During a telephone conversation last week about life in Israel right now, former Silver Spring Rabbi Dov Lipman said that the best that can happen now is for people to stand with the Israeli government and military, hope the Iron Dome continues its high success rate and “God willing, we will reach a point where we can go on living.”
In the past few weeks, Israelis formed an “unbelievable unity” as the IDF searched for the three missing teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, said Lipman, who moved to Israel 10 years ago, working his way from teacher to community activist in Beit Shemesh to Knesset member.
Then the boys’ bodies were found, shot to death, and the country mourned.
The death of the three boys “was something that went to the core of every single parent, grandparent, and the children themselves,” Lipman said.
Then, slowly, as Israel started to heal, the world learned that a Palestinian boy had been murdered in Israel, the result of an apparent revenge attack.
“It was painful. It caused us to reflect,” he said. But in the midst of trying to heal, Hamas rockets began hitting Israel from Gaza, reaching farther into the Jewish state than they ever had before.
“Emotionally, to know that missiles can hit in Israel, at any time, unless you experience that, you can’t imagine. It’s not a way to live,” Lipman said.
Once the missiles started landing, Israel fought back to prevent further attacks and send “a very strong message that this will not be tolerated.” Lipman, a member of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said he is impressed with how the government and military have reacted.
As a government insider, Lipman said he understands how every decision, every military move, is carefully mulled over and based on an estimation of the costs to both Israelis and Palestinians.
“It pains us that any civilians are killed, but we have a responsibility to our citizens,” he said.
Lipman saw the action firsthand when he traveled to the Gaza border July 13 and spent time with members of the IDF, bringing them many pizzas that were paid for by the Silver Spring community. He also visited a sheltered playground in Sderot and was forced to rush to a bomb shelter when sirens went off.
While there, a boy roughly 10 years old explained to Lipman that he was born during a missile attack so that was why he wasn’t afraid, Lipman recalled.
That resilience, combined with a willingness to stand by the government, is what will pull Israel through its latest crisis, he said. He called on Americans to spread the word that “Israel is a moral country” and is properly defending itself.
Rallies in support of Israel, such as the one held July 17 in Washington, make Israelis feel they are not alone, he said. “I can tell you it’s something that makes a big difference, to know America is there,” he said. He also praised Congress, which has spoken out for Israel’s right to defend itself.
He hoped Americans would speak with their Congress members, urging them to not force Israel into accepting “any agreement it is not comfortable with.”
If Hamas understands that the United States supports Israel, “I think it can have a very powerful impact,” he said. “We just want this to end, but in a way that won’t allow this to happen again,” Lipman said.