This week Israel celebrated its 62nd birthday. On Tuesday we observed Yom Haazmaut. Israel is a magical place. And Israel has a special place for you. Whether you have visited or not, whether you have lived there for a time or not, for Jews-Israel belongs to you. Perhaps you have no desire to go there –but Israel will always be there in case you need it. And for the Jewish people-the modern state of Israel is a miracle in our own time. But Israel is under attack like never before.
From the right and from the left-Israel is hounded. It seems that Israel can do no right on the world stage. Anti-Zionism (Which is another way to say Anti-Israelism) is rampant in the world. Just look at the rhetoric of Ahmadinejab from Iran. Anti-Zionism and Anti-Israelism is tied up with Anti-Semitism. They are always one and the same and whoever tries to deny this is lying or disingenuous.
Even in the 19th century when political Zionism was founded by Theodor Herzl, it was an outgrowth of rampant anti-Semitism throughout Europe. Herzl took his outrage at the anti -Semitism that filled Europe in the late 1800’s and turned it into the foundations of the modern State of Israel. He was an unlikely activist and Zionist.
Born in Budapest, Herzl came from a family that wasn’t particularly religious. But he grew up next to the Dohany’ Synagogue. Later his family moved to Vienna and Herzl studied law. He had a brief career as a lawyer but devoted himself to literature and journalism. He took a job with the Neue Freie Presse in Paris were he eventually became literary editor. He wrote several plays but Judaism was not of interest to him.
While in Paris, Herzl covered the Alfred Dreyfus trial, Dreyfus was a Jewish French Army Captain falsely accused of treason. He was found guilty although many saw the verdict as a sham. This along with the rise of a right-wing, Anti –Semitic political leader in Austria gave Herzl pause. This had been preceded in 1881 by the violent pogroms in Russia and the Ukraine aimed at Jews. It was clear to Herzl “The Jewish Problem” of Europe was not going away. And Herzl concluded that nowhere in Europe was safe. He wrote a book called, “Der Judenstaat” –The Jewish State that outlined the reasoning it was time to reclaim a land for the Jews and he outlined the mechanisms needed.
It was Herzl’s genius that enabled him to call together the first World Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, in 1897. And 50 years later the State of Israel would be born. Though Herzl would live to see his dream come true—he indeed taught us to fight for ourselves as a people and never give up on our dreams.
Today Israel needs us more than ever to fight for her continued existence and for us to help Israel fulfill its dreams.
Even as Israel is one of the highest ranked countries in scientific research and development and technology, Israel is under attack. Not only do the threats from Iran loom large over the country, the hounding and organized ridicule of Israel by forces at the United Nations are worrisome. Last fall a report was filed at the United Nations, called the Goldstone Report. Named for South African Jurist, (and Jew) Richard Goldstone this was a report on Israel’s Cast Lead Operation into Gaza the winter before. Cast Lead was designed to stop the rockets falling on southern Israel and in particular the town of S’derot. Over 9 years more than 8000 rockets fell on Southern Israel launched from Gaza by Hamas terrorists. Many of these rockets were supplied by Iran and Syria.
Hamas like its northern Lebanese counterpart Hezbollah are front terrorist organizations for Iran and Syria. They are being supplied weapons and rockets including SCUD rockets to increase their range across Israel. Today no section of Israel is safe from rocket attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah. This is a proxy war by Iran.
Operation Cast Lead was designed to stop the rockets and shut down the underground tunnels from Egypt that were the path way into Gaza. In typical Hamas form they use human shields jeopardizing civilians, they hide their weapons cache in mosques and hospitals and schools putting every day Palestinians in harm’s way. And yet the Goldstone Report chooses to ignore the real facts.
Instead the Goldstone report which is over 500 pages long and has more than 1200 footnotes slants it finding toward Hamas. Hamas can do no wrong and it is the Israeli Defense Forces who are under attack and Israeli leadership accused of war crimes by “deliberately targeting Palestinian children and women.” The report also has massive accusations that Israeli soldiers murdered Palestinians civilians. All of these accusations are the basis of declaring that Israeli committed war crimes. And this is the drumbeat at the United Nations.
As law professor and attorney, Alan Dershowitz writes in an article in the Huffington Post:
The report is demonstrably wrong about both of these critical conclusions. The hard evidence conclusively proves that the exact opposite is true, namely that:
Israel did not have a policy of targeting innocent civilians for death. Indeed the IDF went to unprecedented lengths to minimize civilian casualties; and
That Hamas did have a deliberate policy of having its combatants dress in civilian clothing, fire their rockets from densely populated areas, use civilians as human shields, and store weapons in mosques.
What is even more telling than its erroneous conclusions, however, is its deliberately skewed methodology, particularly the manner in which it used and evaluated similar evidence very differently, depending on whether it favored the Hamas or Israeli side.
There are many other outright lies that fill this heinous report. They claim Israel doesn’t adhere to the Geneva Conventions which is simply false. Even the Supreme Court of Israel has vetted the Geneva Conventions. The Goldstone Report does not address when a country may respond to attacks on its own civilians as Israel intended to do after many years of restraint.
Goldstone ignores and subverts the truth by ignoring the photographic and video evidence of Hamas storing weapons in civilian neighborhoods. And further accuses Israel of ignoring humanitarian needs during the Gaza Operation. But that is also an outright lie as Israel admitted civilians across the checkpoints to receive the necessary medical care. And often ceased –fire to admit food, water and supplies, even as Hamas would then attack the supply trucks.
The members of the Goldstone fact-finding mission include: A Pakistani woman, who was formerly Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders; An Irish man, who was formerly a Colonel in the Irish Defense Forces; a British woman,who is a professor at the London School of Economics; and a South African man, (Goldstone) the Former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. They each have made pro-Hamas statements prior to their appointment, during the investigation and afterwards. These are biased individuals.
Israel Defense Forces did their own internal report on Operation Cast Lead. And they found some irregularities, disciplined the troops and corrected their internal procedures. Israel went out of its way to hold fire against Hamas leaders especially when they were in civilian areas. And Israel raised the world’s attention by asking questions –when and how can a country can protect itself from outside rockets and does a country have an obligation to protect its own citizens. All leaders answer yes, except when it comes to Israel.
Thank goodness for the strong Israel-U.S. Partnership. Because it has been through this partnership that has slowed the progress of the Goldstone Report in recommending that Israel and its leadership be tried for war crimes in the Hague, Netherlands. The U.S. and Canada have stood firmly with Israel even as Britain has sided with the Goldstone report.
Israel continues to be isolated in the world.
The majority of Israelis recognizes that Israel needs to deal fairly with the Palestinians. More must be done to ease their plight. More democratic institutions must be created and supported in the Palestinian territories. More aid and education must be available. But in essence there are now two Palestinian entities the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—One controlled by Fatah and the other by the more militant Hamas. Israel must stop the settlements and must withdraw from specific West Bank areas. Many in Israel recognize this.
But we must also realize that Israel is under attack and that there is a double standard. Based in anti-Semitism. And we must not be silent.
And so as Israel celebrates its 62nd birthday-she needs us American Jews and allies to continue to speak up. To be her ambassadors here in the states. To be informed about what is happening there. And yes, to visit, to support with our investments through Israel Bonds, and perhaps even to volunteer for a program there –like Sar El in which you directly do non-military jobs for the Israel defense forces so you can free up soldiers to do the guarding and soldiering to keep Israel continuously safe.
You can come to Israel’s defense where ever you are even at a dinner party.
The Israeli Consulate here has a wonderful program called Citizen Ambassadors. You can be an advocate for Israel. And learn how to answer and address the hatred thrown in Israel’s face that is just a new twist on the “Jewish Problem” faced by Herzl more than a century ago.
Visit the Consulate Website (www.israelconsulatela.org) for more information on how to be a Citizen Ambassador. And let’s celebrate Israel’s amazing achievements in Science, Technology, Higher Education, Agriculture, the Arts and so much more. Don’t you love your cell phone (technology invented in Israel)? Love to Instant Message (technology invented in Israel)? Drip irrigation in your garden? (technology invented in Israel.
Indeed Israel is the hope. Let us continue to help her be the hope and let us help her live her highest ideals including greater ethical treatment for the Palestinian people as it protects its own citizens.
 Dershowitz, Alan, Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-dershowitz/the-case-against-the-gold_b_442412.html, February 1, 2010
 Vote at the United Nations, February 2010