|Loosely translated, this means “The People of Israel Live”|
So, lately, I’ve been called “angry.”
I’ve been called “biased.”
I’ve been called “one-sided.”
Well, yes. Perhaps I am all of those things.
And I would have been those things regardless of what else I am. But today, I’m going to say something I never quite declared out loud “just like that”. Something that is a pride and joy in my life but something that was never quite encouraged to be proclaimed.
I am Jewish.
There, I’ve said it.
Why is this a fact that is not always stated just like that?
Because Jews, throughout time, have been exposed to a special brand of misinformation, a special brand of misunderstanding, a special brand of hate.
So, I grew up proud of being Jewish but not flaunting it. I went to a mostly Jewish elementary and high school (though there was also diversity and that was always something I cherished in my educational institutions). My family celebrated the main holidays but we still drove on Saturday, watched TV Friday nights.
We kept kosher, observed the holidays with respect and reverence.
But never really advertised our faith – though we were never told to hush it up either.
It was just something we were.
In 2006, when my firstborn had his bar mitzvah, we joined a synagogue for the first time. Attending High Holidays that year instilled in me a feeling I had never experienced to date, but one that grows with the years. A spirituality, a comfort, a soothing, and an awe of my own religion that I was now exploring.
I have always defended my faith in the face of the ignorant, low-informed, misinformed. I was never the object of anti-Semitism personally but knew it was out there, lurking like an evil that could rear its head at any time.
But I find myself, now, defending my spiritual homeland in her time of need. And that astounds me. What astounds me even more is the growing number of Jews who stand against her.
For those who are unaware, every Jew in the world is entitled to citizenship in Israel. No questions asked. Jews are welcome to emigrate to Israel and receive citizenship no matter from where they come. Welcomed with open arms.
Having visited Israel, the feeling is even stronger. The land is magical. The country and spirit and feelings come home with you. You never forget your visit. For Jew and non-Jew alike, the country holds mysteries, histories, sights, sites, and sounds the likes of which are found nowhere else in the world.
And now, that country is being torn apart in rhetoric from news media, politicians, and every social media insta-humanitarian worldwide.
There have been extremely deadly conflicts for years, across the world. Afghanistan. Syria. Libya. Egypt. Iran. Iraq. The list goes on.
I saw no one on my Facebook or Twitter timelines cry out for justice for those who were being assaulted, tortured, murdered in those distant lands.
But suddenly, in this conflict, they come out of the woodwork. They criticize Israel. They dish out scorn and disappointment and condemnation on Israel. They regurgitate the anti-Semitic lines that are watered down for palatable consumption.
Let’s take some facts into consideration – because those are irrefutable.
The government of the Palestinian people is a terrorist organization. This is a fact. Hamas, which is a recognized terrorist organization, is in partnership with the Palestinian Authority. Elected by the Palestinian people, for the record, in hopes of regaining Israel for themselves.
Hamas’s very charter includes the following:
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.
The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.
These are facts.
The Gaza Strip was given to the Palestinian people in order to invite peace and coexistence. They razed greenhouses and destroyed settlements in order to build an infrastructure that was committed to the destruction of Israel. The sophisticated terrorist tunnels uncovered by the IDF shows the level of commitment to terrorism by Hamas. Hundreds of millions of dollars, an estimated 800,000 tons of concrete provided to Gaza to build schools and homes and hospitals were appropriated by the terrorists to build these networks of tunnels.
The list of facts goes on. The sad thing is, most people who are outraged aren’t looking at the facts. They’re looking at the photos and videos terrorists want them to see. The ones that tug at everyone’s heartstrings (yes, mine, yes Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s, yes, the heartstrings of supporters of Israel). Those photos are heartwrenching. No one is disputing that.
But why haven’t the terrorists released photos of men killed by IDF retaliation? Because grown men don’t pull on the bleeding heartstrings of the average middle-aged woman in North America as much as photos of children bleeding and broken.
That, too, is a fact. Evidenced by the condemnation of Israel for causing the deaths of children and shouted out by those average bleeding-heart middle-aged women in North America. Oh, men too. And not merely middle-aged. (I’m an equal-opportunity ranter, if nothing else.)
People on Facebook and Twitter, who have never, in my interactions with them, commented or cried out about any other humanitarian crisis the world has seen since the influx of social media. People who fight against Israeli rockets now, in cherry-picked articles and misinformed rants, who never spoke out against the Iranian police who executed Christian infidels, or the Syrian president who used chemical weapons against his own people, killing thousands, many of them children. People who engaged in hashtag activism and not much more when hundreds of children were abducted by terrorists Boko Haram, but whose timelines don’t reflect an ongoing humanitarian attitude or concern for those now-forgotten girls.
So it isn’t the children. It isn’t the inhumanity. The only common denominator has to be that it’s Israel doing the dirty deed now.
I won’t go into my presentation on Israel’s right to defend herself. After all, most of you have heard it. And you all know it, too, even if you don’t admit it. Or grudgingly admit it. For over a decade, rockets have been fired at Israel’s men, women and – yes – children who have had 15 seconds to run to the nearest bomb shelter or crouch in terror by the side of the road, or in their homes, praying that the rocket would be intercepted, fall short of its target, or that falling debris would avoid them and their families. There are cities in Israel where children don’t even play outside because the cities are targets at all times. Would you accept sitting back and doing nothing if your kids could never be allowed to play outside?
A decade. Thousands and thousands of rockets. And yes, there have been deaths. But Israel, unlike Hamas terrorists, doesn’t parade those bodies for the world to see. That isn’t the way civilized societies operate.
I’ve heard the moral equivalence. Excuse me, the attempts at moral parity. The argument cannot be made. Terrorists who have it in writing that they want the other side dead, obliterated, versus a democratic, free society that just wants peace. A country that, in over a decade of bombardment, has only responded militarily on 3 occasions. How on earth can anyone even have the chutzpah to attempt a comparison of morality? Did anyone feel badly for Al Qaeda supporters who were caught in crossfire when the US Army bombed the terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? Thousands, including children, of Syrians gassed to death?
Oh, wait, no they didn’t. Casualties of war. Collatarel damage.So what if bin Laden hid behind his wives, they were terrorist sympathizers, they’re dead, who cares?
Does anyone decry the usage, and deaths, of over 160 Palestinian children who were killed digging terrorist tunnels? Haven’t heard anyone outraged over those deaths on Facebook. And I’d wager that is more a by-product of low-informed slacktivists who pick and choose what they learn, listen to, and condemn.
And while we’re at it: this escalation began when 3 innocent Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered by Hamas members. I saw NO tears on anyone’s Facebook pages where now, I see tears for the casualties of war. More specifically, the casualties of the IDF’s retaliatory strikes. I see no tears for Israeli soldiers or civilians killed by Hamas rockets. Again, the low-informed, willfully ignorant minions of social media.
People who don’t even understand the history of Israel and this conflict, believe Palestine is a state, and that Palestinians have been a people since time immemorial are now condemning Israel for reacting in a way that any other country would (without incurring worldwide scorn).
Let’s talk about that – if your house was being pelted by rocks by your neighbor, on a daily basis; if your kids were forced to run to shelter because the kid next door had yelled “I’m coming to kill you now!” and was running full force with a massive baseball bat; if your city was suddenly invaded by “militants” (the watered-down version of “terrorist” for the verbally squeamish and politically correct) emerging from tunnels that came up in your back yard, your kids’ school, or your workplace, and these invaders had tranquilizers, handcuffs and the ability to abduct you or your children…
Would you not want the full force of the law to come down upon them?
And let’s talk about that. Israel has broken no international laws. Israel has fired in retaliation, on military targets, avoiding civilians when possible – and in fact, going out of the way to avoid civilians. Those actions are perfectly legal in the court of international law in matters of war and self-defense. Fact.
Hamas, on the other hand, has fired first, fired on civilian targets, broken every ceasefire, and fired from behind human shields – men, women and children. Those are not only illegal, they are crimes against humanity.
But it seems the once-exalted United Nations Human Rights Council (what a joke) sees fit to condemn Israel instead of Hamas.
And it seems – even more tragically – that the uninformed world has taken that stance as well.
Hamas has broken every single ceasefire since the escalation of hostilities has begun. Even when a ceasefire has lasted for days, Hamas tends to fire 2 hours (on average) before the truce is to expire. Might one make the illogical assumption that Hamas time is 2 hours earlier than Israeli time? They are, after all, a “separate state” according to those who wish to believe that lie.
Or can it just be that Hamas has no intentions or desires to make peace? Hamas wants this war. There has been literature recovered from captured Hamas terrorists outlining exactly how to get the world opinion to turn against Israel: fire from behind civilians. Fire from civilian structures (homes, hospitals, mosques, schools). Hamas knows the PR war is theirs to win because they already know the tenuous acceptance of Israel, Israelis, and Jews is breakable with the slightest provocation.
These are dangerous people. Inflating the death toll – whether the numbers are true or not – has actually had two effects: Hamas has turned the world against Israel, and has legitimized itself on the world stage.
It’s the equivalent of a hockey player taking a dive over an opponent’s stick, feigning indignant injury and drawing a penalty for the other side to get the man advantage for his team.
Only this is real life. And real lives are at stake. On both sides.
It doesn’t help that the United States has shown an unprecedented hostility toward Israel since Obama took office. It doesn’t help that the world condemns Canada for standing unequivocally in support of Israel.
But I’m much prouder to be Canadian than so many of my American friends and loved ones are to be American when it comes to this topic. And so proud to be in a country whose leader takes a stand on the right side of things instead of joining the Muslim extremists, their supporters and the misinformed in hatred and disdain of all-things-Israeli.
So, am I biased? Only toward the strong side of justice. Fire upon me, I’ll fire back.
Am I angry? Damn straight. I’m angry that I am being accused of blind embrace of Israel when all along, I am using facts in defending a country surrounded by massive populations of people who want to see Israel obliterated (it isn’t just Hamas – they’re just the ones acting on it now). I am defending a country that has only wanted to live in peace since its inception – and even before – and I am defending people who did not ask for bomb shelters in pretty colors on their playgrounds but know it is sadly necessary to have those structures.
I am defending an army that has sent hundreds of thousands of leaflets, text messages, phone calls and “dummy bombs” (blanks) to plead for civilians to flee the area because they are in a military zone. An army that, when pushed to the wall, pushes back. According to International law of war, legally and above and beyond.
I am defending my spiritual homeland whose destruction is the platform of many a terrorist group and political party (see: Iran).
And I am angry that I am seeing people crawl out of their hidey-holes of parties and lunches and make-up and fashion and everyday life normally unaffected by anything in the news outside of the sports scores, the weather, and the latest movies only to condemn Israel when Israel fights back against terrorism. People who didn’t give a damn when Syrians were gassed. And Iranians slaughtered. And Christians beheaded in Iraq. All by Muslim extremists.
People who couldn’t tell me, without the inimitable help of Google, who Mariam Ibrahim is. Or Saeed Abedini. Or Andrew Tahmoreesi. Or Kenneth Bae.
People who suddenly develop a moral, societal conscience.
Because it is Israel. Because it is Palestinians. Because suddenly, it is children.
And perhaps, not in all cases, but in many…
Because it is Jewish.