Iran’s Attack on Israel and its Implications

Posted on April 19, 2024 by Rabbi Arnie Gluck

Certain events are so monumental that they are known by the shorthand of the date they occurred —December 7, September 11, October 7. I don’t know whether April 13 will stick, but, in my thinking, it belongs in this category.

April 13, 2024, will be remembered as the day that the war between Iran and Israel came out of the shadows and assumed its place at center stage. On that day, a barrage of more than 300 drones, cruise missiles, and rockets was fired from Iranian soil into Israeli territory.

In Israel, the attack came in the night, after Shabbat, and lit up the skies as a mighty array of defensive weapons intercepted 99% of the Iranian missiles. Though the nature and scope of the attack was shocking and unnerving, it was not, ultimately, harmful to Israel. Minor damage was caused to an Israeli Air Force base in the Negev, and, sadly, a Bedouin girl was injured by shrapnel from an intercepted rocket.

We can only speculate about Iran’s actual intentions. Some claim that Iran meant to do real harm but failed. Others say the attack was an exercise meant to serve as a warning that Iran would not stand by while Israel attacks its military leaders in Syria and Lebanon. Some cavalierly called it a fireworks display, which I think is a foolish characterization.

The attack may have been thwarted, but was serious nonetheless, for several reasons. First, it could easily have been much worse. Iran could have launched thousands rather than hundreds of rockets that likely would have overwhelmed Israel’s defenses. Second, Iran could have incited Hezbollah to unleash some of the more than 150,000 rockets it has ready to fly from southern Lebanon, opening another front in the war and potentially overwhelming Israel’s military capacity. The fact that just one of Iran’s highly potent missiles could have claimed thousands of Israeli lives had it slipped through the IDF’s defenses should give us great pause.

On the other hand, Iran’s attack taught Israel and its friends some essential lessons.

1) We are living in the Zionist era of Jewish history.

Jews are no longer powerless. Zionism was the Jewish people’s conscious choice to reclaim power and agency so that Jews would no longer be helpless victims in an often cruel and violent world. The State of Israel has one of the strongest and most capable armies in the world, and, thanks to its partnership with the U.S., some of the most advanced weapons on earth.

October 7 and the rising tide of antisemitism worldwide reminded us that Jews are still vulnerable, but that we can and will defend ourselves. This is the lesson of Israel’s war against Hamas, which was powerfully reinforced by Israel’s defensive prowess on April 13.

2) We are not alone.

When Israel launched its just war of self-defense against Hamas in Gaza, the sympathy generated by the brutal attacks of October 7 quickly evaporated, leaving Israelis and Diaspora Jews feeling abandoned and alone in the world. It has been devastating and beyond painful to feel betrayed by those we thought were our friends and to endure rampant lies and distortions regarding Israel’s actions and intentions.

But on April 13, we learned that we are not alone. The US, the UK, France, and even Jordan came to Israel’s defense, sharing intelligence, and shooting down Iranian missiles. Even Saudi Arabia shared intelligence with Israel — a stunning development.

This reality must be carefully guarded and stewarded. As the New York Times columnist Bret Stephens has argued, Israel’s alliance with the West and its growing ties with Sunni Arab nations is more valuable to Israel than the deterrent effect of acts of reprisal, justified though they may be.

3) The war in Gaza is but one front in a global war against radical jihadist Islam.

April 13 reminded the world that Israel is at war with an enemy greater than Hamas and has, in fact, long been engaged in a shadow war that Iran has waged through its proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Last week, the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Israel, Stephanie Hallet, told a group of American rabbis that Gaza is just one front in a global conflict between the West and radical Jihadist Islam led by Iran. Israel knew this before April 13. Now there is no denying it is true, making it crystal clear what is at stake in Gaza, on Israel’s northern border, and in the entire region, as Iran moves ominously closer to producing nuclear weapons that it has sworn to use against Israel and the West.

4) A new Middle East is emerging.

It has been argued that Hamas’s attack on October 7 was intended to provoke a response that would scuttle the process of reconciliation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which would signal the end of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Saudi support for Israel on April 13 proved that this attempt has failed.

Though the death toll cynically manufactured and exaggerated by Hamas in Gaza has strained relations between Israel and its Sunni Arab neighbors, it has not derailed them. Not one of the existing peace treaties has been abrogated, not one of the Abraham Accord nations has withdrawn from the pact, and Saudi Arabia is still indicating that it intends to normalize relations with Israel. And, stunningly, Jordan and the Saudis came to Israel’s defense on April 13.

The end of the historic conflict between Israel and the Arab nations is now within reach, replaced by an even more dangerous war between the Sunni Arab states and the Shiite axis led by Iran. In this reality, Israel would be part of a powerful alliance with significant economic and security benefits.


This does not mean that we should expect Elijah to arrive at our door this seder night to announce the arrival of the messiah, but there is reason to be hopeful. If the West, led by the U.S., pulls together with the Sunni-Israeli alliance to oppose and thwart Iran’s nefarious schemes, a more peaceful and prosperous world could well emerge. For Israel, the opportunities are great, but work remains to be done and there are significant obstacles to overcome.

Chief among these is Benjamin Netanyahu and his radical right-wing government that includes racists and religious extremists. Israeli and world Jewry’s confidence in Bibi and his government are at a historic low. A large majority hold him responsible for the intelligence and operational failures of October 7 and he has failed to offer an acceptable plan for the future of Gaza. Week by week, demonstrations against Bibi and his government are growing larger and more vehement, led by the families of the hostages who blame him for the failure to secure their loved ones’ freedom.

And yet, there is a strong consensus in Israel and the Jewish world that Hamas cannot be allowed to emerge from this war with its military and governance capacities intact. That would mean a bleak future for the Palestinian population, as no one in their right mind would agree to rebuild Gaza only to have it destroyed again when Hamas resumes its attacks on Israel, which it has sworn to do. Furthermore, there are still more than 100,000 Israelis who are internal refugees, having been displaced from their homes in the north and the south. The war cannot end until they can return home, rebuild their lives, and live in peace and security.

As we prepare to celebrate our Festival of Freedom, we have much to be grateful for. Even with hearts breaking for the anguish of the hostages and their families, we can acknowledge that the IDF and its brave soldiers have made great sacrifices to secure the future of our precious Jewish State, and I believe they have fought this just war as justly as possible. Now it is possible to dream of a future in which the threats against Israel will be diminished, and a prosperous and secure Israel will be led by those who understand that Jews and Palestinians can and must live side by side in peace. We can only hope that they will be met by a new Palestinian leadership that will share this vision. To this hope and this possibility, we say l’shanah ha-ba’ah bi-Yerushalayim. Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in peace.


Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Arnie Gluck