May 19, 2024
Larry Bressler of Temple Emunah Brotherhood, Lexington, MA from the FJMC New England Region reflects on his thoughts after returning from an Israel Solidarity Trip.

We need your stories and reflections on Israel! Every week, we invite a member of the FJMC to share a “reflection” on some aspect of their thoughts, experience or feelings about Israel. It can be a memory, something current or even something forward thinking. Please keep it short, 300 words or less or even a few paragraphs and that you stay away from politics. And it is entirely acceptable to make it about you and Israel. Please send your submission, to FJMC Israel Programming Chairman Karl Rubin at and/or Lisa Pollack at

“My thoughts after just returning from an Israel Solidarity Trip: October 7, 2023 should never have happened. Since 2006, Hamas has received hundreds of millions of dollars of aid each year. They could have built hotels on their beautiful Mediterranean Coast. They could have built schools and hospitals. They could have built waste treatment plants and their own power plant. Instead, they built about 400 miles of terror tunnels, with these goals in mind: destroy Israel and kill Jews. They essentially stole money from their people to support their own terrorist agenda. They turned Gaza into an ISIS state. Nevermind that the Israelis supplied their electric power. Never mind that Israel allowed something like 17,000 Gazan workers to work in Israel in order to feed their families. Nevermind that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2006 and dragged out 10,000 settlers, and stayed out. Nevermind that they had complete autonomy in their land. But that wasn’t good enough for Hamas. They occasionally sent rockets over the border into Israeli towns and kibbutzim. The people in those areas had to run for bomb shelters whenever they had enough warning. This is how they lived. That is how their kids grew up. And all the Israelis wanted was peaceful coexistence, so they could build their lives. On October 7th on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, everything changed. Nearly 4000 Hamas terrorists invaded Israel. I heard that Hamas had spent 8 years in preparation for the assault.

I just returned from a Solidarity Mission to Israel consisting of about 20 Americans, mostly from the Boston area. Based on the news and on firsthand accounts by several survivors, what Hamas did was barbaric beyond words. They tortured and murdered Israelis in their homes. They murdered parents in front of their children, and then murdered the children. They raped women. They killed Israeli farm animals. They burned Israelis in their homes. More than 400 young people were killed at the Nova music festival. And they kidnapped 240 men, women and children as hostages. News accounts on social media showed that they did it gleefully, and celebrated afterwards. These barbaric acts are beyond words, beyond humanity. There was no humanity that day. While visiting the Gazan border area, we heard about acts of heroism by Israelis who were unarmed and some who were only lightly armed. Some died protecting others. Without them, it could have been much worse. We heard from a Nova festival survivor who lost 10 of his friends, but somehow managed to escape. We heard from a woman on a kibbutz who spent over 12 hours in a safe room waiting for the IDF to arrive. Some of her close neighbors did not make it. We heard from a woman on another kibbutz who lost her son. We heard their pain, and we shared their pain. Each encounter was extremely emotional. We tried to console each of them with a hug and expressed our support. We visited Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery, where fallen IDF soldiers from Jerusalem are buried. There are 3 new sections of the cemetery.

Please distribute freely to everyone you know to hold all the fallen IDF heroes. Everyone who spoke to us had connections to the fallen. They struggled to get the words out. A woman next to us was stretched over a grave, sobbing. Every death is on Hamas’s head. They have destroyed so much in a productive democratic society. Hamas has not given the world anything. The kibbutzim and towns near Gaza have been partially abandoned for now, with people living in hotels around the country. After 5 months, people are starting to return to Sderot, a large city near Gaza. This is their home, and Israelis have nowhere else to go. Israel is fighting for its very existence. It is not for revenge. It is to remove Hamas and bring home its hostages. At the very least, Israel must bring home the hostages as soon as possible. Some have most likely died in captivity already. More will likely die if they don’t come home soon. The Israeli government owes them their freedom. When pro-Hamas supporters around the world talk about the Gazan civilians who have died, they completely ignore what Hamas did on that day. They ignore the fact that 70,000 Israelis have left their homes in the north because of Hezbollah, and are living in hotels or other temporary housing. But the worst thing is that they ignore the barbaric terrorist acts committed by Hamas. Whatever Israel might do in response, however people feel about the Israeli government, there is no proportionality to what Hamas did to Israel on that day. Hamas was embedded into every aspect of Gazan society. They use their own people as human shields, who they don’t care about at all. For Hamas, more dead civilians is good PR. It’s demented. The Israelis are doing what needs to be done. When people talk about civilian casualties in Gaza, they must also remember the Israeli casualties brought by the ISIS-like Hamas. But a more important question that people should ask is WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY PRODUCES SUCH DEMENTED MURDERERS? Israel has been traumatized. And the world is with the bad guys. It is up to us to tell people what happened on Oct 7 th . Israel has no choice but to defend itself. And it is imperative that they continue negotiating to bring home the remaining hostages. We need to keep contacting our Congressmen and Senators. We need to explain to friends and others who have no idea. Hamas, ISIS, Taliban, etc do not share Western values. They want the world to be their way. It’s shocking that so many Americans line up with them. What happened on Oct 7, 2023 should never have happened.

– Larry Bressler, Temple Emunah Brotherhood of Lexington, MA; FJMC New England Region

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