Children stare in horror at what was the home of the Al Abadlla in Khan Younis until it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on July 8th 2014. Photo by Mohammed Saber / EPA.
Re: Send your Support to Israeli Soldiers
From Leslie Brent
July 15, 2014
Dear Rabbi Ofen,
I don’t know how you obtained my e-mail address, but I was shocked and deeply upset to receive your appeal for support, both financial and moral, for the Israeli soldiers who are currently engaged in what I regard as war crimes against the civilian Palestinian population. This military action by your government, like so many others that went before it, is totally out of proportion to whatever crimes a few Palestinians, whose identity still remains to be established, have committed. The abduction and killing of the three Israeli teenagers was of course an abhorrent crime, as was the subsequent ghastly murder – the burning of the poor boy alive — of an innocent Palestinian teenager by a gang of ultra-orthodox Israelis. To ask for support for the Israeli soldiers who are engaged in the brutal and indiscriminate destruction of Palestinian homes and the death of at least 160, with well over a thousand wounded, is an outrage – in biblical terms an abomination. If you really think that this kind of action, which we see again and again, will resolve the problems Israel is facing you must be utterly deluded.
I am writing as someone who escaped the Holocaust by the skin of his teeth and whose family was murdered by the Germans. It is high time that the Israeli government no longer hides in the shadow of the Holocaust, which it seems to use as a justification for its brutal approach to the subjugation of the Palestinians. I believe, with many others, including a minority of Israelis, that only a fair and equitable solution, with a return to the 1967 borders and the formation of a Palestinian state, can assure peace in the Middle East and the ultimate survival of Israel.
Leslie Baruch Brent (Emeritus Professor)
Above: The father of three-year-old Palestinian child, Mouid al-Araj, carries his son’s body during his funeral in Khan Younis, 13 July 2014. Below: Grab the children and run; an F16 has just bombed a nearby house, Gaza city, July 9th. Photo by Reuters.
Letter from Rabbi Menachem Ofen
To: Leslie Brent
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2014
Subject: Send your Support to Israeli Soldiers
Israel is once again under attack, and at war with Hamas. As hundreds of rockets fall on Israel, tens of thousands of Israel Defense Force soldiers are fighting to stop the attacks and defend Israel from terror. Now you can help them and send the soldiers you help your own personal message of support.
Join our campaign and help provide CARE packages, barbeques [sic], and tefillin to combat soldiers right now in the field. Visit our campaign website for more details on how to help.
Thank you for your support,
Rabbi Menachem Ofen
Chairman, Or LaChayal
See our campaign at: http://igg.me/at/help-israeli-soldiers
Below: Israeli soldiers drive a tank to a position near the Israel-Gaza border, on Thursday, July 10, 2014. Do they need help? Photo by Ariel Schalit / AP
Rabbi Ofen with Commanders Peled and Yidei at a ceremony of the exclusive Golani Brigade, September 9th, 2008. Photo from Shturem
Or LaChayal, Light to the soldiers, was started by Menachen Ofen in 2005. It as an agency of Chabad, the Orthodox Hasidic movement, headquartered in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, USA. During Operation Cast Lead, Chabad Lubavitch News reported: Rabbi Mendy Ofen of Ohr Lachayal, a Chabad agency which provides religious services and products to soldiers, has been outfitting soldiers with a specially crafted prayer book, Tehillim, Torah and mini charity box combination that soldiers can tuck into their gear for extra protection.
“We bring them food and emotional support, offer them an opportunity to put on tefillin, and show them with our actions that we are with them every step of the way,” said Rabbi Ofen.