Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

My Response to a Confused American Jew. Yes, Anti-Zionism is Antisemitism!

Last week I saw on my Facebook feed a response to the terror war being waged on the Jewish state by a former participant of one of my Taglit-Birthright trips (who we will call “S”). While we are all entitled to our own opinions, I felt that a red line (in both false accusations and self-hatred) had been crossed and felt the urge to respond:
My response to S:
-I’m a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and Zionists. I’ve travelled to Israel. I’ve studied the history of Jews (and Israel) extensively
Apparently, as displayed by your bizarre sentiments, you need to study it more. I literally have a PhD in it and I still have a lot to learn.
– and still, I cannot figure out the disconnect between a major tenant of Judaism -Tikkun Olam- and the war crimes happening in Gaza right now.
Yes Jews value life. You want to talk about war crimes, let’s do it!
War Crimes:
Israel has not started any of the Middle Eastern wars, including the current conflict. If ever there is a purely defensive war, this is it. The missile attacks were started by the Iranian-backed Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both US State Department designated terror organizations, who run the Gaza Strip. Hamas commit war crimes as official government policy. These include:
• Targeting an international civilian airport.
• Tunneling into a foreign country’s territory in order to attempt to attack civilians (and plan to kidnap them).
• Using protected sites, such as schools, hospitals or mosques, to store munitions or attack from.
• Breaching internationally agreed ceasefires.
• Using child soldiers.
• Using civilian shields.
• Firing non-guided rockets at civilian populations.
The IDF doesn’t just have the right but the obligation to protect the citizens of Israel, as that is its reason d’etre. The lines get blurred when the munitions and terrorists are embedded in a civilian population. Nevertheless, the IDF has to make decisions, and are indeed obligated and entitled to protect the citizens of Israel. Despite all of Israel attempts to minimize civilian casualties, more than any other military on the globe, mistakes do happen. But mistakes are not war crimes.
The major test as to whether one can hit a military target is whether there are civilians around it. However, just because there are civilians around it, it doesn’t mean that one cannot attack it according to the Geneva Convention and international military law.
As Colonel Richard Kemp stated:
“Legally, if the IDF believed a school was being used to store munitions or as a sniper point. Then that school or mosque ceases to have its protection under the Geneva Convention and is a legal lawful target.”
In other words, According to the laws of armed conflict, a civilian object (including a dwelling place) will lose its immunity if it is used for military purposes. Military attacks should always distinguish between combatants and civilians, and between military targets and civilian objects. It is absolutely prohibited to deliberately target civilians or civilian objects, as does the Iranian-backed terror regime in the Gaza Strip.
– All I can say is that I deeply condemn what is happening,
Lucky Israel is a Democracy, you don’t like it? Come live here and vote for someone else.
I’m sure you didn’t like Trump either, but he was the President for four years until he was voted out of office by people who opposed him. If you don’t like Bibi (like quite a few Israelis) come live here and vote against him. Just like the USA , Israel is also divided down the middle.
– I have long ago withdrawn any financial support my own family has given to Israel
It’s OK, we’ll survive without it.
– and I will continue to speak out in opposition to Netanyahu and his murderous regime.
Careful with your choice of words S. “Murderous regime” would be an accurate description of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS or Hezbollah, not the democratically elected government of the only liberal democracy in the Middle East whose army has, in the words of UK Colonel Richard Kemp, (Not Israeli or Jewish) former commander of the UK forces in Afghanistan:
“The Israeli army have taken greater steps than any other army in the history of warfare to minimize the harm to innocent civilians in a combat zone.”
An army is not required to warn an enemy, yet the IDF does exactly that. In-fact they go much further:
• Dropping thousands of leaflets
• Broadcasting radio messages
• Sending SMS texts
• Making thousands of phone calls
• Using harmless, IDF developed, warning “roof knocking” munitions.
Never in the history of warfare has an enemy been warned by so many means and told exactly where the bombs are going to be dropped, and thus both have the opportunity to evacuate non-combatants and loose the element of surprise, increasing the risk to Israeli citizens and soldiers . In fact, the IDF has aborted many missions that could have taken out Hamas and Islamic jihad military capabilities to prevent civilian casualties.
– PS. For my fellow Jews: condemning the murder of civilians BY Israelis IS NOT ANTI-SEMITISM.
Really S. Your fellow Jews lost 1/3 of our nation just over 70 years ago because they were murdered by the antisemitic Nazis and their helpers and they had nowhere to call home and no one to protect them. Your Grandfather wouldn’t have had to go through the Holocaust if Israel had been created in 1938 and not 1948. The only thing standing between our enemies threatening to annihilate us and a second Holocaust is that very state and its moral Defense Force.
95% of Palestinians are ruled directly by the Terrorist Hamas or dictatorial PA. Those leaders are the ones who need to be replaced to “give peace a chance “and to give Palestinians better lives. ISRAEL HAS SHOWN TIME AND TIME AGAIN THAT IT WANTS NOTHING MORE THAN PEACE. We have peace with six Arab nations, which included Israel ceding land.
We have offered the Palestinians a two-state solution countless times. It is always rejected for the same reason (see the Hamas charter for clarification) because they want a one-state solution. Only Palestinian Arabs and all the Palestinian Jews dead or not there.
Finally, I think you are getting a bit confused about his current terror war.
This is a war between brutal terror organizations who intentionally put their own civilians in harm’s way, exploit them for their terrorist missions and deliberately target innocent non-combatant Israeli civilians to MURDER them, and a state army that abides by international laws, regulations and standards. Always on the front of my mind during my service, as it is with IDF high command, was not harming innocent civilians. The reality of the IDF is the mirror opposite of the image that is projected by many in the mass media. No other army takes such risks to protect civilians as the Israeli army does. The culture of Judaism underlines the laws of morality and the sanctity of life. At the end of the day, the truth is simple, the IDF use weapons to defend civilians. Hamas use civilians to defend weapons.
S, when you were on our Birthright trip in Israel, you saw with your own eyes Yad Vashem, the price we paid for not having a state. You also saw Mt. Herzl and saw the price we pay to have that state, and met the IDF soldiers in our group. (Were they blood-thirsty savages?) You also saw with your own eyes that the 20% of non-Jews in the only Jewish majority state in the world have full rights and representation. You saw that the Israelis you met want life, not death. They don’t want their children to go to the army.
But the big difference now is that we can defend ourselves and Jews everywhere against the oldest hatred in the world. We have enough external enemies. We don’t need enemies from within. We Jews have learned in our long history that, “united we stand and divided we fall.” We can agree to disagree, but one thing all Jews agree on is that we are family who respect the sanctity of life.
When the Holocaust historian, and world expert in antisemitism, Deborah Lipstadt was asked at a lecture what is the greatest threat to the Jews? She answered, the (ignorant) Jews themselves.
About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He was a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is a research associate at the Hudson Institute. Tuvia is the author and illustrator the internationally acclaimed Israel education curriculum; "For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Studies" (Fifth edition, Koren 2017), and "Moral Dilemmas of the Modern Israeli Soldier" (Rama, 2011) and has a doctorate in Israel Education. His latest book, "Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt – 536 BCE-136 CE," was published by Koren this year. To order:
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