Yesterday, the state of Israel fired retaliation shots towards Gaza, including a strike that killed Hamas mastermind Ahmed Jabari. Even without checking the news, it would have been impossible to remain oblivious to this escalating situation.
By going on Facebook, I was able to see there was a conflict as well as notice dozens of affirmations of individuals’ steadfast support for Israel. This sentiment was encouraging, as I had never seen such a collective, communal display of solidarity in “standing with Israel” in recent times.
As it appears that this newest conflict with Gaza will worsen, I can’t help but think about what this “support” really means. Showing devotion on a social network is commendable, but to assert one’s support and then not follow through on this declaration is a failure to fulfill the immense potential we each have as young advocates for Israel. I fear that just like many other Facebook fads, Kony for example, this outspoken, active support for Israel will dwindle if a conflict continues. This is not to say that remaining silent is a problem, but if one is sincere and authentic in their love for the state of Israel, then it is imperative that we vigorously defend her through action and discourse.
As always when discussing Israel and the Middle East, being educated and armed with real facts is crucial. To that end, Hamas was the aggressor in this conflict as they have launched 6,464 rockets and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis in the past three years. Two different attacks in the past few days have served as catalysts for Israel’s retaliation. There was an explosion in a tunnel along the Israeli border and also a missile attack on an Israeli military jeep that seriously wounded four soldiers.
Moreover, an American State Department statement released yesterday has affirmed Israel’s right to self-defense. Israel has now launched close to 20 airstrikes and plans to expand their operation. The Hamas official they killed, Jabari, was responsible for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in 2006.
These are the facts, and it is important to know them because the media tends to portray Israel unfavorably. To counteract the constant perpetuation of falsehoods, one must remain vigilant and informed on all things Israel. The media bias towards Israel is strong, but in times of crisis, tensions run high and facts are twisted to an even greater extent.
I certainly hope Israel will end “Operation Pillar of Defense” swiftly, but it often feels like we are on the brink of war. The Muslim Brotherhood is in Egypt, and President Muhammad Morsi has indicated his sympathies for Hamas. In addition there is uncertainty in Syria, as rebels now control villages near Golan Heights. These new factors coupled with the general antipathy and enmity towards Israel in the Middle East place Israel in a tenuous position.
Though Israel has the military might to handle Hamas, as they have in the past, it does not thwart threats from some of the newly formed governments as a result of the Arab Spring. Already, President Morsi has made threats to Israel if they do not cease-fire.
This is where our education and understanding of all the facts can play a pivotal role.
While notions and information dissemination about Israel is often generational within the homes of our foes, advocating for Israel is not a lost cause. By informing even one American of the real facts and maybe swaying their opinion, we can do a tremendous service to Israel. Each friend counts. Writing letters to elected officials, opening up lines of dialogue, and raising and donating money are all ways to support Israel. These efforts extend beyond the boundaries of social networks, and they are courses of action that I feel have the greatest efficacy in fighting for Israel’s safety.
It isn’t just in times of chaos that Israel needs support, but certainly in these tumultuous times the need is even greater. In order to truly “stand with Israel”, we must continue to act as ardent, dedicated supporters of the Jewish homeland. At the dawn of a new conflict, stand proud not just through statements posted on the Internet, but by dedicated and purposeful actions to ensure the safety and vitality of the state of Israel and each and every Israeli citizen.
עם ישראל חי
Featured Image courtesy of the IDF