The frustration is overwhelming. No nation on Earth goes to the lengths that Israel does to preserve human life, to avoid undue casualties, and to protect the dignity of those who wish to destroy her. No nation on Earth would drop leaflets before they attacked, call homes harboring combatants before destroying them, or treat those who were wounded giving shelter to terrorists. Indeed, the very tactics employed by Hamas speak to the Achilles heal of the Jewish State: they store rockets in schools, transport terrorists in ambulances, and hide behind the innocent because no army in the world values human life more than the Israel Defense Force.
In the panoply of Torah values, few, if any, rank higher than the sanctity of human life. And so the time, energy, and money which the IDF devotes to transforming the brutish imprecision of war into the - albeit imperfect - art of picking needles out of haystacks, is the ultimate kiddush Hashem, sanctification of God's name. It is the embodiment of Yeshayahu's call to be a "light to the nations" and a fulfillment of the Torah's command to be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
Next week Jews throughout the globe will read Moshe's declaration that the keeping of God's mitzvot - our people's fidelity to the manner and modes of behavior dictated to us long ago - "is your wisdom and acumen in the eyes of the people of the world (Deut. 4:6)." Rashi explains that as a result of our adherence to God's Torah - through the IDF's extreme measures to preserve human life and dignity - the nations of the world will come to consider us wise and look to us for guidance.
The irony couldn't be more striking.
Am navon vi-chacham, "a wise and discerning nation,"is hardly the description being used today by the United Nations or by the news outlets in its constituent countries. Those aren't the words emboldened on placards of protesting mobs in France, England, and Belguim. That isn't what's being grafittied onto shuls and schools across the European mainland. Quite the contrary. An uninitiated visitor to the world we live in who pored over the statements from world leaders and reports from the media, would undoubtedly conclude that wisdom and discernment is sooner to be found in Syria, where 170,000 people have been killed due to civil strife in the last three years, or amongst the Boko Haram who made 200 innocent school children vanish into thin air, or in the Ukraine where commercial airliners get blown out of the sky, than in Israel, the oppressive ogre of the Middle East.
So what now? Yes it's true that Israel is fairing better in the PR battle this time around than it has in the past. And yes it's true that amongst the rank and file of the United States of America - whom every American Jew should cherish today more than ever before - public opinion of Israel remains strong. But in the rest of the world, that's hardly the case. Despite our best efforts, despite risking our own lives to prevent deaths on the other side, the "nations of the world" simply aren't seeing the light.
It's so tempting to stop. Stop with the leaflets and the calls. Stop calling off attacks when civilians are spotted in the area. Stop using our doctors, nurses, and medics to treat their wounded. Stop the unilateral humanitarian cease fires. No one is noticing anyway. Just get in there and finish the job.
But here again, we differ from the rest of the world. If what was at stake was political good-will, it might make sense to change course. If what was motivating our decisions was simply a sense of decency and ethics, one could certainly justify a change in tactic. But that's not what it's about. Our insistence on upholding the sanctity of human life stems from something higher than politics or morality. It flows from the very core of what it means to be a Jew. Just as we maintain that our land is our land, regardless of what anyone else may contend, so too our way of protecting it must continue to be our way of protecting it regardless of what anyone else thinks.
With each soldier lost, it gets harder and harder. Each time the siren wails and the sky streaks with rocket fire, the temptation grows. Every headline and newscast, every statement and resolution, that distorts and disfigures the reality we know to be true, weakens our resolve.
We've been tested before, however. And good as we've become in recent years with regard to physical power and military might, our greatest strength has always lied inside.
נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יְשַׁקֵּר וְלֹא יִנָּחֵם
"The strength of Israel will not lie and will not repent (1 Sam 15:29)."