About Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from Israel,” Ari
Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to
join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two
sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from
home. Israel and the United States are inter-related - the two
countries we hold dearest to our hearts - and so is this "point
- counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part
of our lives.
About Norma Zager
In the series "Postcards from Israel –
Postcards from Home,” Norma Zager and Ari Bussel invite readers
throughout the world to join them as they present reports about
Israel, homeland of the Jewish People, as seen by two sets of
eyes. This "point - counter-point” presentation has, since 2008,
become part of our lives. It can be found in numerous websites
around the world as well as in print in the USA.
Bunch These Jewish People
They Burned Books
Indicators of Our Time
Candles of Darkness
December 1, 2009
Palestine, Stand Proud Israel
for Israel, But Why?
Blaming the Messenger
for Our Country, Fighting for our Lives
Norma Zager & Ari Bussel
Strange Bunch These Jewish People
March 2, 2010
"Since God chose you to be the holy
people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness,
humility, gentleness, and patience…” -- The Bible
The other evening we were privileged to hear an IDF colonel speak about Israel’s
battle against terrorism.
Much has been written and spoken lately about an egregious anti-Semitic document
called the Goldstone Report alleging Israel of misdeeds. We were anxious to
learn the truth from someone who is in the fray daily and literally on the front
lines of battle.
Viewing real footage from the air and on the ground pointed up the formidable
challenges of winning any war against terrorism. The colonel admitted it is
impossible to defeat all our enemies. Israel has adopted a position of
attempting to manage the problem and prevent collateral damage to innocents.
Watching the extent to which the extremists will go to commit murder against
civilians made us sad, not only for Israelis, but for the two million people of
Gaza, who are being used like pawns in a vicious, evil game.
One shot from the air showed a Hamas terrorist running from IDF soldiers. They
are aware that Israel will never shoot when there are civilians involved
(collateral damage), so they grab innocent children off the streets and use them
as a shield. The first child the terrorist lifted began screaming to be put
down, so the terrorist concerned about his own escape grabbed another child and
ran away with him.
How sad for any mother to know that her child could be standing on a street
playing or talking to friends and be used by a crazy, murderous killer as a
human shield. Only there, in the Middle East, this act can make some mothers
proud (out of will or necessity). We abhor and deplore such behavior; they extol
It must be some comfort to know that Israel would never shoot in such a
circumstance, but what of the terrorist who is strapped with explosives? What if
they went off accidentally and killed a child?
Israel’s policy of collateral damage is so strict that if a terrorist moves
toward a house or building near civilians, the missile tracking him is sent off
course to explode in a field or open land nearby. At a cost of $150,000 for each
missile, this is a very expensive cautionary tactic. The real cost, however, is
a new manner in which the terrorists fight, more devious, dangerous and
deceitful than ever.
Why does Israel do this? After all, isn’t this war? Doesn’t she have to destroy
this enemy to survive? The reason a Jew cannot kill a child or an innocent
person is simply the deep-seated belief in chessed or kindness. According to
Kabbalah it is an important step on the path to God.
Chessed is an act that has no cause and is pro-active. Kindness must be
initiated for no other reason than it is part of the Jewish soul to do so.
In Israel, chessed has been translated into collateral damage. The IDF is
trained to avoid harm to any innocent, even if it means allowing a terrorist to
escape, until the next time.
How can this be the case when the enemy suggests otherwise?
Why do Jewish people, especially a country like Israel, surrounded by neighbors
that seek to destroy her every moment of every day, choose kindness over those
wishing their destruction?
Is there any other army on the planet, or ever was, that dropped leaflets 48
hours before bombing an area to warn people to leave?
That made phone calls and sent text messages 24 hours in advance of an attack to
further warn innocents to leave the area? And five minutes before destroying the
target made sure by other means that the place is vacant of any inhabitants?
Unheard of? Yes. That is why the world doubts this, although they have seen it
with their own eyes. Collateral damage the Israeli way is so foreign to the
world, no one can believe it even exists despite what they witness. It has often
been shown the world holds Israel to a completely different standard than the
one to which the world holds itself. Dozens of people are killed in Afghanistan.
You may see it as a two-liner blurb somewhere.
Right now in Afghanistan the U.S. is killing women and children far in excess of
anything Israel ever has. But it is not only the United States. In every tension
area around the world, in every military combat scenario and in every new
post-military dilemma (in which terrorists are the enemy, not a uniformed
military), collateral damage exists and is a consequence, not something to be
considered as the overriding consideration before taking action.
Collateral damage is not a term so deeply embraced by other nations, peaceful or
What is the matter with these crazy Jews?
Why aren’t they angry beyond caring? Why be concerned if a little innocent blood
is spilled? After all, their enemies have no trouble walking into a pizza parlor
and murdering small children? Why doesn’t Israel? This can’t be true!
Jewish people are an odd bunch. We actually try to practice what we preach. How
can the Jewish State be Jewish if she ignores the tenets of her own religion?
Colonel Benzion Gruber explained, "You never want to kill a child or an innocent
man or woman for any reason, or they will be with you forever. It is something
that never leaves you.”
How can a man feel this way whose mother still suffers the memories of the Nazi
Camps and a twin sister tortured by Josef Mengele and raped night after night in
front of her very eyes? Yet, Col. Gruber is unwavering, and so are therefore his
20,000 soldiers in Gaza. "Chessed” is all he answers when asked. Much like in
the battlefield, so in civilian life, Col. Gruber supports a charity for sick
children in the face of constant misery and suffering.
Chessed or kindness is a vital part of the Jewish soul and its ability to stay
connected to God. It is why Jewish people "take care of their own” and also seek
to heal the world (Tikkun Olam). Kindness keeps the soul strong and whole, and
able to survive another day. Yet, like the good student on the playground who
suffers the wrath and insults from playmates who bark, "teacher’s pet,” Israel
is taunted for adhering to her higher standards.
Muslim countries surround Israel with an ever-increasing thirst for blood. Her
continued existence is driving them crazy, like a bleeding animal surrounded by
vicious sharks. A prey encircled, its fate certain.
It is exactly in the face of such neighbors and guaranteed eventuality that
Israelis search deep within for something others may not quite understand. Many
Jews even question this logic. Yet, it is exactly this "something” which is so
pure and powerful that enables Israel’s continued existence through the ages,
while empires rise and fall.
An inner deep conviction, faith that God will not forsake them, surrounds
Israelis like a protective aura. The inner and outer forces thus combine,
becoming an indestructible matter, the manifestation of being Jewish in the
Jews are trained that obedience and love is demanded of them, at any cost. The
Bible states "let us do and (then) listen.” It is why Jews still cry and feel
excruciating pain when they see pictures of the Nazi Camps or hear a survivor’s
stories. It is why Israel excels at cures for all the sick or science to improve
the lives of everyone on the planet.
The Jewish people do not create a Salk vaccine and say only a Jew may have it
and not our enemies.
A Jew does not create a way to keep sick children alive and say only Jewish
children may benefit. Arab children are treated equal to Jewish children in
every Israeli hospital.
This is chessed, the Jewish way.
It is the root of Christian charity: the teachings of a Jewish man long ago,
well schooled in Torah and Kabbalah. He taught about kindness, instructed to
love your neighbor and turn the other cheek.
Watching the footage of the bombs exploding out of harm’s way to prevent
"collateral damage,” one is heartbroken. Saddened because no matter what the
Jewish people do, how much proof exists they are only fighting for their
survival, how much they act like civilized human beings in the face of inhuman
evil acts, their enemies will never stop the lies and determined efforts to
On the contrary, lies thrive and multiply, and people tend to believe. Many of
us, in fact, listen and begin doubting ourselves.
Evil relies on that kindness and uses it as a weapon against Israel. It feeds on
goodness, for goodness knows no bounds, it expands and fills any void.
Each time a self-hating Jew like Goldstone, an anti-Semite like Mel Gibson or an
Ahmadinejad spews vile hatred, a Jew must stop, look inward and find chessed
within his raging soul. It is a cross every Jew must bear on their path to God.
It is for this reason that Chabad, at most difficult times after people are
murdered senselessly just for being Jewish, urges everyone to immediately
perform one small act of kindness.
Strange bunch these Jewish people. Every discussion with Zionists ends with the
same question, "But if this is the way it is, what can we do? What are our
options?” Sadly, no one has any answers because the reality is too painful to
Unfortunately, when the world is forced to be proactive, the choice will be made
for us. That is the way of goodness and evil’s secret weapon. The seeds of
destruction spread as a cancer throughout the body of humanity, and no cure is
enacted until it has metastasized throughout, with miniscule odds of survival.
Perhaps Israel’s battle to disseminate the truth should actually be, as my aunt
used to tell me when I was a child, "Don’t explain. Your friends don’t need it
and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.