH: Mr. President, my kids are running to bomb shelters in Jerusalem

Israelis take cover in a shelter as a siren warning of incoming rockets is heard around the southern city of  Beersheba, Israel, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Israeli airstrikes overnight targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque its military says concealed the militant group's weapons, in an offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. Israel launched its campaign five days ago to stop relentless rocket fire on its citizens. While there have been no fatalities in Israel, Palestinian officials said overnight attacks raised the death toll there to over 120, with more than 920 wounded. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Israelis take cover in a shelter as a siren warning of incoming rockets is heard around the southern city of Beersheba, Israel, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Israeli airstrikes overnight targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque its military says concealed the militant group’s weapons, in an offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. Israel launched its campaign five days ago to stop relentless rocket fire on its citizens. While there have been no fatalities in Israel, Palestinian officials said overnight attacks raised the death toll there to over 120, with more than 920 wounded. (AP Photo/Tsafrir
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This week gave me two contrasting images of suffering. In Brazil I watched the faces of soccer fans as they cried, mourning the loss of their national team in the World Cup after being destroyed by Germany 7-1. An hour later I received a video from my own children showing them running to a bomb shelter in Jerusalem after the rocket siren went off. They were on their way to dinner with my nephew and his pregnant wife, who are visiting from Los Angeles. A quiet, warm evening was replaced by shrieking and terror as they ran through the streets, finally finding a shelter near the old city of Jerusalem. They only left the shelter after they heard the explosions in the sky of the Iron Dome anti-missile system neutralizing the rocket in midair.

 My four children who are currently in Israel tell me not to worry. That running to shelters is common. Our daughter, who served in the army, says she remembers countless occasions like this. What is more tragic? A tiny democracy that had more than one million people in bomb shelters on Tuesday night? Or the fact that the citizenry are so accustomed to running to bomb shelters that they consider it normal?

The response of the United States has been appalling. President Obama is calling on all parties to show restraint. Let me repeat that. The President of the United States is calling on the elected officials of democratic Israel and the bloodthirsty terrorists of Hamas to show restraint. To whom is he directing his appeal? Hamas’s charter calls for the annihilation of Jews wherever they may be found. Does the President think that Hamas gives one damn for his calls for restraint? And where is the outright, unconditional condemnation of Hamas for firing rockets at children?

Mr. President, my four children, American citizens all, are running to bomb shelters in the Israeli capital while you’re asking terrorists to show restraint. For goodness sake, Mr. President: Do the moral thing. Say outright that the United States stands with Israel fully, completely, and unreservedly. That it supports the right of Israel to enact all military measures to defend its citizens. That it utterly condemns Hamas for its terrorism and will never recognize Hamas in any shape or form, other than to recognize it as a terror entity that must be destroyed. That it will supply Israel with everything it needs to eradicate the Hamas terror network in Gaza. That the United States, in having experienced the horrors of 9/11, understands the threat Israel is facing and stands with democratic countries everywhere, especially its most reliable ally, in defeating terrorists wherever they may be found.

Mr. President, this is a moral issue, and you are a moral man. Do the right thing. This is not a time to be neutral. America is not Switzerland. Get off the fence.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of 30 books and Founder of This World: The Values Network. 

 

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