David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

Streams of Anxious Consciousness VIII

It only took eight days for the keyboard commandos to come forward in full force, hiding under the shelter of a screen and a camouflaged name, and begin the process of infiltrating social feeds and making up facts, figures and denying truths.

I vacillate between wanting to singlehandedly take them all on, one refuting text at a time, or ignoring their hatred and staying focused on the task at hand. I think that is also my macro emotions. Sometimes, I want to address those solely focused on the plight of Palestinians or their masquerading anti-Semitism, and other times I realize no matter how hard I swat, deny, refute, push back or whack the mole, they will keep popping up. That is true for after this conflict as well.

For some naive reason, I think if I could just get through the thick-headed folk, they would hear reason and sensibly support the good fight. They would then cross over to the winning team, they would fall in line and the whole world could sing Kumbaya.

Good news/bad news on that: The good news is that the majority of America thinks Israel is right and justified in its response. Overwhelmingly. We are not alone, and we should carry forward, as we will. The bad news, the haters will always be present, and they will always be loud. I suspect they will get louder.

I do seriously worry about the information war that has begun. Or shall I say, misinformation war. In the last 48 hours I have been told by nameless and cowardly anti-Israel supporters and read on the news from Hamas leadership hiding in Qatar that:

• Hamas did not kill any babies [FALSE]
• Hamas only targeted IDF soldiers [FALSE]
• Hamas does not have any hostages [FALSE]
• Israel bombed the safe passage route it instructed Gazans to flee on [DEBUNKED]
• Israel provoked this conflict [FALSE]
• Ukraine provided weapons to Hamas [DEBUNKED]
• Israel is using chemical warfare, including white phosphorous in its warfare [FALSE]
• Israel has not allowed water or electricity in Gaza for 18 years [FALSE]
• The Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrios was destroyed during Israel’s bombing of Gaza. [FALSE]
The list goes on.

Some of these lies are shared by uninformed typewriter terrorists who sit at their computers and imbibe falsehoods and then spew them back out, or just make them up and puke them to the internet. Other liars represent Hamas and live in a world of convenient lies and hide from painful truths.

Since November of 2020, I have regularly preached and written on the grave dangers of creating a post-truth world. I contend that western civilization cannot function in a world that is devoid of truths or markets ‘alternative facts.’ Honesty is like oxygen. Take it away and eventually, we will be unable to breath.

The most dangerous part of lying and falsehoods peddled as the truth, is that when we enable and allow it and traffic it, it gives license to any other lie, fabrication or untruth another utilizes.

Much like the hymnal I suggested we all sing from in addressing the justification of Israel’s response, so too must we all be armed with facts. We need to throw truth bombs at the vicious keyboard commandos and typewriter terrorists.

Here are a few. Feel free to add to the list:

• Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and was born around 1987 during the first Intifada.
• Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Not a single Jew has lived in Gaza since that time.
• Hamas charter calls for the murder of every Jew world wise, and the eradication of the State of Israel.
• Hamas (as well as Hizballah) are deemed terrorist organizations by The United States, The European Union, The United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Japan as well many members of the United Nations.
• Hamas has never endorsed a two-state solution with Israel.
• Hamas leadership has declared that Iran has funded their terror for more than a 18 years in Gaza.
• Gaza was afforded the opportunity for self-rule and governance in 2005. 16 months later, Hamas took over by a coup d’état, of sorts and has ruled ruthlessly since.
• Despite a “blockade” Hamas was able to amass and launch more than 25,000 rockets in 18 years. They have built elaborate terror tunnels. They smuggled in hundreds of RPGs and thousands of machine guns, tons of explosives and used sophisticated reconnaissance to seek out where children play in Israel.
• In that same time the schools, hospitals and infrastructure have suffered by stagnancy because Hamas used their resources and energies for terror.
• Hamas and Palestinian leadership including Khaled Meshaal, the estate of Ya’asir Arafat, and Mahmoud Abbas are sitting on Billions of dollars that were embezzled from taxpayers across the world who sent in foreign aid to the Palestinians. Some estimates have Meshaal’s (head of Hamas) wealth at near $3B dollars. United Nations financial support has been absconded, to use for weaponry and not nation building. This is fraud and theft that has added to the suffering of the Palestinian people. It needs to be addressed in the world bank and sanctions need to be established and tightened.

I have always underscored the value of truth and aimed to be honest, even when it hurts. This is not a time to traffic and trade in untruths. Frankly, I can think of no time when telling lies should be the standard. Honesty will matter now more than ever, as will the integrity and honesty of those sharing the information.

Rant warning!
I swear if I hear the word “proportionality” again, I am going to lose my s**t!

The best answers to this term were provided from a well circulated meme and an even better circulated video of British journalist that touch on the same response. Both were along the lines of, Israel does not and will not rape women, murder babies and kidnap the elderly and infirm. There is no notion of proportionality against barbarism.

As of writing this Stream (VIII), Israel has yet to send in the ground forces waiting anxiously on its border. The reason given by the IDF and President Herzog as to the pause, is Israel is waiting for more Gazans to evacuate to the South. They are giving ample warning and have extended their timetable by 48 hours, so far, for citizens to evacuate.

Did Hamas give us any warning to vacate? Were we offered an evacuation route? Did we get sufficient time to reach a safe space? That would seem “proportional.”

This notion of “proportionality” is ridiculous. It needs to stop being tossed around so loosely and recklessly.

Armchair generals have the life! They can sip on a beer and tell the world how to win wars and fight media and rebuild nations. If only it were that easy.

We are facing an enemy that aspires to die. “The Israelis are known to love life. We, on the other hand, sacrifice ourselves. We consider our dead to be martyrs. The thing any Palestinian desires the most is to be martyred for the sake of Allah, defending his land.” Hamas spokesman Ali Baraka was quoted as saying in the WSJ. How does one win such a conflict against such a people?

The enemy wins if they kill Jewish people. They win when they die trying to kill Jews. Either way, Jews are killed or killers, which is a lose/lose for the good guys and a win/win for the bad guys.

The complexity of this incursion, coupled with the obvious challenges on the ground in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the wounded morale and spirit of the Israeli people is not simple to navigate.

Israel is facing a multi front war. Hizballah, also controlled and financed by Iran, has more than 120K rockets that are much more precise and sophisticated than Hamas. They are staging acts of aggression with Israel this week. A two front war will be harder for Israel to fight, win and recover from. Hizballah is keeping their finger on the trigger to deter Israel from total annihilation of Hamas, which protects the Iranian investment, and which would leave Hizballah as the most feared and more closely watched target of terror, afterwards.

None should be envious of the position of the IDF leadership or the Israel government. There are many difficult choices ahead that address life, death, and impossible split-second decisions.

When a Hamas terrorist is holding a baby and shooting at you, does an IDF soldier shoot back? What if the Hamas terrorist is holding an Israeli hostage? What if they are firing rockets at a town and taking out the rockets would endanger the hostages.

These scenarios are not farfetched and far from simple. The intricacy and complexity of the days and weeks ahead will be painstaking for any moral soul. Sadly, there is only one side with a moral soul that is engaged in this war. Let’s pause before we become armchair generals in this conflict.

Please stay strong and healthy. Eat. Sleep. Hug those who need it.

God, bless our country and its people today and forever.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJR). He is the author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness, featured in The NY Times Book Review (Feb '24) and has over 11,000 copies in circulation in its first three months since publication. He has spoken on his book and topics connected to Judaism and Zionism across the world.
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