Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Peace Rally

Yesterday evening we had a rally to support Israel. There was some news media there, and you can see a bit of my speech, if you click above.

Here is the text of my speech:

Thank you all for coming this afternoon.  I am delighted that so many of you were able to join us today. 
My name is Robert Efroymson, and I am the President of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. Welcome.

 The Federation partners with Jewish organizations to meet the needs of Jews in New Mexico , Israel and throughout the world
through leadership, philanthropy, education, and social action. 
Since its inception, Israel has faced a series of profound challenges. 
Today, it is grappling with an adversary who bases its political strategies on the principle of terrorizing civilian populations.

Israel loves peace.  Israel wants peace.  Israel wants peace!  

Does it sound strange to say this while Israeli planes are bombing targets in Gaza?  Perhaps so, but it must be said.  This was not a war that Israel wanted.  Israelis would love to have a peaceful neighbor in Gaza.  The withdrawal from Gaza was intended to create a space for such a neighbor.

Two years ago, Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip without conditions and without a peace treaty. 
The land was left to its Palestinian inhabitants, for their benefit.  It was hoped that this action could help improve relations. 
Instead of the situation getting better, Gaza became a refuge for terrorists. 
Hamas became a democratically elected government, and developed close ties with Iran .
Rockets began to fall upon the Land of Israel with ever-increasing intensity.  
The civilian population in the Western Negev, Sderot, and the area surrounding Gaza has experienced daily attacks for eight years. I don’t think that we can quite imagine what this situation might be like.  Well, if we were to suspend reality for a moment, (G-d forbid) imagine Las Cruces and El Paso being hit by rockets originating from Juarez .
 How many rockets would it take for the US Government to retaliate?  One, two, perhaps three? 
Now imagine, thousands upon thousands of rockets hitting Las Cruces and El Paso .
How long would it take for the US Government under any administration to retaliate? 
One week, one month, one year?  What about two years?  Not likely.
This past summer, Barack Obama visited Sderot as a presidential candidate.  During his trip, he said: "I don't think any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens.
The first job of any nation state is to protect its citizens. And so I can assure you that if -- I don't even care if I was a politician -- if somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at
night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."
Six months ago, Egypt brokered a cease fire between Israel and Gaza ’s Hamas leadership.
 During this ceasefire, 6,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel .
Hundreds have fallen in recent days, and we learned that 40 fell yesterday morning alone. 
Between 500 and 700,000 Israelis are in the direct range of these rocket attacks. 
That’s the same number of people who live in the Albuquerque metropolitan area.

Yesterday, Israeli Ambassador to the US , Sallai Merigdor said that: “ Israel had no other choice then to take action to defend itself.”     
Today, we gather to stand in solidarity with the State of Israel and with its people. 
Today, we renounce the weeks of sustained, daily attacks. 
Today, we show our support during this uncertain, but very critical, time. 
Today, we say that Israel , like any other nation on earth, has a right to protect its citizens from a constant barrage of rocket fire
and mortar shell attacks.
But, today, also we pray for peace, for Israel and for its neighbors.
May the day come when nation shall no longer lift up sword against nation, and neither shall we learn war any more.
Thank you very much for joining with us.


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