Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
What a year is coming to an end today! It began with countless good intentions and wishes!
Almost all New Year’s greetings were quietly linked to the hope for peace in Europe and worldwide.
Some things came true, many did not.
Some worries and fears became greater than feared or thought possible. Major events and disasters such as earthquakes, forest fires and floods revealed the limits of human feasibility and influence. Insecurity and fear of hatred, agitation, terror and wars are on the rise.
In 2023, Russia cynically and barbarically continued its second war of aggression against Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022.
And the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas provoked an escalation of violence in the Middle East on 7 October 2023 with around 3,000 criminals.
Our twin city was also directly affected by the brutal attack. Be’er Sheva is mourning both the cruelly murdered young people who took part in the Supernova festival between the kibbutzim of Be’eri and Reim, as well as the loss of relatives of affected families and the young citizens of the city who are still being held hostage.
In addition, there are many evacuated families and people who lived in the settlements and kibbutzim near the border and were able to flee, but who have lost all their belongings.
Israel’s reaction to these atrocities by Hamas was not only to be expected, but follows the right to self-defense.
As with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the aggressor is responsible for the resulting war. The tragic consequences, such as destruction, flight and human suffering, are mostly and primarily borne by the civilian population on both sides.
It was to be expected that the longer the Gaza war lasted, the more the mood would tilt towards Israel and its army, and that the causalities would be reversed. In the current debate, terms such as „proportionality“, „context“, „degradation“ and „violation of international law“, which are quickly put into perspective in this context, seem to be suitable for avoiding confrontation with the inhumanity and criminal actions of Hamas.
What prompts the WHO, the UN’s health organization, in its narrow-minded perception to criticize the indisputably great suffering of the people in the Gaza Strip with conspicuously dishonest argumentation hardly surprises the attentive observer.
No adequate outcry, no UN resolution against Turkey’s countless deadly attacks on the Kurds in Syria and Iraq.
No outcry against the Russian army’s targeted bombing of refugees, schools, hospitals, kindergartens and energy supply stations in Ukraine.
No outcry against the expulsion of more than a million people from Pakistan.
No outcry against the abduction and elimination of tens of thousands of critics through arbitrary justice and death sentences in Iran and China. And many other examples!
The UN should have known for decades that Hamas abuses mosques, hospitals, schools and kindergartens in the Gaza Strip as weapons depots and rocket launching pads. But now it is loudly complaining about gross human rights violations by the Israeli army because it is destroying Hamas tunnels and hideouts.
Every injured person, every dead person is one too many. Every unnecessary human suffering damages lives. Let us do everything we can to recognize and eliminate the real causes.
Let us continue to stand up for truthfulness, justice, freedom and peace.
That is a great wish. If it is to have a chance of being fulfilled, we must live in peace.
We stand by Israel’s side.
On behalf of the members of our Board of Directors, I wish you a healthy, peaceful and blessed New Year 2024! Shalom;