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Day 77 — Loving Israel doesn't mean I have to hate Arabs

Before I get to the article below, I wanted to share something about this morning’s events with you briefly. I’ll send an email tomorrow with more information and video. I was taken to the border of Gaza by two soldiers, who took me on a tour of how the IDF is waging war against Hamas. I was able to interview several soldiers and film some video. To this day, I have not heard one soldier talk about the joy of killing even terrorists. They want to finish the job and go home. But they are determined. In fact, I have rarely seen such unity. And the unity is between civilians and the army working together. They are so grateful for your support. We were able to raise all the funds to buy the winter clothes and plan to deliver them next week. Here are a few photos from this morning. (If you were wondering why I am wearing a helmet and the soldier is not, it is because they gave it to me to wear for my safety.)

This morning, I was prayer-walking on the unfinished sidewalk in front of our apartment building. It's unfinished because it was being built by Palestinians with work permits. They would come in daily and work on the bike path and the sidewalk. What they're doing here in Ashkelon is quite nice.


When Hamas sent 3,000 terrorists into Israel on October 7th to commit unspeakable atrocities, sadly, all of these Palestinians who simply wanted to work, earn an honest wage, and go home—lost their jobs.


But this morning, when I went out there, I noticed that there were Arabs working. Clearly, they were not Palestinian because no one was going in or coming out of Gaza. They were Israeli Arabs. Inside Israel, there are 2 million Israeli Arab citizens.


I could've just walked by. But I wanted to make a gesture of love or simply acknowledgment. In the midst of this war, I am sure they may think that I, as a Jew, hate them (they may hate me!). Tensions are obviously very high.


So, as I passed one of them, I said to him, "Ahalan," which in Arabic means "Hello." It's one of the many words we adopted into Hebrew colloquialism (slang). He looked up at me, expressionless, like he was shocked… Maybe a little bit scared. But then he saw that I was smiling, and I asked him, "Ma shalomcha" (how are you in Hebrew), and with a big grin, he said, "Bedseder" (literally, that means "in order"… But in slang, it simply means, "I'm good.")


I am a Zionist. This simply means that I believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient homeland and that the promises of God regarding the land of Israel and Abraham's kids are eternal. But that doesn't mean that I hate people from other ethnicities that live here. We could get into the history… And if you have followed my teachings, you know I have quite a bit to say about that… But we must remember that in the midst of our arguments and debates, every human being is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:16, 28).


The three guys outside of my house were not terrorists ... And we're probably more concerned about me hurting them than I was about them hurting me (not because I am a tough guy, but because I'm part of the Jewish majority). If I were walking alone in Arab East Jerusalem, I would be the one who would be scared (though I have walked through East Jerusalem alone many times and have never been attacked).


On my way back. I engaged another worker and told him what a great job they were doing. He smiled, appreciating the interaction.


No, I did not solve Middle East peace, or lack thereof. But I want to keep my conscience clear as I fight (at least with words) for the right of Israel to exist in her ancient homeland. There's no place for hate in the life of a believer, even as we hold on to God's promises regarding this land.


Amazing Gesture from Mother of Slain Hostage

For many Israelis, the most devastating day of this war, other than October 7, was last Friday, when three Israeli hostages were mistakenly shot by soldiers. Hamas uses much deception in fighting this war. They have been known to try to lure soldiers into traps by playing recordings of people in Hebrew over loudspeakers. I can’t imagine the stress of being on the ground in Gaza.

However, Iris, the mother of Yotam Haim, recorded a message for the soldiers who killed her son.

“This is Iris Haim. I am Yotam’s mother. I wanted to tell you that I love you very much, and I hug you here from afar.

“I know that everything that happened is absolutely not your fault, and nobody’s fault except that of Hamas, may their name be wiped out and their memory erased from the earth.

“I want you to look after yourselves and to think all the time that you are doing the best thing in the world, the best thing that could happen, that could help us. Because all the people of Israel and all of us need you healthy.

“And don’t hesitate for a second if you see a terrorist. Don’t think that you killed a hostage deliberately. You have to look after yourselves because only that way can you look after us.

“At the first opportunity, you are invited to come to us, whoever wants to. And we want to see you with our own eyes and hug you and tell you that what you did — however hard it is to say this, and sad — it was apparently the right thing at that moment.

“And nobody’s going to judge you or be angry. Not me, and not my husband Raviv. Not my daughter Noya. And not Yotam, may his memory be blessed. And not Tuval, Yotam’s brother. We love you very much. And that is all.”

The next day, a soldier from the battalion that mistakenly killed her son came to visit her and mourn with her.

Negotiations collapse

Hamas leaders were demanding not only a complete cease-fire but for Israel to retreat from completely the Gaza Strip to start up negotiations again. Israel rejected such a ridiculous offer that would allow Hamas to jump right back into power. Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated what he has been saying for weeks: “We are fighting until victory. We will not stop the war until we achieve all its goals — completing the destruction of Hamas and releasing all of our hostages.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas has rejected an Israeli proposal for a weeklong truce in Gaza in exchange for the release of 40 hostages that would include all women and children.

Terror Tunnel Destroyed

Hidden under Palestine Square in Gaza City was a massive network of terror tunnels built with UN and Qatar funds. “According to the military, Hamas’s most senior officials hid underground in the tunnel network when the terror group launched its October 7 onslaught on southern Israel.” 

(Photo: IDF)

The IDF destroyed it yesterday. TOI reports, “The underground network connected to the homes, offices, and hideout apartments of senior Hamas officials, including Muhammad Deif, the elusive leader of the terror group’s military wing, and Yahya Sinwar, the top Hamas official in Gaza.”

Shabbat Shalom

As today is the 77th day since the attack, it marks the end of week 11. Please continue to pray for the safety of our soldiers, for the evacuation of innocent Palestinians, and for the destruction of the Hamas terror network. May you have a peaceful and blessed Shabbat.

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