Israel and Palestine: co-opting a false narrative
Jason M. Shames and Lee Lasher
Now that attention has shifted from last month’s spike in Palestinian violence, including Hamas’s missile attacks on Israel, another severe battle is brewing around the world threatening the Jewish people. As we know, the recent conflict started with planned riots and then escalated until nearly 5,000 rockets were launched at Israeli civilians, homes, apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, places of worship and places of business. The relative calm today masks the extraordinary efforts by the Palestinian leadership and their supporters to actively discredit Israelis and Jews with a distorted narrative.
Let’s start with the historic accusations they make against Israel, involving genocide and ethnic cleansing. During the Holocaust, six million Jews died, reducing the total European Jewish population by more than two-thirds in just six years between 1939 and 1945. In contrast, the Palestinian population in the disputed lands and Gaza has doubled over the years. Last 21 years. Moreover, slogans and chants like “Death to Israel” and the infamous “From river to sea, Palestine will be free (of the Jews)” actually and directly call for genocide. Shouldn’t this shock everyone?
Let us not ignore either that Hamas, the most powerful and followed Palestinian political, military entity, is a terrorist organization designated by the United States. And for good reason. Hamas declares in its alliance that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam wipes it out, just as it wiped out others before it.” In contrast, in the Declaration of the State of Israel, the language includes “assures (s) complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants without distinction of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture. ; he will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. “
During the recent conflict, Palestinians have put forward a narrative that Israel was a white colonizer. They did so in the hope of leading American politics and associating as oppressed in the “white, black, brown” racial and intersectional discourse of existing American discontent. And in many cases, it worked. Intersectionality has evolved as a concept that all oppression is related in some way. And we think recent #StopHate moves have been co-opted to blur the lines and nuances of different situations, often ignoring the story and painting all conflicts with the same broad brushstroke. Where are the hashtags for “#StopJewishHate” next to “#StopAsianHate” or “#Black LivesMatter”?
Sadly, that narrative has been echoed enthusiastically by many media outlets, including the usual culprits – the New York Times and CNN – as well as other social media platforms. Even the minority of elected officials who subscribe to this false narrative seem to get more cover than the majority who support Israel and its right to defend itself.
Where is the outcry over Palestinian treatment of the LGBTQ community or religious minorities? Do progressives really want to align themselves with a brutal and repressive terrorist regime that calls for the destruction of the one Jewish homeland and fires missiles at civilians while hiding behind and endangering their own people? How is that not hypocritical?
When these and other truths are so blatantly ignored, the correct assumption is that anti-Semitism is the driving force behind these false narratives and anti-Israel bias.
We know that some parts of this issue are complex and complicated. We are not suggesting that there are easy answers. But we wholeheartedly believe that until there is a true understanding and representation of all aspects of the issues, there will be little, if any, chance of resolving this conflict. In the meantime, we will continue to defend our Israel and the Jewish people.
Jason M. Shames is CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Lee Lasher is president of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.