Residents hold gathering to support Israel

Bob Good says Israel is the “apple of God’s eye”

By Heather Michon

A public meeting in support of Israel at the Fluvanna County Public Library on Wednesday night (Dec. 20) was in turns solemn, emotional, and –  ultimately – confrontational.

“Fluvanna Supports Israel” was hosted by Palmyra resident Sam Richardson, a sociologist who recently encouraged the Board of Supervisors to issue a resolution in support of Israel in its war against the terrorist group Hamas. 

Speakers included local Rabbi Baruch Siegel and Representative Bob Good. The audience also heard recorded greetings from two individuals currently living in Israel about daily life in a time of war.

About 40 people attended the meeting. Richardson said gatherings of this type were simply not happening in small-town America. 

“We will probably not agree on everything, but that’s a good thing, right?” he said. “It’s very Israeli to have an intense, heated discussion and then go out and have a meal and part with a hug.”

“What does it mean that I am a Jew and a Zionist?” said Rabbi Siegel. “It means that the fabric of my life includes that I identify as a part of the people of Israel. Should I want to or need to have a place to be safe, I know I can go to Israel, where my neighbors will be looking out for me.”

Wednesday marked the 75th day of the Israel-Hamas war. The conflict was sparked on Oct. 7 by a surprise attack by Hamas on Israelis living near the border with the Gaza Strip, a 140-square-mile territory that is home to over two million Palestinians. An estimated 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 300 were taken as hostages. Vowing to eradicate Hamas forces, Israel has launched a military response that has killed an estimated 20,000 Palestinians to date and sparked a humanitarian crisis.

Bob Good has been one of the House of Representatives staunchest supporters of Israel. He told the audience his Biblical worldview had informed his love of Israel and the Jewish people since childhood.

“I believe that Israel is the apple of God’s eye,” he said.

As the question-and-answer session began, it became clear that about a half-dozen people in the audience were not there in support of Israel.

One of the first questions came from a young medical student asking about the civilian deaths in Gaza and specifically Israel’s reported, but unconfirmed, use of white phosphorus in some of its munitions. 

Addressing Good, she asked about an amendment to a pending supplemental aid bill currently in Congress that would condition aid on Israel’s adherence to international law. “My question to you is, do you support this amendment? Do you support the idea that Israel should be behaving in accordance with international law in its offensive against the Palestinians?”

“I support Israel unequivocally,” Good replied. “I think they should be able to do whatever they need to do.”

Emotions on both sides of the ideological divide quickly boiled over, with pro-Palestinian supporters claiming Israel was engaging in genocide and ethnic cleansing and pro-Israel supporters pushing back against those claims. 

“I’m sorry, this is outrageous,” one woman called out in clear distress. “I have family in Israel!”

Finally, a woman who had been calling out for support for Palestine was told to leave or “we’re calling the sheriff’s office,” said Richardson.

“You’re all supporting genocide!” she shouted from the hallway as the crowd milled around her.

The session ended with prayers for Israel, the Israeli Defense Force, the United States, and the more than 100 Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza.

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