“Americans need to ensure their elected officials know that we have no patience for dithering in Washington,” said Pastor John Hagee, head of Christians United for Israel.
By Melissa Langsam Braunstein
As Israel continues to grapple with the murderous Hamas spree in southern Israel over the weekend, and as the Israel Defense Forces have launched “Operation Swords of Iron” on the Hamas terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, experts say there are many ways that Israel’s friends can help, even from thousands of miles away.
“There’s something for everyone to do” during a war-time situation, Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Israeli special envoy to combat antisemitism, told JNS. “This is a multi-dimensional existential war. It is a war, which we’re going to win because of who we are and what we can do when we’re united, because of our identity, our heritage, our history and because we have no other choice.”
To date, more than 1,200 Israelis have been killed as a result of Hamas breaching Israel’s border on Oct. 7, with thousands wounded and more than 150 men, women and children taken captive.
Global public opinion is key during a war, according to Cotler-Wunsh. “In the war for public opinion, everybody has a role to play, whether they’re Jews, Zionists or support Israel’s very right to exist,” she said.
Enia Krivine, senior director of Israel programs at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, recommends that Israel’s allies demonstrate sustained support for the Jewish state. That includes explaining that Israel cannot live “cheek by jowl” with a neighbor that commits atrocities on its civilians, and that the Jewish state needs the necessary time and space to respond to the threat.
Krivine recommends making it “clear that Americans stand behind Israel to get its people back, the women and children in captivity in Gaza right now.”
Those for whom praying is meaningful can insert extra supplications beyond the standard prayer for the State of Israel that many congregations recite weekly.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, advises reciting Psalms, as well as the prayer Acheinu, for the wellbeing and rescue of those in difficult circumstances.
Many communities are holding prayer vigils. In the Washington, D.C. area, a consortium of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations are hosting two solidarity vigils—one in Maryland and one in Northern Virginia—on Thursday.
The United Synagogue, a UK charity, is hosting a “musical women’s Hallel” on Oct. 15 at Golders Green United Synagogue. “Together, we will raise our voices in prayer,” per an announcement. “We will say additional prayers dedicated to the current situation in Israel and the families affected by it.”
“Make no mistake. The Jewish people are traumatized, but we will survive. This is a time for solidarity and engagement,” said Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs.
Synagogues, Jewish Federations and other organizations across the country have been or are holding rallies in the coming days, and StandWithUs is maintaining a calendar of some of those rallies. On its website, it provides downloadable signs. It recommends a printing size of at least 22×28 inches “for maximum visibility.”
Contact elected officials
When contacting local members of Congress, Israel advocates should raise several issues, including more funding for the Iron Dome air-defense system and supporting Israel as it neutralizes the Hamas threat, according to Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth.
Constituents should also tell their representatives how important it is to punish Iran “severely” and prevent sanctions relief, as well as force “Qatar to choose between remaining a major non-NATO ally of the United States and hosting the Hamas leadership,” Stern told JNS.
The Biden administration could also defund the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “until we see some real change in their curriculum,” said Krivine, adding that UNRWA has poisoned minds for generations.
In June, the Biden administration allocated more than $220 million to UNRWA. The Trump administration had halted U.S. funding to UNRWA.
“Americans need to ensure their elected officials know that we have no patience for dithering in Washington,” said Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel.
“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures,” he told JNS, “and Washington needs to recognize this reality and act accordingly.”
A full list can be found here.
United Hatzalah is raising money “to replenish the stocks of medical equipment,” a spokesperson told JNS. “The needs are just enormous and unprecedented. We are also purchasing more bulletproof vests and helmets for our volunteers.”
Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces is raising funds for “plasma kits, blood coolers and hygiene kits,” according to its CEO, Steven Weil. “We are also currently funding multiple armored field ambulances.”
Weil said that all of the proceeds that the FIDF collects “will go to soldier needs.”