Remarks by Rabbi Marvin Hier

Remarks by Rabbi Marvin Hier
delivered at the
Los Angeles Solidarity Rally in Support of Israel attended by 3,000 people

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Once again, my friends, Israel is under siege. Even the White House Correspondent, Helen Thomas thought it’s an opportune time to show off her bigotry telling the Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go back to Poland and Germany.” Helen, I got two things to say to you – first, the Jews are not in Palestine, they’re in the state of Israel where they belong and where their ancestors lived for two thousand years before Mohammed. Second, you’re the one who should go home – there should be no place for bigots in the White House press room.

The whole world is talking about a few ships that were en route to Gaza. From the media, you get the impression that the entire Arab-Israeli conflict is about a flotilla.

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No wonder, the great commentator Rashi begins his comments on the Torah by asking the question, why do we begin with the Book of Genesis? Why not skip directly to the exciting chapters in Exodus, like the chapter on the flotilla when Pharaoh’s chariots charged the Israelites in the middle of the sea? Wouldn’t that be more interesting to the student and certainly more exciting to the New York Times or the BBC? No, cautions Rashi, you can’t study history without a proper context, without Genesis because, if you start in Exodus, you won’t know the circumstances, you won’t know there was a Joseph who once saved Egypt and, despite that, the Pharaoh’s pretended he never existed.

You won’t know that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, that he offered the Palestinians a golden opportunity to build their new society to make the Gaza Port a major tourist attraction for visitors from around the world, bringing prosperity to their citizens. But instead, you know what they did? They squandered the opportunity, elected Hamas, launched suicide attacks on civilians, in restaurants, and on buses, started firing 8,000 rockets into Sderot and southern Israel, forcing Israel to return and to place an embargo on Gaza.

To the Prime Minister of Turkey we say, with all due respect, a flotilla that props up Khalid Meshaal and Ahmadinejad can never be a peace flotilla. If you really want to promote peace in the Middle East and you love the idea of ships, then you should have loaded up your flotilla with Arab notables and peace activists, stop off in Israel, pick up a family member of Gilad Shalit, and tell the world your flotilla is going to Gaza to demand Shalit’s freedom. That, Mr. Prime Minister, would be a gesture for peace in the Middle East!

And while you’re focusing on Gaza, Mr. Prime Minister, be aware that the Center has received reports that Jews in your country are afraid to walk in the streets, are not attending Bar Mitzvahs and weddings for fear of attacks. That is not the way to bring peace to the Middle East.

Can you believe it, my friends, the United Nations, with US support, wants to send UN observers to check Israel’s nuclear capabilities. When are you going to send observers to Gaza to count their tunnels, to document how many rockets the Iranians and Syrians have supplied Hamas with? And while you’re at it, when are you going to do something about the double standard at the UN, where every month there is a resolution condemning Israel, but not once, in your history, have you ever passed a resolution condemning the terrorist organizations of Hamas and Hezbollah? Let us never forget why. Because the 57 Muslim states have a virtual lock on the General Assembly and won’t allow you to do it.

My friends, we pray every day that peace will come to the Middle East, but it will not come through a flotilla – it will come when the Arab world finally decides to bury the hatchet and say, just as Israel is prepared to recognize all Arab states as they wish to be recognized, be it a secular state or a Muslim state, so must we stand up and recognize one small democratic State called Israel, as the homeland of the Jewish people. When they are ready to do that, then, and only then, will peace come to the Middle East.