By Joe Sterling, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – The code-red siren blaring in Israel on Tuesday hit close to home for Rabbi Adam Starr.
His wife and daughter were visiting the Jewish state Tuesday, where Israelis have been darting for cover from daily Hamas rocket fire.
Starr breathed easy after he got off the phone with his wife.
"She's in Jerusalem," said Starr, leader of the Young Israel of Toco Hills synagogue in Atlanta. "She called me to tell me she is OK."
But he and others in his congregation and across the country remain anxious over the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.
"We all have many friends and family in Israel," Starr said, referring to his congregants. "We're seeing on Facebook and Twitter our good friends and what they are going through, the complexities in trying to explain this to their young children."
Starr's angst underscores the close bonds between the American Jewish community and Israel, a relationship that predates the founding of the Jewish state in 1948.
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American Jews long have felt an affinity for Israel as a bulwark against anti-Semitism and a refuge for a people escaping persecution and surviving the Holocaust.
Since its 1948 founding, Israel has fought wars with its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians.
Conflict after conflict, U.S. Jewish groups and Jewish citizens have wielded grass-roots political clout to garner American support for Israel.
Latest on the Israel-Gaza conflict
The bonds are underscored by their size. The world's largest Jewish community is in Israel at nearly 6 million people, according to estimates. The U.S. Jewish community is the second most populous at an estimated 5 million plus.
After Israel kicked off its offensive last week to stop Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli communities, Starr and others in the U.S. Jewish community sent an SOS across the United States: Help Israelis. Send donations. Demonstrate for the Jewish state. Let our brothers and sisters in Israel know they're not alone.
Jewish groups staged rallies in cities across the United States, including Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. More than $5 million in pledges to help the battered southern Israel communities has poured in, according to the Jewish Federations of North America. Jewish leaders have traveled to Israel to show their support, it said.
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"You've seen a startling consensus," said Omri Ceren, a senior adviser with the Israel Project, a pro-Israel information group, "from the right to the left, from secular/cultural to religious groups."
Ceren said things were different when Israel launched its Cast Lead offensive in Gaza in December 2008 when, he said, not all American Jews were on board.
"There was naïveté in parts of the Jewish community to the effect that maybe President Bush's unpopularity and his refusal to appease" rejectionist Palestinian elements blocked peace.
Arab-Americans watch conflict with mix of worry, relief
After four years of continued hostility, Ceren said, there is more of a clear-eyed view of the perceived motives of Hamas, regarded by the United States and Israel as a terrorist group that is backed by Iran.
The 2008-09 operation failed to loosen Hamas' hold on power in Gaza. The militant rocket attacks from the territory ramped up year by year.
Hamas remained staunchly anti-Israel, and Israel's economic blockade to choke off the delivery of weapons from abroad has generated grass-roots support for the militant group.
"Now that naïveté has become impossible to justify," Ceren said. "The claim that Hamas can be peeled away from Iran doesn't pass the laugh test."
Israel has massed troops at the Gaza border and has threatened a ground offensive. Even though American Jews widely support Israel's right to defend itself from rocket fire coming from Gaza, there is disagreement about the best way to do that. Prior to the recently announced cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, there was much hand-wringing over the wisdom of Israeli ground troops re-entering Gaza.
Some hope a ground war will be avoided, but it's a hard call.
"It seems to be a no-win situation," said Max Rosenthal, active in the small Jewish community of Huntsville, Alabama.
Israel can't live with thousands of rockets coming in every single day, he said. And it faces the challenge of trying to thwart Hamas without killing "huge amounts of people."
"If we go in with a truce, it'll be OK for a few months, then they'll start over again, they'll get more rockets in."
But Rosenthal and other U.S. Jews stress that the destruction of Israel is Hamas' avowed goal. And the future he sees is one of constant conflict.
"There's a feeling this is not going to end well, one way or the other," he said.
"My own feeling is a feeling of despair. I don't see any way of resolving it other than going in and wiping out Gaza and that is certainly not what anyone wants to do."
The executive director of J Street, a Washington-based advocacy group which bills itself as "the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans," questions whether further military action by Israel "would end the rockets and make Israel more secure" after Cast Lead.
"Today, rockets are more numerous and powerful. Israel is more isolated in its region and more ostracized around the world," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street executive director.
"Only a political resolution to the century-old conflict with the Palestinians resulting in two states living side by side can end the conflict. Without that, in a few short years, we'll be right back here again: anger deeper, rockets more powerful, and political forces yet more extreme."
There's no question that Israel has a right to defend itself, just like any other sovereign nation, said Lindy Miller Crane, a member of Atlanta's Jewish community.
"If rockets were fired to the United States from Cuba, I would hope that the U.S. would react," she said.
Yet, like many Jews who consider themselves politically liberal, she is "ambivalent and conflicted" about how to achieve peace.
If and when a cease-fire comes together, she's worried about the follow-through.
She said that's because it seems as though no progress has been made to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue since the 2008 Israeli military operation in Gaza.
It's like the movie "Groundhog Day," Crane said.
She believes that if Israel can start addressing issues of racism and inequality, this will help the Jewish state initiate a strategy that will bring permanent peace with Palestinians.
"It's something that's going to have to happen," said Crane. "When I think about the future of Israel – peace with the Palestinians is one aspect of that."
Israel has negotiated with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which runs the government in the West Bank. A main stumbling block to an Israeli-Palestinian peace has been the existence and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
There is vehement disagreement among U.S. Jews about Fatah and its motivations.
Fatah casts itself as distinct from Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel (Fatah does not). But they aren't much different, according to Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of pro-Israel group StandWithUs.
Just read and listen to Fatah's anti-Israel rhetoric, educational system, and media, she said.
They "don't acknowledge there's an Israel next door," she said.
Israel "can get tough on Hamas" and weaken it politically by working with the Palestinian Authority - which is dominated by Hamas' rival, Fatah - toward creating an Israel and Palestinian state, wrote Peter Beinart for the Daily Beast.
"The problem is that in order to make Hamas suffer for opposing the two-state solution, Israel's government would have to truly embrace that solution," he wrote.
But he didn't hold out any hope that Israel would do that.
"Taking a hard line against Hamas requires taking a hard line against the settlements – and at the end of the day, this Israeli government is soft on them both," he wrote.
Near the war but far from the political ferment, Jodi Mansbach, an Atlanta urban planner, sat in a Tel Aviv cafe this week.
Her 16-year-old son is spending a semester at an Israeli high school, and she was visiting him for the Thanksgiving holiday.
After the conflict started, her son had to be transferred from his school in Be'er Sheva, in the southern Israel danger zone, to Tel Aviv - a relatively safer location, despite a bus bomb and air raid sirens.
Mansbach admires the cool way her son's teachers and counselors and Israelis in general cope with fear. They know how to handle life amid air raid sirens, shelters and rocket fire.
"It's so much more scary on the news," she said.
She also draws inspiration from people of other nations, tourists and business people from places like Sweden and Germany, who share her hotel in Tel Aviv.
"The American Jewish community should take a cue from the rest of the world. They are here," she said, referring to Jewish and non-Jewish visitors.
"They are not letting the conflict get in the way. To me, that's incredibly inspiring."
It is really sad to read the anti-semetic comments. Most of you have no idea of Jewish history or the Jewish religion or history of the region. Jews and Muslims used to get along before the British got involved prior to World War I. How many of you saying terrible things about Jewish people have Jewish friends or have ever sat down and talked with an American Jew or an Israeli? Your ignorance is what causes racism against something you know nothing about.
Seriously? Just look at Israel and maybe you'll see why people don't like them. Idk what remarks you are referring to or anything, but it's not crazy to understand why people hate them. 5 Israelis killed from rockets. What does Israel do? They bomb the heck out of Gaza killing easily over 100 people, mostly civilians who had nothing to do with rocket attacks. You know how many dead women and children I saw? Too many. It's like someone throwing a pebble at you and then shooting them with a shotgun. It was completely out of line for Israel to use as much force as they did. THAT is the issue. Israel could have sent ground troops in from the start, but chose to just bomb them into oblivion. I can't respect Israel for how they conduct themselves. I can't respect anyone out there. They are all a disgrace to civilized society.
Is that why you Jews, who were forced out of your homes by the Nazis, are doing the same to the Palestinians since the end of WW2? You are a bunch of greedy hypocrites.
I never understood antisemitism myself. In any case your argument is kind of pathetic. You're equating the death of human beings with throwing pebbles.
If you've killed one of your enemy in an act of aggression then from my point of view you should suffer whatever your enemy deems appropriate in retaliation. War is hell. We hope retaliation, if any, would be measured but if not then maybe you shouldn't have been throwing pebbles at a guy wielding a shotgun. You take that chance with each pebble thrown.
You say "isreal could've sent in ground troops" yet even in the U.S. many people do not understand why we don't turn our enemies into parking lots when we engage. Do you not think Israel could have done even MORE? They sent a strong message they wanted it to end and it did, for now. It sounds like they did exactly what they should have to stop the "pebble throwing" with minimal loss to themselves.
End Religion et al,
By your take then, Zionism is alive and doing well, no?
Former Christian – You proved Cookies' point about people not knowing the region or history and commenting on things they do not know about.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her,—how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But YOU people did not want it.38Look! YOUR house is abandoned to YOU.- Matt 23:37,38
Brampt et al
The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.The letter follows;
"His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
So then, "International" finaglers, those who did write in jewish slithering manueverings to steal Arab Lands by hook-N-crook doctrines and give such lands all for the jewish land theives brought on by slimy 2nd generation jewish banker rothchild and the jewish rothchild syndicate? Go figure!
For more info Please visit;
My bad! I wrote rothchild and should've written rothschild. My grammar regarding rightly spelling of wordages is sometime faulty, sooorrrreeeee bout dat!
Prism1234- Your as other "Christian" evangelical churches beliefs that Israel is Gods people is a total mistake! In fact modern Israel reminds me about the rebellious Israel of the times of the prophets. For example In the books of the prophets God condems Israel for making alliances with the kings of other nations of there time, instead of looking for Gods guidance and protection. Today there trust is put in the UN, rather then in God!
In the past Salomons temple represented Gods presence in between the nation, well that temple was destroyed by the Romans back in 70 CE, as it was prophecized by Christ,replacing it eventually a Muslim mosque.
As a nation, the Jews rejected Jesus as the promised messiah, until today.
So who ever is saying that about Israel is Gods nation, has to stop looking for some sort of financial advantages, and has to learn to put aside bias and study the scriptures properly!
First if all you need to read your bible you are so misinformed it is almost laughable. I have read both the old and New testaments at least 10 times from beginning to end and ISRAEL BELONGS TO GOD. The Jews will always be the chosen of God. The Messiah, Yeshua will come and save the children of Israel from their enemies. "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." You are cursing the children of God by saying the things you do. Rather than curse them, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Jesus was a Jew and HE will save his brethren. So, I challenge you to read God's word again and this time learn to read and write English better perhaps then you will understand it better.
Oh, I forgot one thing, You are a fool and you know the saying, "it is better to just seem a fool then open your mouth and confirm you are a fool"
So how long have you been in that CULT, Wizbutt?
Elizabeth – consider this passages:
For not all who [spring] from Israel are really “Israel.” Rom 9:6
42Jesus said to them: “Did YOU never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone that the builders rejected is the one that has become the chief cornerstone. From GOD this has come to be, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?43This is why I say to YOU, The kingdom of God will be taken from YOU and be given to a nation producing its fruits. Matt 21:42,43
22But YOU have approached a Mount Zion and a city of [the] living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels. Heb 12:22
Wizbutt, you lose. "Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circu mcision, which is outward in the flesh:" Say hello to Esau for me.
Elizabeth- what type of "Christian" are u? Do you know me to call me a fool? Instead of calling me a fool, at least put in ur comments some valid arguments... What's the point of reading the bible 10 times if you don't get the message in it!
@ Elizabeth, The only time Jesus ever got angry enough to resort to Violence was when He whipped the Money Changers out of the Temple.
a bunch of psychopaths.
Would ya rather have an old beat up car or a new one? Christians have the New Jerusalem. If anybody would have a claim to that land it would be the Christians, but we don't want it. The world wouldn't have this big problem if the do-gooder Dispensationalists and a bunch of Catholics hadn't twisted the Scriptures. I think Australia has a vast expanse of wilderness, but alas it's too late for that.
You are really and truly stupid and we all know you just can't fix stupid
I have heard enough about Israel to last two life times. We have a 16 Trillion dollar national debt, record number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits,disability benefits, food stamps, medicare you name it, looks like they the corporate controlled media will divert attention from the harsh economic conditions facing the States, leading up to the West's attack on Iran that AIPAC and Netan -Yahoo are pushing for, as if America needs another war.
American Jews are no friends of Israel – at least not the Jewish Democrats. They just want to keep their non-Jewish Democrat friends happy, by not supporting Israel too strongly. Oh yes, they say – we support Israel, but Hamas the right to defend itself too – Israelis have only themselves to thank for the current crisis. And you know – all their Democratic friends feel the same way but much more so – like Israel is an apartheid state – and Jews are just the Nazis of the 21st century. So message to Israelis: don't count on liberal American Jews to support Israel, because they will not have your back.
Will, you are not saying anything new here. Isaelis know they cannot trust most American Jews. Those who care about Israel make Aliyah to Israel. The rest either don't care or don't recognize Israel's legitimacy.
The whole world can gang up against Israel, but He that keepeth Israel never slumbers nor sleeps. He will not forsake His people, which HE brought into the land He GAVE to their forefathers.Heaven and earth will pass away, but God's word will not, and it will be fulfilled.....
Father God, protect your people Israel, send the legions of mighty angels with flaming swords to surround your people and protect the land you gave them. Let the weapons of their enemies turn backwards and confuse them so that their weapons be turned against each other.
Protect all those who are innocent and have no hatred even among their enemies, and shield them from harm. And through all the trials and tribulations, let the hearts of Your people Israel become humble before You so that they may hear Your voice and recognize their Messiah, Yeshua, Christ the Lord, whom they rejected, and yet, He has not forgotten them nor forsaken them....Soften their hearts, Lord God, so that they will not miss Him this time...
May the God of peace send His peace upon Israel and His people,
and may the blessings of God be upon those who bless Israel and take up for them!
In Yeshua's Name, Amen!
Look up "bill of divorcement". "Isa 50:1 Thus saith the LORD, Where [is] the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors [is it] to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away."
Man, what a load of crap! That may have sounded reasonable in the Puritan era, but not now. Do you really believe that shit will actually do something useful? You religious nitwits are a joke.
Leading Christians into denying their born-again birthrights sounds too much like Esau's BLUNDER. "Rom 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."
You people are incredible. You liberal know nothings complain about how the Jews are all horrible and make it seem like they have no business being there. Read up on your history. If my knowledge serves right, the ancient Jewish state of Israel existed long before the religion of Islam even started. They have a right to return to the country they were displaced from. Also, if the Muslim world would accept their right to be there and quit trying to exterminate them, they would be more amicable to a peaceful two state solution. These people are peace loving and are only doing what any other people would do to protect their families and country. Get a brain before you post your anti-semite remarks. And by the way, yes I am republican and am damn proud of it!
Wow holy, way to come back with an intelligent thought. Bravo!
The truth hurts Jonny.
If the Jews have the right to return to the land they were displaced from – then the Native Americans should boot every Jew off the land that was taken from them. Just sayin if that is your line of thinking it should work for all.
Yeah it does Holy, and so does stupidity and that's all I can seem to get from you.
I AM a Native American, and I would like to have my people's land back. White Devils.
Thanks Gal Pal, I was not aware that the Jews came over to America and displaced the native Americans. Thanka for the history lesson. But along your line of thinking, considering the fact that Americans and native Americans coexist peacefully now, I don't see how your comment is even relevant. We have made and continue to make monetary reparations to the native American tribes. They seem to be pretty happy with the arrangements.
Zion ism is hindu Nazi ism, four letter moved around but meaning nothing else but hinduism, racism.
I never thought I would actually see ignorance in writing, but here it is in living color.
Moderate jews should control their fanatics and right wing likud nut cases that have given Israel bad name
I am disappointed by the CNN editors. I trust CNN as my main news source and this looks like Israel practically wrote it. CNN stated a few ago that American Jews do not vote as a monolithic block and certainly do not all agree on Israeli politics. I am an American who was raised to be Jewish and I must say the human rights that the Israeli government violates astound me. I would like for the US to work as a moderate voice for peace instead of always siding with Israel. From what I've read on this site these rocket attacks are a direct response to Israel committing assassinations in Gaza. If Israel struck first how can CNN claim that Israel has universal support? I tend to agree with Khaled Meshaal when he told Christiane Amanpour that these policies should be expected to be met with violence and blowback. It is not very different from the US policy of using drones to assassinate targets, yet collateral damage seems to swell the numbers of our enemies. To characterize American Jews as people who always think Israel is right is no way for the United States gain the appearance of fairness at the negotiating table. Furthermore, in my experience it is a less-than-true, sweeping generalization unworthy of news. What I'd rather see is a nuanced and thoughtful piece on the ramifications of all the different viewpoints of sectors of the American public.
good job Harry and William
You are a fake Jew. You have never even been to Israel. You have no idea what you are talking about. You agree with the chief Jew killer of the 21st century. You are an abomination.
not sure if the jewish moderator will post my comment.. i do believe that the israelis are looking and behaving like the nazis that the west saved them from. I hope Obama shows some balls and defies the zionist lobby even if they threaten to eliminate him.
Acting like? They are the same people. They're not even human.
I am not in favor of Jews exterminating the people they displaced.
But they seem hell bent on doing it and the US does not appear to care.
I am....they did not displace anyone....someone tries to kill you...you kill them....
mike, you are wrong. ignorant hind blind ism.
Fact check. When the territory know as Palestine was given independence around 1946-1947 from the British there were both Jews and moslems living there. Who displaced who. I do not hear you people complaining that the sub-continent of India was broken up into the 2 seperate but equally hostile towards each other nations of Pakistan and India was.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye All Global Citizens,
It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.
“John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.
The Situation Today
Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville
You just posted this copy and paste crap earlier, what the fuck?
As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Reality makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!
Don’t confuse Judaism with Zionism. Zionism is what called for Founding Israel and sending millions Palestinians to refugee camp. They give all the Jews on this earth the Israeli citizenship , and demolish the Palestinians homes to build more settlements , what do u call this? Another native Indians !
The Jews can't get along with ANYONE!!!......
...Suppose they gave a war...AND NO ONE SHOWED UP !
The U.S. supports genocide. The U.S. exterminated the native Americans. The U.S. supports Israel in their Nazi conquest. Shame.
The people of Gaza are only reacting the way the Jews did when they were boarded up in Krakow Ghetto in WWII. They want to be able to move out of the ghetto they were forced into. And the Israeli's are treating them like the Jews of the Krakow ghetto were treated by the Germans.
History repeats itself. The Israeli Jews should know better but hate consumes them. They are as anti Arab as the Germans were anti Semitic. Are the current day Israelis much different than the Nazis? Not so much.
The Jews didn't vote for terrorist in Germany.
The "Palestinians" voted for a terrorist group that is launching rockets with the goal of hitting civilians. How come you can't understand that? The "Palestinians" are terrorist and do not own the land.
Well what do you know. Its just another war for the chosen people and their chosen enemies. Hey, if there weren't fighting all the time, what value do they actually bring to the human race? Oh i forgot. They bring funding to political parties. Beyond that, nobody in America gives a rat's a**. Trully. Most Americans don't even know where Israel is or what is a Palestinian. Nor do they care. Sandy's victims on the east coast deservers FAR MORE ATTENTION and they are LEGITIMATE AMERICANS. Not just an foreign influence LOBBYIST or Hollywood holocaust propagator. Who isn't tired of yet another HOLOCAUST themed movie? There is like one for every age group. AND YES BTW, HAPPY THANKSGIVING AMERICANS!!!!
you sound local an uneducated moron.
Mongrel dog, your arguments are well stated and you clearly explain your points and support your points with facts. Way to make a statement. Enjoy your turkey.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.