To my Facebook friends, I apologize

If you knew me before the latest war between Israel and Hamas you would know, I was a good Facebook friend, sitting politely and quietly in a corner of your social media cerebral cortex, generally speaking only when spoken to, or when something more interesting or important than what I had for breakfast crossed my mind.  I kept to myself how tasty that hamburger was.  Skateboarding South American monkeys sent my way, stayed on my monitor.  I grumbled, as I am sure many of you have, when one of us just could not help posting one mundane thing after another, cluttering the wall, making it a pain to find what would really be of some significance.  Sure, once in a while I would express pride in my hometown Orioles or Ravens, but for the most part I was a status-hibernating, share-dormant, partner of yours.

These last few weeks, however, I have at times inundated you with posts and shares about Israel’s latest war with Hamas.  Day after day, as the conflict went on.  And I apologize to you, my Facebook friends, you who run the gamut, from “You are preaching to the Choir,” to “Wow, I didn’t know that,” to “Typical Shia,” to “I didn’t know he thought like that,” to “But what about the people in Gaza?” to “I really don’t care,” to “Let ‘em kill each other, now get me a beer.”

I must admit, I am ashamed to say, I had second thoughts.  I was worried about what some of you might think.  No, not those of you who already knew my views, whether in agreement or not, but those of you who may not have been aware, who I may need one day for one reason or another, and who may have wondered or winced as my thoughts were laid bare.  But I should not have hesitated even for a moment.  It is not just because I worry day and night for those I hold dear who race to bomb shelters, or are wearing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uniform and hunting down terrorists.  It is because, although it should not matter what people think when it comes to an existential threat to Israel, the war of public opinion is important.

With so much anti-Israel and yes, anti-Jewish, media out there, with so many Jew-haters taking to the airwaves, and to the streets, at times violently, and with unfortunately so many timid Jews staying silent, I along with others had to speak up.  People are being brutally murdered, hundreds of thousands of them all around the world, all the time, many of them Muslim in fact, by Muslim dictators and terrorist states and groups.  And heaven-forbid a tiny Jewish nation dares to fight back, and the world goes nuts.  “It’s genocide!”  Really?  If Israel wanted to, it could have flattened Gaza in less than an hour and killed everyone there.  “Gaza is occupied and needs to be free!”  True.  Gaza is occupied, by Hamas terrorists who enslave their own people.

Here is the history, and it’s not that complicated.  To try and make peace, and with much consternation, Israel pulled out of Gaza, every soldier, every Jew, in 2005.  Thriving multimillion dollar businesses in open land on the Gaza Strip, businesses purchased by philanthropic Jews to give away to Gaza, were left for the Palestinians there to take over and work.  Millions and millions of dollars in aid from all over the world flooded into Gaza so it could jumpstart its economy and make life better for its people.  There was no occupation, no embargo, no blockade, no incursions into Gaza from Israel.  What happened?  The businesses were destroyed and the money was pocketed by corrupt terrorist overlords.  The Palestinians elected Hamas as their leader, and being it is sworn to destroy Israel and kill Jews – this is in the official charter, rockets and missiles and terrorism began nearly immediately after Israel’s withdrawal.  And it hasn’t stopped.

You keep hearing from Israel supporters, “What would you do?”  Well, just think about it.  What would you do if someone across the street from you, holding a baby, who wants to kill you just because of your religion, no matter where you are, was shooting at your children?  Well, what would you do?  For those of you who do not know, my parents were Holocaust survivors.  My mother was in Auschwitz and my father, after escaping from a forced labor camp, was a partisan fighter against the Nazis.  Both of my parents lost nearly everyone in their families, gassed to death and then burned to ashes in concentration camps.  When it comes to the Jewish people, children of holocaust survivors or not, we know about actual genocide and ALL of us are survivors.  Through centuries of hatred, the crusades and pogroms, inquisitions, expulsions, forced conversions and sanctioned, organized murder.  I could go on and on and on.  You would do what Israel is doing, and you know it.  And you would call the shooters terrorists and not freedom fighters or militants.  (I so hate that word, militants.  The media just can’t tell it like it is.  Those who perpetrated 9/11 can be called terrorists.  Those from the same ideology and radical family cannot, if they murder Israelis.)

But some of you ask, “Does that justify killing innocent civilians?”  You know what?  As brutal as it sounds, yes.  Innocent civilians dying is a horrible thing.  But the fault lies not with Israel whose soldiers hate doing what they have to, but with the terrorists who value death over life, and who instruct, even demand, Palestinian children from an early age do the same.  Even today, as nutty as it sounds, Hamas, as well as other Jew-haters, unabashedly repeat the old Blood Libel, that Jews killed Christian children to get their blood to bake into Passover Matzohs!  Again, dealing with crazies like that who are trying to murder your child, what would you do?  The choices are bad, but you would be forced to choose, and you would choose the one that saved your family.  And, as Israel does, you would call it self-defense.

“You think that Israel is always right.”  No, my friends, I don’t, but there has been a war going on and war sucks and isn’t perfect.  Israel puts its own soldiers at risk to limit Gazan casualties, but as hard as it tries, things don’t always go as planned.  And the enemy and its supporters are only too willing to exploit and misrepresent the tragic loss of life, to make you feel bad, to tear at your heartstrings.  Please understand this; Israel would hold its soldiers to the highest standards even if the international media, the United Nations and the world weren’t so obsessed with it.  And to those of you, and to others, especially those in the public arena who are prominent and pampered, who think you know enough to criticize and condemn Israel, I ask, if you had the choice, under whose government would you rather live, Israel’s or Hamas?  Try protesting, even for a minute in Gaza against Hamas brutality and corruption, against anything in fact.  Try even just writing a letter to complain.  You would not last the day.  No, Israel isn’t perfect, what democracy is?  But you would rather be there than anywhere else in the Middle East.  And you know it.

“But it is so lopsided.  So many Gazan deaths, so few Israeli deaths.”  Would you feel better if 1000 more Israelis had been killed?  How about 2000?  What number would make you feel more comfortable?  Jews do not go quietly to their deaths anymore and that confuses those who wax nostalgic over past stereotypes.   My friends, Israel protects its citizens, even its Arab citizens, many whose sons and daughters fight in the IDF, alongside, even commanding, Jewish soldiers.  When Israel’s citizens are not building and racing into bomb shelters, they are innovating to make the world a better place for everyone, EVERYONE.  When they are not creating missile defense systems, they are winning Nobel prizes in chemistry, economics, literature and peace.  It is because Israelis want to live, and live normal lives.  They do not spend every moment of every day hating and hoping and plotting to kill Arabs.  It is just the opposite with the radical Islamists.  They are so filled with hatred, they would rather their own people live in squalor and die as human shields, as long as they can kill Jews (and Americans too).  And they would rather use every dollar not stolen by their corrupt leadership for mansions and getaway villas, not on hospitals and hotels and schools and an economic infrastructure, but instead to manufacture and buy offensive weapons to use against Israel, and to build tunnels into Israel to kidnap and slaughter men, women and children.

My Facebook friends, I am so grateful and very fortunate to live in the United States, the greatest country in the world, my country that I deeply love, a place where I can use my voice, and my computer for mutual comfort and support, and for counterbalancing and educating when I can.  Some of you shared what I shared, added your voice to mine as I have my voice to yours, some of you have asked questions about posts and shares, others have learned and sympathized.  One of you from another country actually called me last week to ask me about all the Israel-related posts and shares, mentioning how it was unusual for me to do this.  And I was glad to explain why.  So I apologize if it has been a lot, and I hope those of you who have not appreciated my prolific “Facebooking” can forgive me, that is if you haven’t already un-followed me.  I promise you, as things settle down, so will I.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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