Friday, March 7, 2008

Stay Active

It's been a rough week for Israel and the Jewish people.

At the beginning of the week, the Israeli Army commenced with "Operation Warm Winter," in which the Israeli Army engaged in fierce fighting with Arab combatants in Gaza in an attempt to stop the rockets being sent from Gaza into Israel. Further, yesterday a horrific act occurred in West Jerusalem: an Arab terrorist entered Yeshivat Merkaz Harav, a premier institution of Jewish learning associated with the Religious Zionist movement, and opened machine-gun fire on a bunch of students engaged in studying Jewish texts as they anticipated the beginning of the celebration for the arrival of the new month on the Jewish calendar. 8 were left dead, countless more wounded; of the dead, some even still clasped the text they had been studying as they lay sprawled and bloodied on the floor.

Of course, whenever the Israeli Army undertakes a large-scale military operation with the purpose of defending it's citizens, anti-Israel organizations nation-wide attempt to portray the IDF as a terrorist organization; at Berkeley, the "Students for Justice in Palestine" (SJP) staged a "die-in" on Sproul Plaza to protest Israel's military operation in Gaza, during which, they claimed, "hundreds of innocent civilians" had been willfully killed in a "holocaust."

Meanwhile, on the internet, a UC Berkeley blogger named Yaman Salahi identifying with SJP employed a barrage of logical and factual casuistry to declaim Tikvah for speaking the truth about what is happening in the Middle East. Instead of fighting for the truth so as to be able to target those aspects of the region that need to be remedied in order to bring about peace and security, Salahi urges us to

stop, think, and take a look at what is going on. The real conflict is not a competition about whose deaths are more valuable or less justified. To stop the violence, step back from it. Recognize the legitimate grievances of all people in Israel and Palestine.

Independent of his dishonest rhetorical construction (the issue brought up by supporters of Israel was never "whose deaths are more valuable or less justified," but rather that Israel's targeting of armed combatants in a war situation so as to protect innocent civilians from death is justified, while the INTENTIONAL TARGETING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS, as perpetrated by Arab terror organizations, is never justified), Salahi seeks to quell all rigorous discussion concerning who is morally in the right. It does not matter, he claims, who is right; one must simply pretend that Hamas' targeting of innocents out of hatred and Israel's targeting of armed combatants out of a need to save innocent lives are morally equivalent.

However, anyone with a genuine sympathy for one's fellow human beings cannot honestly "step back" with moral detachment and treat the ruthless murdering of innocents, such as was perpetrated yesterday in Israel as equivalent to Israel's military operation in Gaza. Neither does SJP really believe in the sort of moral equivocation proposed by Salahi; it actually believes that Israel is in the right. Otherwise it would not feel the need to lie that Israel was engaging in a "holocaust" and could simply state the truth: that Israel undertook a military operation to protect its citizens. The clear fact, then, shines through that SJP and its affiliates hate not merely Israel's policies, but its very essence, and are thus taking a PROACTIVE approach (i.e. they're not passively "stepping back" to reflect upon the "legitimate grievances" of both parties) in making Israel look as bad as possible, without a care as to the truth of their claims. Thus Salahi's exhortation to "step back" is in reality a call for Jews to stop fighting injustice, to watch on the sidelines as the SJP and other Israel-haters destroy Israel.

While SJP is taking a proactive approach in disseminating lies and hatred, Tikvah cares about improving the world, and thus stands up for the truth. Members of Tikvah were present at the "die-in" protesting the propaganda, and although several members of Tikvah encountered harassment and hate-speech from SJP members, Tikvah was successful in indicating to passers-by that SJP's demonstration was predicated on deceit. In lieu of the tragedy that occurred yesterday in Israel, it becomes more important than ever to make a concerted effort to disseminate the truth: that the Arab educational system is racist and breeds hatred of and violence against Jews, that Arab leaders contribute to the continued squalid circumstances of Palestinians by withholding Western aid from them, that the Jewish people have a right to exist as a nation in their spiritual and historic homeland without the fear of an impending terrorist attack. Only by actively pursuing the truth can we isolate the sources of conflict and thus come up with effective solutions to the conflict. May we merit following the words of the Torah: TSEDEK, TSEDEK TIRDOF-- justice, justice, you shall pursue.

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