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Scott Cushing
Former Newspaper Publisher and Editorial Writer

The Battle for Israel, Jews and Truth

Ambassador Gilad Erdan speaks during a press briefing before a National Security meeting at the United Nations. (photo courtesy of Israel Mission)

Terrorism has many theatres of operation. The first is the emotional one. It takes people’s lives through murder. The second is played out in the tug and pull of what some call diplomacy.

The rules of engagement in the diplomatic arena must change. The reason is simple, we are losing. The fight needs to be taken to new fronts where we harness the positive energy of technology and the internet. That is where Jews, as well as supporters of Israel, must join the battle.

Diplomacy has been long touted as the space where people can mediate and work towards the betterment of all people. It was to be the home of intellectual discourse based upon facts, truth and understanding. The reality is very different. Many believe the present-day United Nations has developed into off-Broadway theatre where rogue nations with laughable human rights records are given credibility. Governments, led by dictators and fanatics, are legitimized and given the bully pulpit to promote agendas and policy that lead to tyranny.

For Israel, the United Nations is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the historic vote gave international recognition as a member state in 1949. On the other, it has become a platform where Jew hatred and antizionist rhetoric have a safe space.

That is why Israel’s representative to the United Nations must exude strength, purpose, intelligence and integrity.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan is the current occupant of the post and a leader that has demonstrated former president Ronald Reagan’s axiom of “peace through strength.” In his speeches, press conferences and outreach, he has shown clearly that Israel will not back down to terror and sponsors of terrorism. His strengths were recently put to the test in a press conference before a UN Security Council meeting regarding rocket attacks by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Ambassador Erdan’s mastery of the situation and ability to communicate effectively during the press conference put Israel on the moral high ground. His powerful and compelling oration cornered many nations into silence or acknowledgement and tacit approval of Israel’s actions.

During the press briefing, he was relentless in shining the light of truth in the face of lies perpetuated by supporters of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He noted that PIJ used Gazans as human shields as they launched rockets from homes, schools and civilian areas. The statistics were sobering in that a total of 1,100 rockets were launched at Israel during the attack. Further, over 200 of the rockets misfired and landed in Gaza. Sadly, in one incident, innocent Palestinian children died as a result of a misfired rocket. The video of the misfiring was played for the press in a very dramatic moment during the briefing. The inconvenient truth Erdan displayed made some diplomats and terror sympathizer’s squirm.

While Israel was successful in clearly establishing a factual narrative of the recent rocket attacks, daily attempts to fight the delegitimization Israel and the Jewish people have become more of a challenge. No matter how right Israel’s voice is on the world stage when it comes to terror and hatred, it gets lost in the attack of coordinated, well-funded forces on social media outlets whose sole objective and purpose is the dismantling and destruction of the Jewish state.

Ambassador Erdan needs help from the Jewish community and supporters of Israel. The fight in the United Nations is shadow boxing and has no impact on the views of the public at large. The real fight takes place daily on the screens of cell phones, websites, television sets, newspapers, college campuses and community spaces.

That brings us to the root of the problem we face today. Israel cannot get a fair trial in the court of public opinion if we continue to ignore the public relations and education problem. Natural supporters of Israel and Jews have been largely ineffective in debunking the blatant lies of antisemites, anti-Zionists and organizations funded by Jew hatred. The reason? They either do not have the tools or are ineffective in accessing information to respond in real-time to well-orchestrated attacks. The motivation to stand up and be counted in the fight is also sadly lacking.

As a starting point, one old argument must by retired immediately. The worn-out mantra that people should simply stand by Israel as it is a democracy needs to end. Unfortunately, it is irrelevant to today’s masses. The extremes of the political spectrum are not moved. The middle ground may listen to the commentary, but more information is needed. Persuadable people should be the focus of efforts.

Now, let’s say some things that are tough to express out loud in this battle. From the start, Jews are put in the position of “being wrong” no matter what the issue is. Second, the facts revolving around Jewish history and the founding of Israel are not “accepted” in supposed woke discourse. Third, acts of terrorism, rockets, murder, kidnapping, bombs and war are dismissed as irrelevant when the victim is Israel. Fourth, Jews who are observant are the prime target of Jew hatred. Fifth, the social and political freedoms embraced by Israeli citizens who are Christian, Muslim and Jewish are sneered at by Jew hating social media warriors and groups.

Those five issues should be the start of the “fight back” now.

The approach to engaging and debunking the lies surrounding Israel and the promotion of antizionism and Jew hatred must be centered in a plan that targets the “enemy” head-on. Israelis have compulsory military service to the nation. Jewish families must start to have their own compulsory service of aggressive and engaging discussions in the home about combating Jew hatred, antizionism and defending Israel.

But that should just be a beginning. A system of education, debate and defense for the preservation of the Jewish faith and Israel must be developed. The basic training model must be an operation in perpetual motion centered upon social media promotion, social action, individual empowerment and coalition building. It should evolve into a transformational effort where we are a truth squad in the face of hatred and lies.

The bottom line is that we have an inherent responsibility to work together and stand as a people and faith in the face of this very real threat.

Some will look the other way because it does not impact them in the here and now. Think again. Think about the Jewish children in bomb shelters during attacks. Think about the young IDF soldiers on the front lines being shot at by terrorists. Think about the innocent civilians out for dinner at a café who were gunned down. Think about the recent violent Jew hatred attacks in New York City. Think about the college students harassed for being Jewish in public universities. Think about the violence and harassment towards Jews you hear about. Now, try looking the other way.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan cannot do it alone at the United Nations. Shame on us if we don’t help him and join the fight.

About the Author
Michael "Scott" Cushing serves as Special Advisor to the Nassau County Executive on the Combating Antisemitism Task Force. He also serves on the Community Advisory Board of Northwell Long Island Jewish Hospital, Valley Stream, New York. Further, he is former Publisher and Editorial writer for the Gateway-Bulletin Newspapers. He served in senior staff positions for the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate for over twenty years. He is active in Israeli and Jewish affairs in Nassau County.
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