Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Happy Independence Day, Israel!

This time of year is always an emotional one for Jews and for Israel.
Last Thursday was Yom Hashoah when we remember the 6 million men, women and children who died in the Holocaust.
Last night and today, less than a week after, is Yom Hazikaron when we mourn the victims of terror attacks and the 22,993 soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend and protect our homeland Israel.
This is immediately followed by Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, reminding us that those lives were not lost in vain, but also that Israel's very existence is a miracle to be celebrated.
May G-d protect our soldiers, people and country Israel so we may celebrate many more Independence Days.
Happy 64th Israel!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Responding To Terrorism

I should probably just change the title of my whole blog to ‘Better Late Than Never’, but here goes anyway.
A month ago on Friday 9th March, Israel decided it’d had enough of the continuous yet intermittent rocket fire from Gaza (50 over the last two months), and responded to the two rockets launched that morning.
As well as targetting Palestinian terrorists about to fire more rockets into Israel, the IDF killed the leader of the PRC Zuhir al-Qaisi, and another member, who were involved in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. The IDF had intelligence that al-Qaisi was planning a terror attack along the Israel-Gaza border, similar to one the PRC had carried out last August along Israel’s border with Egypt. In that multiple-stage attack, eight Israelis were killed when Palestinian terrorists attacked them in their cars and buses with guns, missiles and a suicide-bombing. In the days following, two more Israelis were killed by rocket fire.
After Israel killed the PRC leader last month, terrorists bombarded Southern Israel with over 300 rockets in the space of just four days. Myself and friends and family would flock to Facebook to find updates from friends and family in South Israel on their status, inbetween them flocking to their bomb shelters. In response the IDF targetted weapons depots, manufacturing facilities and rocket launching sites in Gaza. 24 Palestinians were killed, 20 of whom were terrorists, most whilst actually in the process of preparing to launch more rockets.
At the funeral of one of the terrorists, Palestinian gunmen fired into the air, with one bullet striking an eight year old boy in the head. This was of course blamed on Israel, although Palestinians later revealed the truth. Two days later the child died, and the day after that two more Palestinian teenagers died from trigger-happy Palestinians’ gunfire at another terrorist’s funeral.
A picture of a young Palestinian girl was circulated online, originally tweeted by Khulood Badawi, who claimed it was “another child killed by Israel”. It was discovered that the picture was from 2006, and the girl had died in an accident. Meanwhile it transpired that Badawi works for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as an ‘Information and Media Coordinator’, with Honest Reporting calling for her dismissal:
it is absolutely unacceptable that a UN employee working specifically on dissemination of information to the media and public tweets malicious and false information to libel Israel... [when it] is trying desperately to defend more than 1 million of its civilians from the incessant murderous rain of Gazan rocket terror”.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN also called for her dismissal, pointing out that she was “actively engaged in the demonization of Israel, a member state of the United Nations. Such actions contribute to incitement, conflict and, ultimately, violence.”
A week later in an indescribably horrific terrorist attack at a Jewish school in France, an Islamist fanatic rode up on a motorbike and murdered a Rabbi, Jonathan Sandler, his 3 and 6 year old sons Gabriel and Arieh, and 8 year old Miriam Monsonego, the daughter of the school principle.
Strangely, the EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton appeared to compare the attack to “what is happening in Gaza”.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the French-Algerian terrorist Mohammed Merah, who was a member of Al Qaeda, claimed that his actions, which also included the murder of three unarmed French soldiers was to “avenge Palestinian children”. He was killed after a 32 hour siege on his apartment, in which he injured several French police officers, preventing him not only committing further attacks but also from spewing any more excuses for his barbaric, evil acts. Possibly the best response to Merah’s comment about Palestinians came from the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, who stated:
"This terrorist crime is condemned in the strongest terms by the Palestinian people and their children... No Palestinian child can accept a crime that targets innocent people. It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life”.
In any case which Palestinian children was Merah referring to? Which children in Gaza was Baroness Ashton talking about? The ones brainwashed into wasting their lives by becoming terrorists? The ones oppressed by their own government? The children killed when they’re exploited by terrorists and used as human shields, who launch rockets into Israel from civilian areas? Or the ones killed in accidents because they’re surrounded by militants building weapons or ‘symbolically’ firing guns at terrorists’ funerals?
It has been pointed out again and again by pro-Israel activists that the actions of most supposedly ‘pro-Palestinian’ activists do nothing to help the Palestinians, in fact do the opposite. There seems to be a link; and somewhere between all these incidents there are lies, distortions and exaggerations about Israel’s actions that far from helping solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict simply trigger cycles of violence, not only manifested in antisemitism against Jews and Israel but with the much wider target of ‘the West’.
Our battle for support for Israel and the truth may sometimes seem unwinnable, but there are constant reminders of successes and the importance of this battle, and who knows the effect that each of these instances can have. So whether it’s blogging or tweeting or demonstrating, we have to keep spreading the truth.
Most importantly, everyone should see the words of Eva Sandler, who lost her husband Rabbi Jonathan and her two young sons Gabriel and Ariel in the France school shooting. In a heart-wrenching article on the Chabad website, she referred to Pesach, which Jews worldwide are currently celebrating, and wrote:
Along with our tearful remembrance of our trials in Egypt so many years ago, we still tell how ‘in each and every generation, they have stood against us to destroy us.’ We all will announce in a loud and clear voice: ‘G-d saves us from their hands.’…  The spirit of the Jewish people can never be extinguished; its connection with Torah and its commandments can never be destroyed.”