Tag Archives: anti-Zionism

My Summer of Gaza

img65649The summer of 2014 was set to be a great one.  I had slimmed down from the year before, had recently moved into a better home closer to the beach, the World Cup had started and I was all set to enjoy the next few months. Although life always presents its challenges, nothing had come up that was so important that it would change my priorities significantly.  Then something happened that changed everything.  3 Yeshiva boys were kidnapped.

I still remember that ray of hope we had that Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal would somehow make it back safely.  The motto “Bring Back our Boys” was everywhere as we all prayed that somehow God would see them back to their homes unharmed.  I have seen many bad actions taken against Jews and decent people everywhere, but somehow I found myself more involved now than I had been for at least 13 years since 9/11.  I related to these boys.  I remember being a Yeshiva student myself in my late teens, in Israel, and knew that even if I wasn’t like these boys, I knew guys who were.  So it hit home and I found myself caring more than usual.  It wasn’t till they were found dead, murdered brutally at what we all knew immediately was the hands of Hamas terrorists, that something truly snapped in me.  That was when I, David, had finally had enough.

When tragedy strikes one never knows exactly how they will react.  Although I related so significantly to these three boys, I did not know them personally. Had I known them personally, maybe I would have been so distraught that I would have had trouble functioning.  So when I say I had finally had enough and I snapped, I felt an anger I had rarely felt in my life and I turned to my weapon of choice, the written word.  And my position as a moderate was now a thing of the past as well, as I realized that moderation is something that needs to be saved for the reasonable and fair, not the racially bigoted and brutally violent.

When the Israeli cabinet met on how to react to the boys’ deaths, I knew one thing.  As a Jew and a Zionist living in New York, unless they did nothing, I would support the Israeli government.  I committed myself to not only stating my feelings, but in rallying as many people as possible to the cause.  Not my cause, not merely the Jewish people’s cause, but in truth what should be seen as the entire world’s cause.   Before this would happen I would call someone a piece of garbage for being anti-Semitic, and occasionally even write something about it, but now it felt more personal than before.  It became so clear to me as it is to almost anyone with an unbiased desire for a peaceful world.  So now I decided to go further than I had ever gone before.  As I state on my Twitter profile, “no longer am I happy not being part of the problem. Now I want to be part of the solution.”

When Israel first went after Hamas with airstrikes in Gaza, no one really knew how serious the situation would turn out to be.  The terror tunnels they discovered were designed to carry out mass murders of Jews, and the intelligence they gathered indicated that it was going to be as soon as this Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year which falls towards the end of September. Israel’s incursion by ground troops into Gaza was used to uncover and destroy these tunnels.  However, while this was happening the situation took an ominous term.

I almost typed unexpected as well, but as a Jew paying attention, anti-Semitism is never completely unexpected.  I’ve been accused of being slightly over-sensitive to comments, but no one has ever accused me of having a persecution complex.  At least not to my face.  So when I say I was not totally shocked by the global spike in anti-Jewish words and behavior, this is not coming from someone who makes declarations that “everyone hates the Jews”.  I know better.  What we’ve seen this summer however has been epic.  Even by the usual standards of hatred.  Gone is the requirement of logic and fact.  Merely wanting to hate the Jews became enough.  Telling half of the story so that the part that exonerated Israel was conveniently missing became the strategy of the vocal and clever anti-Zionist/anti-Semite.  And gone forever is the notion that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not two in the same.  When  you have two signs at a protest that say “Free Gaza” and ” Hitler was right”, you have lost the argument that they are different.  When pogrom style attacks took place on French synagogues by people claiming to do things in support of Palestinians it was made abundantly clear that this was about hating the Jew at least as much as it was about opposing Israel.

The more Jews were attacked, whether in Israel or outside of Israel, the more committed I became, expressing my commitment through articles and letters to those expressing damaging sentiments towards the Jewish people, while also writing articles acknowledging our supporters.  Every time I heard “Free Gaza” I felt more and more compelled to shout to the world that the people of Gaza needed to be freed from Hamas not from Israel.  Every time the United Nations revealed its bizarrely obvious bias against Israel I wanted to write something to expose it.  Why?  Partially because it was cathartic, but even more because I wanted to make sure everyone I could reach would know the truth, and once I began to do that, there was no turning back.  With every missile fired at Israel, with every fatality including the 64 members of the IDF fighting to preserve Israel’s survivor, my commitment grew stronger.

Recognizing the need for unity with more than just the Jewish community, I created the Global Coalition for Israel on Facebook as a means of showing a cohesive support for the State of Israel. One month later the group is at 1300 and growing daily.  When the summer began I was worried about when I was going to get to the beach, lay in the sun and get to barbecues.  I’m not saying that I didn’t do those things to some extent during the summer of 2014, but they all took a back seat to something more important.  My new activism.  Watching CNN and FOX on a daily basis to get the news coming from the region, researching websites and news sources online, and meeting people with stories to tell from Israel and Europe, the summer of 2014 became something I never expected it would become, it became my Summer of Gaza.

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A Message from a Former Liberal

liberal2I am here to announce to the world that it is now official.  I am renouncing my Liberal status.  Let me be clear that this is not a total overhaul of my views and opinions on all the social issues that could only label me as a Liberal. Those views have not changed. The reason for me renouncing my status is that I no longer wish to be associated with people making excuses for bad behaviors and for those who are tolerant of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism.

I recently wrote 2 letters, one to George Clooney and another to Russell Brand.  Although the vast majority appear to have enjoyed and agreed with the tone and content of the letters, I have received more criticism on these letters than on anything I’ve ever written.  I don’t mind the criticism, on some levels I even like it.  I don’t suppress opinions and generally don’t wish physical harm on anyone for having opinions that differ from mine.  What I do have a problem with are people believing they are taking some sort of moral high ground by not criticizing anti-Semites or being so careful to not unfairly demand the opinion of those who could influence the thoughts of millions. I am convinced they take this approach because they either don’t truly understand how high the stakes are or because they are just too frightened to do otherwise.  Either way it’s a mistake.

Let me break it down and explain something everyone needs to understand before it is too late.  Yes I ridiculed Russell Brand.  I insulted him, referenced his mental illness, and attacked his character more than I attacked his words. Although I stand by everything I said to him, let’s say for argument sake my letter was a despicable and unfair defamation of character.  It’s still not even close to being as bad as what he is doing.  Hamas has two things people need to be aware of when looking at the entire picture.  First they have a charter that speaks of its commitment to driving every Jew out of Israel and its mission to kill every Jew alive.  The second is a sponsor, Iran,  with a large supply of weapons and a hatred for Israel, as well as a budding alliance with a rogue and nuclear North Korea.  Hamas has stated that its conditions for a cessation of hostilities includes the opening of a port and lifting of the Naval blockade.  If this would be done under Hamas leadership, it would put the very survival of the State of Israel in jeopardy.  So when Russell Brand gets on his high horse and criticizes Israel for his actions, he is in essence saying that its survival means absolutely nothing to him.  He is saying to me and to the world that it is perfectly acceptable to have North Korea ship nuclear weapons into Gaza.  So now I ask those of you attacking my words and defending him, what is more offensive? One man insulting and ridiculing another or the other calling for actions that translate into millions of dead Jews?

I’m more concerned as to whether or not George Clooney, a man who potentially can influence millions feels as his anti-Semitic fiance does, than I am with whether or not someone thinks I am out of line for connecting her words to him.  That misplaced use of Liberal ideals and so-called tolerance is unacceptable to me.  As I’ve said many times, “Never Again” does not mean Never Again unless it insults George Clooney.

Listen to the words of someone who has called himself a Liberal till now and has done so without apology.  Wake up and start realizing what is at stake here.  I do not have any children of my own, but I have many children in my family who I hope will be able to live a happy and safe life.  Too much tolerance for anti-Semitic behavior and too much concern for the feelings of people who aren’t helping us when they should is what truly offends me.  They threaten the safety of all Jewish children and ultimately all children on the planet, including the very children they pretend to defend.  If that doesn’t offend you more than a personal attack on an actor, I urge you to reexamine your values. Furthermore, this thought process that has people thinking my “nasty” letters somehow contribute to anti-Semitism is dangerously naive.  One person even said that Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s fiance, gave us a gift by turning down a spot on the panel as though she did it for any other reason other than her own benefit.  I am not going to thank an ant-Semite for something merely because they took one less action of hatred against Jews.

I used to believe that the ideal of Liberalism brought people together even when they disagreed on important issues.  Maybe it does that on some levels, but when it becomes a tool with which to hold views that translate into serious harm for the Jewish people and the entire civilized world, not only do I want no part of it, I question why anyone else who loves a peaceful and secure world would.

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The Truth Matters Only if You Value it

liesClearly I am not objective.  I love Israel and hate Hamas.  I believe Hamas is to blame for the deaths of not only Israelis but Palestinians as well.  I believe Benjamin Netanyahu is a great man and Khaleed Meshaal is an evil man.  I agree with Netanyahu when he says, “If the Arabs put down their weapons there would be no more war.  If Israel put down her weapons, there would be no more Israel.”  Clearly I am not objective.

I make no claims to be objective.  However, despite my lack of objectivity I do seek the truth.  So much so that I acknowledge that Israel has made mistakes and done some things they should not have done over the past 66 years.  But there is no truth that justifies the attacks Israel has had to endure, be they violent attacks from terrorists or verbal attacks from anti-Semites.  If presented with factual evidence of a certain truth, even one that opposes my views, I would address it honestly and make every attempt to be fair in my assessment.  The question is, why won’t my enemies do the same?

It’s because the truth has no meaning to them.  Most anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment is not based in truth.  It’s either based in ideology or communal involvement.  People like to be part of something.  Even something motivated by hate.  The ideology however is what drives everything.  It drives terrorism, stirs up the masses, allows the leaders to make statements they know are not true, but justify with their beliefs.  A friend once said to me, “people buy with emotion and justify it with logic.”  Once the masses buy the bill of goods sold to them by the mini-dictators popping up all over the world, they search for the logic to back it up.  For example, the number one lie being told is that Israel is committing genocide.  Once that message is sold to the Muslim masses by the Imans, all they need now is a complicit al-Jazeera or CNN to show a man holding an injured or dead child in his hand in Gaza and the people have their “logic” to back up the sale.

Here’s the problem with that.  When you use that method the truth is irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is pushing your agenda.  Even visual evidence won’t matter anymore.  You passionately sell an ideal, even one of hate, show one image, maybe only make one ridiculous claim that can be used to back it up, and its sold.  Russell Brand goes on a hateful diatribe against Israel on his online channel he calls the Trews, claiming it is True News, and people who like the movie star buy into it, even though he sits there and blatantly obstructs the truth from his listeners.  Hamas sells the idea that Israel is indiscriminately bombing Gaza, targeting women and children, and those who have already bought into anti-Zionism and Jew hatred see a blown up building and they’ve seen enough.  We could have a 10 page document and 100 pictures proving that Hamas put those innocents in harms way by using them as human shields and it would make no difference.  They’ve already decided what they want to believe.  The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

Do we combat this with lies of our own?  I say no.  But I do think we need to be a little less concerned about whether or not we are unfair to those allowing those lies to be spoken and should be spending less time defending those who only express an (anti-Semitic) opinion.  Tolerance is a very charitable trait, particularly in war time, and as we all know charity starts at home.

As I responded in social media when someone criticized my letter to George Clooney, “Never Again” does not mean Never Again unless we insult George Clooney.  Never Again means recognizing the signs and doing all we can to prevent it.  I believe the truth is always the right way, but being tolerant at our own expense is not.

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The Color Blue & White

The other day I was having a conversation with a relative about the concept of anti-Zionism and how it relates to anti-Semitism.    I hold the position that they are one in the same, while my relative felt that although anti-Zionism often is modern-day institutionalized anti-Semitism, it is not always the case.  This whole conversation began when I mentioned how I had just heard of Pink Floyd boycotting Israel and how it had impacted my life knowing that a band I had once considered one of my favorites had no gone to the increasing pile of celebrities I had no use for based on them being anti-Semitic.  The argument was presented, by others on the table as well, that there are plenty of Israelis who are opposed to the government, and they of course are not anti-Semites.    So I spent some time thinking about this, considered their argument, and came to this conclusion.  They’re wrong.

First of all, opposition to the current government or any government in Israel is not anti-Zionism.  Although I don’t always appreciate the way people oppose a sitting President or government policies in the United States, I don’t accuse someone of being anti-American or unpatriotic when doing so.  The foundation of all modern civilized countries is freedom.  Freedom does not mean always liking what your leaders do and it does not mean you need to be quiet about how you feel.  So opposition to government policy is not anti-Zionism.  Anti-Zionism is at best a misrepresentation of Israeli policy in order to smear Israel’s image, and at worst a refusal to recognize the rights of the Jewish people to have their own state.  The latter is the key to my argument.  Israel was formed, and still is a Jewish state.  It is a state that allows other religions to live freely, despite the claims of the likes of Roger Waters and most recently Alice Walker, and it is a country that does not sponsor, support, or fund terrorist organizations.  Israel is a democracy.  Not the kind where the military will limit the results of power provided by the people in an election, and not the kind that elects fundamentally racist, bigoted and violent governments.  It is the kind of democracy where people can live freely and with basic human rights.

The Palestinians in the West Bank were not even wanted by King Hussein’s Jordan in 1967, so when Israel captured the territory where they resided after the 6 Day War, the conditions of the people living there actually improved.  Yasser Arafat plundered the funds of the Palestinians and took much of what was earmarked for their betterment and built his own little financial empire which consisted of among other things hotels in places like the Swiss Alps.  An argument can be made that he did more to harm the Palestinians than any Israeli government ever could.

So when people proudly stand up and declare themselves anti-Israel or anti-Zionist, I hear the words Final Solution all over again.  You want to criticize the government or its leadership, go ahead.  But if you are going to oppose its very core I am going to call you what you are, a hater of Jews, also known as an anti-Semite.