By Steve Feldman
Streets in large and small cities throughout America have been the scene of anti-Israel/anti-Jewish demonstrations.
Print, broadcast and electronic media are forums for an abundance of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish articles, analyses, columns, opinion pieces and letters.
Social media activity by “celebrities” and others has been an affront to decency and truth.
Labor unions have approved or are considering anti-Israel/anti-Jewish measures.
Anti-Israel/anti-Jewish manifestations have made their way into K-12 schools, while such activities at universities and colleges have been standard fare for years.
We must fight back aggressively and proactively.
Anti-Jewish rhetoric and behavior increased in recent years: observant Jews assaulted in New York, murders, property damage during some Black Lives Matter-related events, hostile environments on campuses and pronouncements from members of Congress. After Israel was forced to use military power to stop Palestinian-Arab terrorists, who fired more than 4,000 rockets targeting Jewish communities last month, and defensive measures were intentionally falsely depicted throughout traditional media and social media, Jew-hatred intensified from the street to the media.
Know this: Anti-Israel/anti-Zionist words and actions are anti-Jewish. Diaspora Jews are targeted because of professed affronts by Israel. Israel is targeted because it is the sole nation-state of the Jewish People. To paraphrase a slogan that has been popular in recent years: It’s you they are after. Israel just happens to be between them and you. Israel is singled out by international organizations, “human rights” groups, columnists and others as a pathway to attack Jews and Jewry. We must realize this fact, understand it and make clear that we are onto this scheme. There is no point in any Jewish person denying what is abundantly clear — except to try to deceive oneself.
As the anti-Israel/anti-Jewish propaganda becomes more pervasive, it sows more Jew-hatred, which in turn sows more physical assaults on people and property; these sow panic which sows a reduction in public support for Israel and even fear of being identified as Jewish; weakness sows more attacks and the vicious cycle worsens.
Defensive advocacy is necessary at times. Proactive measures are vital. Going forward there must be a barrage of advocacy/activism to take back the truth and to regain our peace of mind. Strength carries the day.
Individuals, organizations and institutions — all of klal Yisrael — must be engaged and do a better job of boldly telling Israel’s and the Jewish people’s story. We must know the facts and insist that news media offer balanced reporting and accurate information with proper context regarding events in ancient times, in the 20th century and currently. Social media must not censor pro-Israel messages.
Most who attack Israel rhetorically or who participate in anti-Israel protests would be hard-pressed to locate Israel on a map and don’t know a thing about Israel. They go with the flow regarding the social justice cause-du-jour and do not question the propaganda. Our message must become the dominant one.
Israel and the Jewish world recently commemorated another anniversary of the Israel Defense Forces’ miraculous victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. Deliberate misinformation about the events leading up to this defensive war and the war’s outcome has caused Israel/the Jewish people to be inverted from “David” into “Goliath” in the eyes of much of the world.
The same misinformation — today with the active participation of the media — warped perceptions about Israel’s legal actions and military defense in response to Gazans’ rocket attacks. Denials of Jewish history, Jewish self-determination and geo-politics make this a “perfect storm.”
The truth campaign must take on media outlets, educational institutions, social media influencers, politicians and even some within our own community. We must call; write; post on social media; and speak with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Our organization, the Zionist Organization of America — the longest-serving pro-Israel organization — has a wealth of information on the key issues, and we can guide advocates and activists to original source materials and teach effective advocacy. Also: If you see or hear a discussion or article about Israel that one suspects is slanderous, if one is in a social media debate and needs the facts, contact us at [email protected].
The mobilization must begin immediately.
Some other simple things we each can do: Contact officials in every city, township, borough and village to press for strong resolutions in support of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the necessity that it must defend itself (not that it has a “right” to); press school board members to incorporate accurate, factual history and current events regarding our close and important ally Israel; make sure every congregation has a strong, vibrant, unapologetically pro-Israel advocacy committee with regular events and activities; give every bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah boy and girl Israeli flags; and encourage “buy Israel” projects.
Why wait for a war? Gather friends and stand near a busy intersection with American and Israeli flags and signs with slogans in support of Israel. Get busy on social media correcting lies and replacing them with truths. Meet with local reporters, editors, news directors and other media figures in advance of crises.
We must also circulate the truth about groups and individuals out to harm Jews and Israel. Point out that what is proffered as “pro-Palestinian” is actually anti-Israel. Those activists make no pleas to reform Palestinian-Arab government or society — they solely attack Jews and Israel. Let’s put Israel’s enemies on the defensive.
We each need to be a part of this effort lest we all become victims of the anti-Israel/anti-Jewish tsunami that threatens to make life in America as Jews difficult.
Steve Feldman is executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America.