The views expressed in this article may not reflect CJPAC policies and are expressed as the individual thoughts of Graham Rotenberg.
On November 14, after more than 750 rockets were fired from Gaza this year alone, Israel launched operation “Pillar of Defense” and killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military operations.
Despite being pro-Israel my entire life, this escalation resonated with me and I tuned into the response in a new way.I began to reflect on the importance of being supportive of Israel and the state’s right to self-defense. I came to feel that now, while Israel is engaged not only in a military operation but a public relations war as well, it is even more important for me to voice my support and speak out against misrepresentation and biased media as best as I am able to. It also struck me that we, as a community, have a responsibility to stand with Israel both when it is in conflict and in times of peace. Below, I have identified three reasons why this is critical.
First, Israel’s right to live in peace and security within sound borders side by side with her neighbours is an issue of international importance. As a staunch supporter of national sovereignty, I have watched as Israel’s right to self-defense is questioned and undermined in a way no other nation would ever have to endure. While Israel is bombarded with 750+ rockets, the state continues to supply medical supplies, building supplies and electricity to Gaza. Remarkably, (though not surprisingly) this is never mentioned in mainstream media but instead, Israel is routinely cast as a human rights violator and war criminal by thug countries like North Korea, Iran and Syria. I find this abhorrent and laughably ironic considering these countries’ real human rights violations. Throughout this conflict and throughout its history, Israel has been providing aid to Gaza citizens, allowing injured civilians into Israel for medical treatment and providing them with essential medical supplies. What has Gaza done? Targeted Israeli civilians with rocket fire deliberately aimed at the Israeli civilian population (something Israel has been desperately attempting to avoid in Gaza).
This highlights one of the many the incontrovertible distinctions between Israel and Hamas: Israel shares the Canadian values of democracy, human rights and moral military action. Israel stands as the only democracy in the Middle East, champions for women’s rights, gay rights, freedom of speech and a free press. When these facts are treated as side notes, as they have been throughout this conflict, it is crucial to remind people of what Israel stands for.
Second, like many people, I watched numerous media outlets report on the conflict and was consistently dismayed by the frequent biased statements – varying in severity from station to station. For instance, in a recent TV interview, Hamas leaders were described as having PhDs – somehow implying that these terrorists were ‘rational actors’. In the same interview, Israel was also described as “sieging Gaza”. These words seek to imply a moral equivalency between a legitimate state and a terrorist organization. For me, this begs the question: would any ‘rational actors’ Live by the following mandate, taken directly from the Hamas Charter, “The Day of Judgment will not come until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me come and kill him.” The answer is clear, rational, peace seeking individual would not. This horrific language and blatant violent desire serves as obstacles to peace and are indicative of the true intentions of the Hamas militants.
Third, it is crucial that the men and women of the Israel Defence Force know that they are supported by citizens of Israel and the Diaspora community.
As they risk their lives to ensure that a Jewish homeland exists forever, it is imperative that they feel supported practically and psychologically. When I think about what they do, I can’t help but think about myself and people my age. If I were in Israel today, I would be serving in the military. This fact is sobering and reminds me that despite media coverage, the soldiers on the front lines of this operation are barely older than I am.
Although this conflict appears to have deescalated in light of the recent cease-fire, Gaza continues to hurl rockets into Israel. Like Hamas, so too must we continue our patterns and carry on supporting Israel both in times of conflict and peace. .
I look forward to keeping everyone updated on all that is going on at CJPAC.
Until next time,