Expressions of support for Israel amid protests

Local updates connected to the Israel-Hamas war

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

After the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, Kevin Kroos knew he needed to do more than write a check or attend a pro-Israel community event. Kroos, co-owner of Tool Tech in Springfield, volunteered for a week in Israel in January, packing boxes of food at an Israeli Air Force base for Israel Defense Forces soldiers in Gaza. He and a friend volunteered with the Sar-El program.

A member of the Columbus Jewish community, Kroos has conducted business in Israel through the Dayton Region Israel Trade Alliance and its trade representative, Hadas Bar-Or.

DRITA is a collaborative program of Montgomery County, Dayton, and the Dayton Development Coalition.

“My family’s connection to Israel has always been strong,” Kroos shared with The Observer. “One son studied for a semester at Ben-Gurion University, my other son participated in Birthright, and my wife and I helped lead a mission of 84 people from Columbus to Israel 20 years ago.”

In the aftermath of Oct. 7, when Kroos learned that his friend’s son had been the target of antisemitism, Kroos and his friend researched programs to meet their goals of “making a difference on the ground.”

Bar-Or highly recommended the Sar-El program. Kroos and his friend joined Sar-El volunteers from across the world, many of whom are not Jewish.

A few years ago, Bar-Or connected Tool Tech to an Israeli defense company, ASHOT, to obtain a foreign military contract. “Much of the funding provided to Israel by the United States must be spent in the states,” Kroos noted. “DRITA supports the Dayton regional economy by making these connections.”

While Kroos was in Israel in January, Bar-Or arranged for him to meet with Tel Aviv-based Israeli defense manufacturer Nidco. After his week of volunteering with Sar-El, Kroos visited several IDF bases, three massacre sites, soldiers in a hospital, and witnessed the Iron Dome missile-defense system in action.

Community advocacy
Members of the Dayton area’s Jewish community and allies wrote cards to IDF soldiers, Israelis in the Western Galilee — the Jewish Federation’s Partnership2Gether program region — and signed letters to members of Congress at the Jewish Federation’s Morning of Community Advocacy, Feb. 16 at the Boonshoft Center for Jewish Culture and Education in Centerville.

Participants took with them bracelets demanding the release of the hostages still held in Gaza, and blue ribbons to show their support for Israel in its war with Hamas.

Jennifer Holman writes a card for an IDF soldier, Feb. 16 at the Boonshoft CJCE during the Jewish Federation’s Morning of Community Advocacy. Photo: Marshall Weiss.

Dayton’s Jewish Federation also funded kiddushes and onegs at local Jewish congregations over Shabbat, Jan. 19-20, an initiative of Jewish Federations of North America billed as a national Shabbat of Love, “to embrace the Jewish people, spreading love for who we are.”

To date, Dayton’s Jewish Federation Israel Emergency Campaign has raised $854,000. To donate, click here.

Anti-Israel demonstrations
As reported in the Dayton Daily News, a small group of protestors who identified themselves as members of Codepink — Women for Peace demonstrated outside the Dayton Metro Library in Downtown Dayton on Feb. 14 in advance of Mayor Jeffrey Mims’ State of the City address there.

They called for the city and Montgomery County to end the Dayton Region Israel Trade Alliance, saying “it’s wrong and unacceptable that the city and county support a trade alliance with companies in Israel that are involved with the country’s military operations.”

The Village of Yellow Springs and Yellow Springs News have each denounced Israel with no mention of the atrocities committed by the Hamas terror organization in the village’s cease-fire resolution and a newspaper editorial, respectively.

“We believe we are witnessing the horrors of genocide, that it is wrong, and that we, as reporters — no matter how small we are — must stand on the side of truth in relaying this tragic reality,” wrote Yellow Springs News Editor Cheryl Durgans in the paper’s Jan. 26 editorial, Ceasefire now.

The editorial also encouraged readers to join anti-Israel protests Jan. 26 and 27: “On the News’ publication day, Friday, Jan. 26, Antioch College and Yellow Springs High School students, along with the organization YS Uproar, will participate in a walkout and signmaking event, in preparation for a march this Saturday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m., beginning outside the Wellness Center. The purpose of the march is to demand that the U.S. government and Village Council call for a ‘ceasefire and end to the violence perpetuated by the Israeli military,’…Some members of the News will be there in support of this effort.”

The editorial did note that college campuses “should not and cannot tolerate antisemitism any more than they should tolerate the swatting of college students who support the Palestinian cause.”

The paper later reported that more than 100 pro-Palestinian protestors joined the Jan. 27 demonstration.

The Yellow Springs Village Council, Feb. 5. Screenshot,

The Yellow Springs Village Council unanimously passed a cease-fire resolution Feb. 5. Language in the resolution stops short of calling the situation in Gaza a genocide, referring to it as a dire humanitarian crisis.

The resolution urges “the Ohio delegation, including Sens. Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance, Rep. Michael Turner and Gov. Mike DeWine, to join in support of House Resolution 786, which calls for an immediate de-escalation and permanent cease-fire in occupied Palestine and Israel.”

The Yellow Springs Village Council’s resolution also calls for an end to United States funding of wars and “military activity across the globe so we can focus our shared resources on addressing issues experienced by the people of the United States who hail from all over the world and who call this country home.”

The resolution specifically notes the village “strongly supports Palestinians,” and condemns the loss of innocent lives in Israel and Palestine.

However, it expresses moral equivalence between civilians Hamas kidnapped in Israel and terrorists held prisoner in Israel: “There are “still approximately 138 Israeli hostages held in Gaza and over 7,000 Palestinian men, children, and women being held captive without being charged with any crime in Israel.”

In addition, the village’s resolution states that “according to the United States Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Yellow Springs residents’ federal tax dollars have, since November 2023, contributed $68,965 to Israel’s weapons, and use of these weapons against Palestinian civilians is entirely unacceptable and a violation of our humanitarian principles and international law.”

Village of Yellow Springs Council Member Carmen V. Brown told The Observer she was the resolution’s primary writer and that “the document was completed after communicating with American Israeli writer Moriel Rothman-Zecher and Lebanese American attorney Albert Mohkiber.”

To read the complete March 2024 Dayton Jewish Observer, click here.

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