Gaza may be the least of Israel’s problems, according to a Washington-based expert on U.S.-Israel relations.
Speaking in New Jersey on the eve of Israel’s eight-day operation against Hamas terror targets, Mitchell Bard outlined a grim situation — with Egypt falling further under control of fundamentalists, the Sinai becoming more “lawless,” and Syria mired in a brutal civil war while its autocratic leader Bashar al-Assad clings to power.
“No one in Israel expects anyone better than Assad, and at least Assad kept the peace with Israel,” said Bard, executive director of the nonprofit American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and the on-line Jewish Virtual Library. “It would likely be that a radical Islamist would take over.”
Meanwhile, Hizbullah-smuggled missiles remain in Lebanon, and Iran is continuing its “steady march” toward a nuclear bomb. “It’s clear the sanctions have hurt economically in Iran,” said Bard, “but it has not slowed down Iran’s march toward a nuclear bomb one iota.”
Bard spoke Oct. 28 at the eighth annual Israel Bonds luncheon at Congregation Beit Shalom in Monroe, run in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.
The program also honored Frances (Faigie) and Floyd Langner for their long dedication to causes benefitting Israel. The congregation was also honored for the $3.5 million contributed to Israel Bonds over the years. The event raised another $87,000.
Ironically, said Bard, Israel is facing these threats at a time when its Jewish population stands at 5.9 million, roughly the same number murdered in the Holocaust.
Recounting the rescue and resettlement of 125,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel, he said, “Israelis take seriously the talmudic admonition that saving a single human life is like saving a world. Israel literally goes to the ends of the earth to save other humans…. Israel brought these Jews to their homeland to live in freedom and dignity.”
In introducing the Langners, former congregation president Evelyn Goldstein noted they have chaired the seven previous Israeli Bonds events as well as three missions to Israel, bringing toys for hospitalized children and checks for wounded soldiers.
The couple has long been active in pro-Israel activities at Beit Shalom and in their previous synagogue in Rockland County, NY, where they were also honored by Israel Bonds.
“Whenever Floyd speaks about Israel, he cries,” said Goldstein.