With each passing year, the truth about what has led to the endless cycle of violence in Israel falls deeper and deeper behind a dark cloud of distortion, misinformation, collective amnesia, and lies. As history is overrun by revisionism, politics, and hate, Israel finds itself more and more isolated in the world.
In our digital age, anyone can say anything, true or not, and people increasingly simply glance at scrolling headlines, or sensational stories, and accept them as true. This superficial consumption of misinformation has enabled Israel’s enemies and detractors to literally change the narrative, and we see it every day. Why did I have to dig for an article reported only by Jewish news outlets about the stabbing of a 13-year old Jew riding his bike, while story after story, morally equivocating Israeli retaliation and Palestinian incitement, is at the top of every Twitter feed?
I am desperate for some truth and balance. I understand that emotions run deep on both sides and objectivity can be lost, but the truth must never perish, especially in journalism. When most of the “mainstream” media selectively reports on what is happening in Israel, or chooses to blatantly ignore events, especially when Jews are being killed, I cry for truth!
The purpose of this blog is not to rehash the history or all of the biases perpetrated in the media every single day. Nor is it to bash the Palestinians, as if they have no legitimate claims – they do. And, I am not here to defend Israel blindly, as if the Jewish State bears no responsibility – it does.
But as a Head of a Jewish day school, I am increasingly concerned that fewer and fewer Jews are informed about the long history that led to the legitimate establishment of the State of Israel. Without knowledge, we are ill-prepared to defend Israel on- and offline, and more and more American Jews are drifting further away from an Israel they do not understand. Especially concerning are the young people who are left to believe that Israel is an oppressive occupier, and that the occupation is the root cause of the conflict as portrayed in the media.
As Jewish adults, parents, and educators, we have an obligation to learn our history, and teach our children. We need to tell the truth, including when it exposes Israel’s short-comings. Ultimately, it is much easier to support Israel when Israel is presented truthfully. Adolescents, especially, are tuned in to what they perceive as propaganda and “brainwashing,” and that turns off so many young Jews to Israel. We must champion truth and accuracy. As informed Jews, we should be able to answer questions such as these with facts:
What are the origins and history of the establishment of the modern state of Israel?
What are the origins of the terms Palestine and Palestinian People?
What were the Oslo Accords?
When did Fattah and Hamas recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State? (Trick question)
In 2000 what did Ehud Barak offer the Palestinians in exchange for peace? What happened?
In 2005 why did Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip?
How have Israel’s settlement policies impacted the peace process?
When Israel recaptured the Old City, in what condition did they find the Jewish Quarter? When Israelis took control of all of the holy sites what rights were granted to all religious groups?
When Israel captured the Temple Mount what decision did Moshe Dayan make concerning control of the Mount and who could pray there?
What is causing the Palestinian uprising this time? Clue – the answer has less to do with autonomy and more to do with religion. (See Brett Stephen’s piece in the Wall Street Journal.)
We need to be educated, and use our voices in the pursuit of truth. We cannot be silent, and we cannot turn away. Israel needs us, and Jews ultimately need a strong, free and safe Israel!
If you are on social media, get the truth out. Share articles that counter the lies and omissions that are circulating. Make people aware every time a Jew is attacked, unprovoked, on the streets of Israel. Have conversations with your (older) children, and help them to understand the conflict and the current crisis.
We in the U.S. cannot influence the violent events taking place in Israel. We can, however, educate ourselves and our children. We can use our voices in our communities, take to social media, pressure our politicians, and boycott publications and media outlets that are consistently biased and unfair.
We must do our part to recapture the narrative that is framed in truth!
Here are links to a few resources:
A History of the Jews by Paul Johnson