Intelligence services often talk of “chatter”, being increased email traffic surveyed on the basis of key words or communication patterns.
I too have noticed a noticeable increase in email over the past few weeks, from many different concerned Jewish people about many concerning Jewish issues. Some of the issues have been profiled on this blog. Examples include:
– Staging of the Seven Jewish children play
– Expulsion of Israeli diplomat
– Banning of Shechitah in New Zealand
– Visits of anti-Israel speakers, including anti-Zionist Jews to Perth
– Anti-Semitic activists roaming our streets
– Negative reactions to Israel’s defence of its borders
There are many other issues. Jewish people are becoming more concerned with the general state of security that surrounds them.
The myth of the “powerful Jewish lobby” has been put forward as a counter-argument to Jewish representation on the above issues on more than one occasion. It represents the “double whammy” of having attention drawn toward a statement that is anti-Semitic being automatically dismissed by an even greater anti-Semitic libel, the supposed existence of “Jewish control”. It is as if the claim“they are Jewish ” is reason enough to dismiss the validity of a reasoned discussion point being made or a fact being pointed out.
In all of the above instances, decisions have not fallen in favour of the Jewish community’s advocated position and/or the community has been portrayed in a negative light. Some people are easily demoralised by this. Others are fearful of the cumulative impact that results from the legitimate concerns of the community being sidelined, not responded to, dismissed, or berated. Not everything will always go the way the community desires – that is not expected. However a fair hearing and a balanced opportunity to contribute towards advocating a position is expected. Signs are emerging that such an opportunity is being denied or compromised as evidenced by the events of recent weeks.
I hope that Australia doesn’t end up putting its Jewish population at odds with its loyalty to Australia due to matters of religious freedom, political freedom, societal values or physical security.
Indications of unpleasant outcomes aside, I am not so easily discouraged. My Jewish identity doesn’t get fed by the negative outcomes of those who seek to destroy, discredit or outlaw my Jewish way of life. My Jewish identity is built on the positive experience of living as a Jew and doing mitzvot that make me proud of everything that Judaism stands for.
Jewish history is replete with abounding examples of Jewish continuity in the face of adversity and hardship. Societies that turn against Jewish communities end up consuming themselves with their own selfishness. Nations that do not honourably host their Jewish citizens and extend them freedom of religious practice end up losing the loyalty and talent that their Jewish population contributes to their economic growth and prosperity.
Over the past few days the aforementioned chatter has turned into a thunderous cacophonic symphony. Hundreds of emails every hour about the Gaza Flotilla. Each of them offering justification of Israel’s response. Each of them providing information, photos, links, analysis, and opinions about what should or shouldn’t have occurred, all applying the benefit of hindsight. There is a lot of factual information amongst all of this material to distil. However it is a worthless waste of bandwith when most people will never see beyond the headline and will never take the time to rationalise this unfortunate event, within its true context – a state of war.
Just as I was starting to lose a bit of hope I noticed one article. It was published in December 2009, and perhaps its value is that it contains the benefit of great foresight.
In every pro Palestinian European forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: “We want freedom for the people!” Not true.
They are never preoccupied when Hamas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press.
The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don’t inform, they propagandize.
When reporting about Israel the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide.
So many stupid things have been written about Israel, that there aren’t any accusations left to level against her. At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel; the indoctrination of children and the corruption of the Palestinians.
And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain.
What makes me so despondent about what has ensued over the past couple of days is not that Israel has been castigated so viciously. It’s almost as if that was expected. It is that we have let this negativity exhaust and consume us. To hell with the youtube evidence, to hell with the fact that five of the six ships were not harmed because Israeli soliders were not attacked. Forget about the widespread media support of the “humanitarian action” of “peace activists” to support an organisation that cheered the September 11 attacks on the United States (and allegedly the Flotilla contained activists from terrorist organisations).
That our Government leapt to condemn Israel for protecting the lives of its soldiers under attack is a disgrace. Our media have once again shown their true colours. I heard Howard Sattler from 6PR on the radio and I have never been so disgusted to hear such unreasoned facilitation of discussion in my life. Whether it is the Government or the media, the combination of their arrogance and ignorance is leading Australia down a very dangerous path.
I have not forgotten the day that Israel withdrew from Gaza. Within hours holy sites were burned and raised. Jewish philanthropists had donated millions to purchase agricultural businesses and greenhouses that were gifted to the Gazan’s to offer economic hope. They too were destroyed before nightfall on the day that Israel withdrew. Billions of dollars of aid has since been given to Gaza, and in-kind humanitarian assistance has been consistently extended by countries including Israel. This aid has been witheld from its humanitarian purpose, and funds have been corrupted. All the while, thousands of missiles have been fired into Israel, designed to harm and kill in an indiscriminate manner. Yet Israel is described as the “terrorist nation” and Hamas is not held accountable by anyone.
Jewish tradition does not waver from its humanitarian values, and the Jewish nation has memory as one of its greatest gifts. Our way of being teaches that our character is measured not so much by what happens to us (which we often can’t control) but by how we react to what happens to us (which is well within our control).
My suggestion to the Jewish community and to Israel, is to not waiver from what the right course of action should be. We desire peace and we should continue to seek peace. However when we are attacked and the lives of our people are put at risk, we should defend our people, solider and civilian. If that means taking the life of another before we sacrifice the life of our own then with great sorrow and regret, we have the duty to protect our lives. The first thing that Israel did was to express exactly this – regret and sorrow that lives were lost. The first thing that Hamas do when they kill Jews (or Americans) is hand out candy, celebrate, and call for more murder.
After 2000 years of exile the world may have been conditioned to understand the Jew as a defenceless and subjugated second class citizen. Since 1948 a new reality has been created. The nation of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. It is the only Jewish country in a world of hundreds of countries of many ethnic and religious orientations. It has a proud set of values and a miraculous story of survival against the odds. It has every right to defend its people, and to react to invasions of its sovereignty by the supporters of its enemies. Israel faces an existential threat. Kevin Rudd and Barak Obama may not realise that radical Islam (an ideology to which Hamas constitutes itself) is at war with our way of life and our liberal democratic freedom. However most Israelis understand what motivates this regime, and defend themselves from this warfare at the front line on a daily basis.
The truth always will ultimately prevail. The obfuscation of the truth will cause more harm until such time as the truth is seen, then heard, then understood. Our response should be understanding that we are judged on how we react. We all have the benefit of hindsight. We don’t have the benefit of foresight.
There will be more chatter. Such is the way of the environment in which we now live and the instant nature of the way we now communicate. The negativity of defending unjust accusations full of invective and hate must be replaced with the positivity of our tradition that understands the true nature of peace (a process that requires two parties to honour and respect each other). The lies of our enemies must be replaced with the truth of our convictions and values. The hatred of Israel (aka anti-Semitism) must be replaced with our love of Israel (aka Semitsim).
Israel’s situation is in fact very defensible. Israel didn’t seek this provocation, and Israel responded as every nation should. When knives, bars and weapons are thrust against you, and it is a choice between having to kill or being killed, you have the right to protect your life. For that I am not sorry, and for that I commend Israel for putting the lives of its soldiers ahead of the lives of terrorists and their sympathisers.