Rabbi claims Israelis united | ParkRecord.com

Rabbi claims Israelis united

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

It has been barely a week since Temple Har Shalom Rabbi Joshua Aaronson returned from Jerusalem, where he spent the first half of July studying sacred Jewish texts as the ongoing strife was starting.

Aaronson says that regular Israelis are rallying around their leaders as Israel tries to crush Hezbollah, the organization that the Jewish state is targeting in its operation in Lebanon.

"They were not united nearly as they are now," Aaronson says.

Israelis say, according to Aaronson, that Hezbollah should be destroyed and that the organization is a bigger threat than Hamas, another of Israel’s enemies, because the group is better armed and has more money.

"Israel has really been quietly suffering the slings and arrows of Hezbollah," says Aaronson, who was in Israel from July 1 until July 14.

Regular Israelis will continue to support the government unless the conflict becomes a quagmire, extending for a long time, Aaronson predicts, noting that Israelis would prefer that the Lebanese government disarm Hezbollah and control the southern part of Lebanon.

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He says Israelis would lose patience with the conflict if it goes on indefinitely, but he envisions that large-scale military operations will cease within 30 days.

The conflict has not sparked much public interest from the Park City area, but it seems that the community is monitoring the hostilities. Still, it is dominating much of the national and international debate and Parkites tend to see themselves as engaged in foreign affairs.

Frances ReMillard, a Kamas Valley resident and a leader in the group known as Utahns for a Just Peace in the Holy Land, which is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and wants Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, says that she is "outraged" with the Israeli operation in Lebanon.

"Israel’s reaction is way over the top," ReMillard says.

She claims that the U.S. media fails to explain the conflict in the context of what she says is Israel’s ongoing shelling of Palestinian lands and other occupation-related issues.

"The American understanding of this situation is, "Gosh, there was a relative calm,’" ReMillard says.

ReMillard links the current violence to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, calling it the "systemic problem."

In statements to The Park Record, Republican Congressman Rob Bishop, who is seeking re-election in November, and his Democratic challenger, Steve Olsen, outline their views on the conflict.

Bishop says that the United Nations has been "ineffective" in its handling of Middle East issues. He hopes the leading industrial powers devise a "united position and plan."

"If the Chinese and Russians aren’t willing to be part of the solution, there may not be the chance for a peaceful one," Bishop says.

He also says: "Terrorist acts and acts of war, such as a breach of a nation’s border and the killing and capturing of its soldiers or citizens, must be punished."

Bishop claims that countries have the right to protect themselves.

"Sometimes force is needed to stop this type of aggression. You certainly have to respect the right of a country to defend itself," Bishop says.

Olsen, meanwhile, claims that the Bush administration has long ignored the situation and instead targeted Iraq.

"The policy of the Bush administration from the beginning has been to disengage from the conflict between Israel, the Palestinians and Hezbollah, and focus on regime change in Iraq . . . Our focus on Iraq seems to be causing us to neglect the remainder of the region. The administration must learn how to walk and chew gum at the same time," Olsen says.

Congressional campaigns normally are not focused on international affairs but the November contest for the seat that Bishop holds will likely address the Middle East and the American occupation of Iraq.

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