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None of the Politics, All of the Pride: Addressing the Gaza Conflict

Tags: Soldiers and Defense, Living Israel, Advocacy

By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman

Our motto has always been “None of the politics. All of the pride.” Ours is an a-political organization and as such, our goal has always been to help Jews everywhere connect to Israel in ways that are natural to their needs and desires, without demanding any type of political stance.

Due to the riots on the Gaza border in recent weeks, Jews everywhere are being bombarded with politically-driven messaging telling them that, at least in this situation, they cannot be proud of Israel.

As always, we at Israel Forever want to help you sift fact from fiction and encourage you in your continued connection, pride and respect for Israel.

The success of this demonization of the Jewish State and those that stand in support of her right to exist is easily measured by the reporting of alleged crimes of Israel’s military, or the silence of her society. But the truth must speak for itself.

THE CONTEXT:
The Gaza riots had been planned as a slow build up of anti-Israel propaganda, orchestrated by Hamas, an internationally recognized terror organization, born from the Muslim Brotherhood who also birthed Al Qaeda, that governs and rules the region since Israel’s disengagement in 2005. They have been inciting Gazans towards violence against Israelis for years, most recently culminating in events on the border.

Many are claiming is a response to the historical opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people - the date marking the re-establishment of the Jewish State of Israel and, in the eyes of the Arabs, the “Nakba”, the disaster - their term of reference for the return of Jewish sovereignty to Zion. Their objection to the embassy is not to the embassy itself but to the symbolic recognition of the eternal connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. Their objection is to being forced to accept the reality that the Jewish people have come home to stay and will never again leave Zion.

The riots were but another ploy to persuade the world to believe in a massacre, a genocide, and ethnic cleansing that is not taking place.

The mainstream media presented the opening of the embassy on a split screen with violent riots on the Gaza border, sending the message that the first caused the second, that the smiling people at the embassy were cruel in their happiness while people in Gaza were suffering and even dying.

The most insidious of lies have a grain of truth at their core. It is true that the riots were timed to coincide with the opening of the embassy. It is true that people in Gaza were, and still are suffering. But that’s where the truth ends and the lies begin. Context is everything and that is exactly what the media is not showing.

What is the connection between the opening of the embassy and the riots? Why are the people in Gaza suffering? At whose hands are they suffering? What can make the suffering stop?

There was no causal relationship between the two events. The parallel emphasizes only the ongoing contrast between the conflict forced upon us by the terror organizations and their supporters, the situation of the Palestinian population in Gaza under Hamas, and the normalcy life in Israel has achieved in spite of the ongoing dehumanization, threat of war, or death, in the eyes of the international media.

THE FACTS:

  • Hamas retains their grip over the people of Gaza by deceiving their population, feeding them false hope based on hatred of Jews and Israel, distorted versions of history, and generating a desperation that allows them to foster martyrdom and murder as the reasonable response.
  • They paid Gazans - funded by US and European tax dollars - to charge Israel’s borders, to try to break through while intentionally forcing women and children to the front lines as human shields to hide behind in order to attack the defending Israeli forces with explosives and firebombs.
  • Rioters set tires on fire, poisoning the air and using the smoke as a screen behind which they could infiltrate the border, injure and kidnap a soldier or, potentially, to enter a border community.
  • Largely unsuccessful in their attempts to breach the border, Hamas has developed a new way to wreak havoc on Israeli communities - firebomb kites are being flown over the border so that when they land, they ignite a fire that burns the fields of Israeli farmers - threatening their livelihood and their lives.
  • Since January, there have been over 1200 terror incidents, resulting from Hamas incitement including stabbings/attempted stabbings, shootings, car-ramming attacks, roadside bombs, stone-throwing and Molotov cocktail attacks.
  • For every terror incident, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority reward both the terrorist and their families with funds provided by US and EU monies - provided, of course, by your tax dollars.

We abhor all unnecessary loss of life. At the same time, we will not accept that the death of fewer Israelis is somehow a symbol of wrong-doing when we, our soldiers, our government continue to do everything necessary to protect all citizens of Israel who live under continuous threat of terror.

Israel went to extreme lengths to protect Gazan lives because we believe in the sanctity of all life. Fliers were dropped warning Gazans not to rush the border, not to obey Hamas. The measures chosen by the IDF to defend the borders are highly selective, so much so that we see that almost all Gazan deaths were of actual Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives - by the admission of the terrorist organizations themselves.

The reality is in stunning contrast to the blood libel of indiscriminate or disproportional force. The fact that the IDF is so successful in finding and eliminating the terrorists in an enormous crowd of rioters while not killing the human shields behind which the terrorists are hiding is something to be very proud of!

Israel is not to blame for the deaths that take place. What happened during the border riots was totally unnecessary and entirely the responsibility of Hamas, who would rather send innocents to die than accept the reality that Israel is here to stay. If children and adolescents were among those killed – they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. When terrorists decide to act against the human rights of Israelis, Israel is not to blame when terrorists are eliminated - just as happens anywhere in the world.

Yet, as masked terrorists swarmed the border of Israel, unmasked hate and lies continue to be spread through the mainstream media. The Hamas propaganda machines have expertly shaped a worldview that accepts terror as justifiable “resistance.” The media, and some community organizations, are complicit by showing select imagery or selecting incidents that convey a specific message to challenge the legitimacy of Israel’s actions.

Those that recite Kaddish for terrorists but refuse to acknowledge the death of our soldiers or the trauma caused on our citizens, or those that denounce Israel for their “mistreatment” of Gazans while ignoring the plight of other Arab groups being massacred in Syria, Yarmouk and elsewhere, do not offer any realistic way to end the misery of the people of Gaza or stop the attacks on Israel.

ASK YOURSELF:

  • How capable do you feel to respond to the claims being made? What more do you need to feel confident in doing so?
  • Have you seen the footage of Gazans who did succeed in breaching the border and what they declared they were on their way to do? Do chants for the murder of Jews matter in this ongoing conflict?
  • Have you seen any reports discussing the length of the Gaza border or the proximity of Israeli communities to the fence? Or what would be the consequence of 40,000 people trained to hate and instructed to murder Jews if they managed to storm through the border?
  • Are you aware that fires are being ignited every day, that fields and orchards that provide foods for both communities have been destroyed?
  • Have international environmental agencies recognized the fires disaster, the long term health effects on both Gazans and Israelis?
  • How do the the pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel campaigners, especially those in our own Jewish community, so easily rationalize the ongoing threat to Israeli lives?
  • How does Israel’s defensive reaction relate to our unwillingness to accept these dangers and death chants in the aftermath of the Holocaust?

The imagery used by Hamas is a clear demonstration of their ideology - they fly Nazi flags to show that their hope, their goal is the destruction of Israel.

Being informed is our most important tool to fighting the propaganda, bias and fighting the dangerous propaganda and bias that has persuaded even so many of our own people to take a stand against Israel in defense of these terrorist efforts.

The wars we fight are forced upon us. We would much prefer to live in peace with our neighbors and are perfectly willing to do so. We will not allow our borders to be breached or stand by while there are continued attacks on our population by missiles, by fire, or by demonization and incitement to murder.

You as Virtual Citizens of Israel can feel proud to stand up and proclaim your commitment and solidarity. Facts and context are the best weapons against propaganda and lies. We have prepared for you a collection of useful links and questions to help navigate the discussion around this conflict (see below).

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for life in peace for all the people of Israel and around the world. And may Hashem bless and protect all the defenders of Israel - whether on the front lines or around the world.

Discussion and talking points for addressing this conflict with friends, family, colleagues and your children

The Gaza “March of Return” was billed as a peaceful protest by people who want to improve the lives of Gazans but what is actually happening?

-- Hamas rules the Gaza strip and is responsible for everything that happens there. Are the actions shown in this clip the actions of leadership looking to improve the lives of their people?

1) Pierre Rehov’s two part film: “Behind the Smoke Screen” goes behind the scenes in Gaza to uncover the details the mainstream media is not showing and raise questions that the media refuses to address.

Part 1
Part 2

2) Armed with knives, Gazan rioters break through the fence into Israel, openly declaring their intentions.

  • What does this video tell you about the situation?
  • Do you think these people mean what they say? If not, why not? If you do believe them, what do you think should be the response to this type of behavior?
  • Why is this not being reported in mainstream media?

3) "They tell the women, you go forward, the army doesn't shoot women. They tell the children, you go forward, the army doesn't shoot kids" A rioter explains to the IDF what he experienced, what he saw and why he participated in the riots.

  • What does his description tell you about how Hamas treats the people of Gaza?
  • What does his description tell you about what Gazans know about IDF soldiers? If they know that, how come the media doesn’t report that?
  • When the media portrays the “resistance” as heroic and does not declare the use of human shields to be morally abhorrent what does that say about the media? Do they care about the lives of innocent Gazans?

4) "I opened my eyes and saw what I had done. I had fallen into the trap I had always been convinced I would not fall into. I had condemned Israel for defending itself." Daniel Sugarman

  • What causes Jews who love Israel fall into the trap of accusing her for defending herself?
  • Why is Israel being held to a different standard than any other nation on earth?
  • How can you recognize when you are not seeing an accurate or complete portrayal of what is happening in Israel? What can you do to help others recognize / differentiate between biased media coverage, outright lies and the truth?

5) “When headlines state “Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem” there is an implication of absolute symmetry between the two events, with the headline further implying an active, offensive, not reactive nor defensive motive to the Israel side.” Psychological Asymmetry: Understanding the Gaza “Return” Demonstrations

  • What responsibility do you think the media shares in the spread of anti-Israel sentiment?
  • How could this be improved through efforts by the “common person” and not only activist and advocacy organizations?

Personal Reflections:

  • When you hear about Israel in the news, what is your first reaction? How does it make you feel?
  • Do you feel you can share your feelings with others around you? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel that the news is overtly negative towards Israel? Why do you think this is happening?
  • Do you think we should respect and support subjective narratives the same as facts?
  • When discussing Israel, people often claim that, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Do you think that there is truth to this saying?
  • Why do you think it is easy to create a moral equivalency between terrorism, heroism and defense?
  • How can you tell the lies from truth in the mainstream media? What details might you be able to pay attention to that would indicate that the story might be based on an exaggeration or distortion of the facts?

Dr. Elana Yael Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, is a dynamic and passionate educator who works creatively and collaboratively in developing content and programming to deepen and activate the personal connection to Israel for Diaspora Jews. Elana’s extensive experience in public speaking, educational consulting and analytic research and writing has served to advance her vision of Israel-inspired Jewish identity that incorporates the relevance of the Holocaust, Antisemitism and Zionism to contemporary issues faced throughout the Jewish world in a continuous effort to facilitate dialogue and build bridges between the past, present and future.


HOW CAN YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Show Israelis You Care by sending a letter of friendship to the communities suffering the trauma of living amidst ongoing terror attacks.

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Tags: Soldiers and Defense, Living Israel, Advocacy

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