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Ignorance Marches On: Stop the War vs. Stop Israel

Hostage family members protest in Tel Aviv.  Photo: Nili Bresler
Hostage family members protest in Tel Aviv. Photo: Nili Bresler

Protesters in the USA and in Israel may shout similar slogans, but the difference is huge.

I admit it’s confusing. You see people on US campuses shouting “Stop the War! Free Palestine!”  You see Israelis in the streets shouting, “Stop the War! Bring them home!”. So what’s the difference? Well, friends, the difference is huge. Those shouting “Free Palestine!” are talking about the eradication of the State of Israel. Knowingly or not, they are advocating the State of Hamas. We Israelis who are shouting “Stop the War” do not support Hamas. We have no intention of leaving our country. We want our hostages back home and we want to be left to live here in peace.

Calling for ceasefire – hostage families’ protest in Tel Aviv. Photo: Nili Bresler

Full Disclosure: I am an Israeli. I am Jewish. I am a Zionist. I am pro-democracy. I am pro-peace. I live in Israel by choice and I intend to stay here. I do not intend to convert to Islam.

I march together with family members of Israeli hostages who’ve been held in Gaza for over 7 months now. We are calling for a ceasefire. Yes, we want to see Hamas gone. But first, we want the hostages back. This is our most urgent plea.

But on the other side of the ocean, there are people marching with Palestinian flags, shouting “I am Hamas”.  If anyone out there believes that the State of Hamas would be a utopia of harmony and social equality, they are seriously misinformed. The Hamas platform no more tolerates non-Muslims than it does non-heterosexuals.

Willful ignorance: 

The protesters in the USA shouting “I am Hamas” do not seem to know or care to know about the history of Israel and Palestine. They do not care about the truth: baseless claims on social media versus fact-checked information in the mainstream press. One US student said, “If I have to choose between TikTok and the New York Times, I’ll choose TikTok.”

In a recent interview, Hillary Clinton said, “I have had many conversations with a lot of young people over the last many months. They don’t know very much at all about the history of the Middle East or frankly about history in many areas of the world, including in our own country.”  [https://www.timesofisrael.com/hillary-clinton-anti-israel-protesters-dont-know-very-much-about-the-middle-east/]

Pro-Hamas demonstrators have fallen for the greenwashing of the terror organization, ignoring the fact that for the past 17 years, Hamas chose to invest its millions by tunneling beneath Gaza, rather than building above ground. In addition to the environmental damage caused by the tunnels, Hamas rockets have been catastrophic. “At least 10% to 20% of Hamas rockets aimed at civilian targets in Israel, land in Gaza because they don’t reach far enough to get to Israel.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/27/world/middleeast/israel-hamas-gaza-rockets.html).

Fake news, misinformation and disinformation

There are rampant claims that the Hamas attack of October 7th  was a justified act of resistance, not terrorism. Not so: Rape, mutilation, killing of innocent children, burning alive of families, and taking of civilian hostages are not legitimate acts of resistance. These are acts of terrorism. Posting videos and live feeds of kidnappings and murders of civilians on social media is not an act of resistance. It is terrorism.

It is true that there have been false claims coming from all sides. But the vast majority of false claims come from the Palestinian side. The most incredible claim is that the worst of the atrocities did not take place, that these are exaggerations invented by Israelis. This is disinformation[1].

Destroyed home of a kibbutz member murdered on Oct 7th. Photo: Nili Bresler

I have stood inside the ruins of houses on a kibbutz where innocent people were butchered.  Some were burned alive. Bodies were mutilated. Forensic evidence of these atrocities exists and is available for review. The atrocities were documented by Hamas terrorists themselves. Photos and videos of the horror were uploaded to social media by Hamas members on October 7th. The most damning of that evidence was quickly taken offline, as part of the propaganda spinning of the story. But it exists. It has been seen by journalists and world leaders, and its authenticity has been verified by intelligence agencies of several countries, including the USA. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

The brutal attacks of October 7th were carried out by thousands of Hamas terrorists along with mobs of Gazan civilians who swarmed over the border after them. Some, but not all, of the Hamas terrorists were high on the amphetamine Captagon which boosts stamina and removes inhibitions. Captagon may have been responsible for some of the brutality seen on October 7th. But the drug only enhanced the ferocity of the attack. No drug can be blamed for the longstanding and well-documented Hamas terror agenda.

Meanwhile, ignorance marches on…

In the past weeks, we’ve seen countless photos of white people wearing kaffiyehs and carrying signs that say Free Palestine. Excuse me? Perhaps you should be shouting, Free the USA.  Caucasians are not native to the Americas. White people from Europe colonized the Americas. Yet these white people are marching around campuses in the USA denouncing Israel as a colonizer.  If it weren’t tragic, I would find it hilarious.

Side note: I also find it ironic that the protesters in the US calling for divestment are using Israeli technology in their smartphones and laptops to do so.  Again, it would be hilarious were it not tragic.

Fact: the Hebrew people are indigenous to Israel. Both Jews and Arabs have shared this small slice of land for thousands of years. Yes, we are in a deep, generations-long conflict. Yes, it is violent and complicated. No, we Israelis are not colonizers.

Unlike non-indigenous Caucasians in the Americas, the Jewish people are native to Israel. We were exiled from Israel several times, first by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and then by the Romans in 70 CE. But the people of Israel have come back, again and again. There has been a continued Jewish presence in the land of Israel for thousands of years.

So when we Israelis shout, “Stop the War,” we are exercising our democratic right to protest, to save our country and its citizens. When pro-Hamas demonstrators shout “Stop the War” they are saying, “Stop Israel.” But we are here, in our land. And we will not be stopped.

[1] Misinformation is false or inaccurate information. Disinformation is false information which is deliberately intended to mislead—intentionally misstating the facts. [https://www.apa.org/topics/journalism-facts/misinformation-disinformation#]

About the Author
Nili Bresler is a member of Israel's pro-democracy movement. She is a business communications coach with experience in management at multinational technology companies. Prior to her career in high-tech, Nili was a news correspondent for the AP. Nili holds a degree in International Relations from NYU. Nili volunteers with the nonprofit, NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief. Nili made aliya in 1970 and lives in Ramat Gan.
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