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Consul General Tells of Israel's Struggles

Andy David from Israeli consulate in San Francisco speaks Tuesday night at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette.

The consul general of Israel came to the East Bay Tuesday night and enumerated the struggles his country faces in Gaza fighting.

A crowd of 250 gathered at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette to hear a talk by Andy David, the consul general of Israel in the San Francisco consulate.

Dr. David (he has a dental degree) described five layers of struggles:

  • The military struggle — "the one we read about in the newspapers, the airplanes, the rockets … the reserves now waiting maybe to go into Gaza."
  • The struggle "for our society" — David told the temple audience that Israelis are moved that "your hearts are with the people back home, back in Israel." Part of the Israelis' hope, he said, is "knowing you are with them and they are not alone."
  • The struggle "for the legitimacy of our actions" — the Israeli military is constantly put in the position of planning a military strike and calling it off at the last moment when "they see something in the scopes or cameras that might be a civilian who might be a casualty in the area," David said.
  • The battle "for the legitimacy of our leadership" — a national election is scheduled for Jan. 27: "We do not wait four years," David said. "We are impatient. We are argumentative." Before deciding earlier this month to launch military action, the political leadership recently counted up 800 rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel this year, double the number from 2011, David said. "What if 800 rockets landed on the Bay Area?" David asked. "What would it do to your lifestyle? What would it do to your happiness."
  • The struggle for public opinion — David said President Obama, the Congress, the State Department and the American people seem to be supportive of "Israel's right to defend itself." But, David added, "there are still some voices that say Israel is the aggressor."

In the latter struggle, David noted the government of Israel was using social media tools. In the new few days, the government would be employing tweets and asking for supporters to take action. "Please re-tweet," David said, "but I'd better not say much more about it."

With media emphasis on military details, David said, Israeli humanitarian efforts do not get reported. Israeli authorities told him that, on Tuesday alone, 46 truckloads of food and medical supplies came from Israel into Gaza.

After David spoke, a Skype connection was set up with Ayal, an Israeli educator in the Beersheba area, with the computer screen projected on a big screen at the front of the sanctuary. Because of the rocket attacks, many lessons have been moved into bomb shelters, Ayal said. More than 500 children are being taught at seven shelters around the Beersheba area, Ayal said. His program has a partnership with the Jewish Federation of the East Bay.

Temple Israel and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay on Sunday invited David to speak at Temple Isaiah and put together the program in two days, said Rabbi Roberto Graetz.

Tuesday reports from Israel

Peace in the Mideast is elusive at the moment. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Israel Tuesday to encourage diplomatic solutions to the crisis between Israel and Palestine, the Huffington Post reported.

Israel demands an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt. It also wants international guarantees that Hamas will not rearm or use Egypt's Sinai region, which abuts both Gaza and southern Israel, to attack Israelis.

Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007. Israel has rejected such demands in the past.

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