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Gaza War Diary: 17 FEBRUARY 2024

Cow Story Number One

Yes, you read that correctly. I want to talk about the vital importance of cows to what is happening in Israel. We’ll start off with the red cow. There actually is such a thing. Mentioned in the Torah, the ashes of the red cow are the only way to purify people so that they can participate in the sacrificial service in Temple. The last time such a ritual was performed, was over 1,962 years ago by the High Priest Ishmael.

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem is an educational institution which researches and tries to build authentic objects that would be necessary if the Temple was ever rebuilt. So far, they’ve built a menorah, and they have trumpets. It’s a great place to take kids who love the exhibits.

Well, it seems that the Temple Institute has been trying for a decade to find a red cow. After several Sisyphean, failed attempts to breed such a cow in Israel, the Institute imported five such cows from the United States and now has 20 rabbis sitting around having scholarly discussions about this whole topic. For most Israelis, it’s amusing. A curiosity. People also bring their kids to see the cows.

However, for our fanatic neighbors in Gaza, this story has been closely followed with deadly consequences. In a television interview on October 26, Hamas leader Khalid Mashal said that the “Al Aqsa Flood”— as the October 7 atrocities are labeled by Hamas terrorists — was necessary in order “to interfere with Israeli plans to import five red cows to fulfill the Zionist plans to destroy Al Aqsa in the near future… this shame will stain the foreheads of our people, and so we launched the Flood.”

While Israeli interest in this subject is almost nil, not so among outsiders. Since the war began, there have been 10,000 online searches for “red cow” among Arabic and English speakers, peaking in January, 2024. What is wrong with these people?

Cow Story Number Two

Before October 7, the dairy farm in Kibbutz Kissufim in the Gaza Envelope was a very successful enterprise, comprising 770 cows and calves, which provided four million liters of milk a year for the Tnuva cooperative. On October 7, dozens of Hamas terrorists invaded the peaceful farm from four different directions, one of them the cow shed. They killed twelve kibbutz members, six Thai workers, and kidnapped 86 year-old Shlomo Mantzur, who is still missing.

On the third day of the fighting, Reuven Heinik came from his home in Ashkelon, along with several other workers, to milk and feed the suffering animals. Unbeknownst to him, terrorists were still hiding in the barn. Tragically, Heinik was killed, but in the ensuing battle, the IDF finished off the terrorists, saving the lives of the other workers. The entire barn together with all its expensive milking equipment, became another casualty. While the remaining cows weren’t injured, the fact that it was too dangerous for anyone to reach the farm for weeks after, caused some cows to lose their ability to give milk. The calves and pregnant cows that remained were transferred to a host farm to be cared for until the dairy farm could get back on its feet. In addition, a herd of milk cows put up for sale by Kibbutz Gilgal was purchased. Tnuva has set up a fund to help Kissufim, and has donated 15 million shekel for new milking equipment and a new barn, part of a fund helping other dairy farms in the Gaza Envelope.

There are 16 dairy farms close to the border with Gaza, 5 of whom were in a no-go zone and impossible to reach until recently. The Israeli Institute for Dairy Farming was able to solicit volunteers from all corners of Israel who came together to help those farms that could be entered, making sure the cows were fed and milked. These dairy farms produce five percent of Israel’s milk supply. Hamas murdered two farm managers, and dozens of workers.

The moving ceremony setting the cornerstone for the new milk farm in Kissufim took place this past week. The plan is for the residents of Kissufim to come home soon. I see this as new grass sprouting up between the ashes of destruction, hopeful signs of the resilience of my amazing fellow Israelis. I’m filled with admiration.

Another sign of resilience is the current top song in Israel. Now, I myself am not a big hip-hop fan, but I have to say the video and the lyrics gave me a much needed lift. It’s profane. It’s vengeful. It’s young. Called Harbu Darbu, which is the Arabic term for “raining hell on your enemy,” it’s just what the doctor ordered. Not for the faint of heart.

Click here to see this video on YouTube.

I don’t think this generation is painting doves, reading Haaretz, and voting for Meretz.


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1 comments on “Gaza War Diary: 17 FEBRUARY 2024”

  1. Ryan Keogh Reply

    Whoa, I’m a huge milk fan, I drink over one gallon of milk weekly, so I am a huge fan of dairy workers wherever they are. I’m also a huge cow fan, I’d love to see pictures of the red hiefers, though I am probably more of a Holstein guy. If Hamas attacked because of a few bovine, it would be the stupidest war in history next to World War One. Not a hip hop fan, I thought the song was kind of mid. I am more of a fan of Der Fuhrer’s Face, Les Ognons, and Bogeys March. Just change the lyrics to reflect whatever the conflict is:

    “Sinwar has only got one ball,”

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