APRIL 26, 2018 – On Wednesday, April 11, I attended the Our Soldiers Speak program: “Securing Our Skies In Today’s Middle East: Israel’s Race Against Time” at the JCC in Marblehead. The event was well-attended and was sponsored through the generosity of Karen and David Rosenberg.
The evening began with a short video showing how Israel is depicted by many groups on college campuses. It was produced by Our Soldiers Speak, and featured Israeli Sergeant Benjamin Anthony (Res.), the organization’s founder. Our Soldiers Speak is a nonprofit NGO that provides briefings and analyses on the realities and challenges faced by the Israel Defense Forces in asymmetrical combat situations. Asymmetrical combat situations are where a standing army battles an insurgency that uses surprise attacks and nonconventional warfare methods.
Brigadier General Zvika Haimovich, Commander of the Israel Air Defense Force, headlined the program. He spoke with us about the challenges the IDF faces daily. He also conveyed the strength and determination of the Israeli people.
I took away three key points regarding the threats to Israel.
First – Iran is the major threat to Israel. Iran constitutes a grave threat to Israel, the Middle East, and the rest of the world. Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism through its support and control of numerous terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran’s bloc includes Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and increasingly, Iraq.
The nuclear deal that President Obama made with Iran has not slowed its progress in any meaningful way. In fact, it has emboldened Iran with billions of dollars to intensify its menacing influence in the region, and increased the existential threat to Israel. Israel is fighting this threat on many fronts every hour of every day, often with only seconds to react. The February incursion into Israeli airspace by a weaponized Iranian drone coming from Syria is a good example of an asymmetrical combat situation. The drone was shot down by an Israeli attack helicopter.
Second – Anti-Israel propaganda is a growing threat on college campuses. The video presentation and follow-up comments by Sergeant Anthony revealed this threat, which comes partly from within the Jewish community. Groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace are anything but a voice for peace. They, and others, are American allies of Hamas and need to be called out as such.
These groups spread demonstrable lies to America’s youth with the goal of destroying Israel. The Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement is an outgrowth of this. Until recently, these groups have gone mostly unchallenged. Today, this threat is being confronted head on by Our Soldiers Speak. Sergeant Anthony has lectured students at many American colleges and universities, including every Ivy League school. His organization is worthy of our support (oursoldiersspeak.org).
Third – The people of Israel are strong. They are fighters who will never stop fighting for their homeland. Israelis have a love of life while her enemies have a love of death. Israel delivers truckloads of aid per day to the Palestinians in Gaza, who in turn use much of that aid against Israel. This includes building tunnels into Israel designed to sneak in and kill innocent Jews. Just a few days ago, the IDF discovered and destroyed the “deepest and longest” tunnel from Gaza. The enemy will continue to hide behind women and children; Israel will continue to fight them while doing better than any country in history to avoid the loss of innocent lives.
I do not see peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs as a realistic possibility anytime soon. Peace cannot be achieved while only one side desires it. The Palestinian Arab leadership won’t acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and calls for its annihilation. The Palestinian Arabs claim to the world in English that they want peace while saying the opposite in Arabic to their people and the wider Arabic world. They teach their children that there is glory in killing Jews and reward families with money and honor when they try.
They are a group of people led by a terrorist organization that enriches itself with the world’s aid while impoverishing its people. Today, as Israel celebrates her 70th anniversary, I am hopeful that Our Soldiers Speak will be successful in changing the dialogue and unimpeded indoctrination of our youth. We must remain united in truth; then perhaps the cycle of violence will someday end once and for all.
Someone once told me that Jews support many philanthropic causes but only Jews support Jewish philanthropic causes. I believe it is incumbent upon American Jews today to take that message to heart and to do all we can to support our brothers and sisters in Israel in their quest to live in peace in the Jewish homeland.
Mark B. Cohen writes from Marblehead.