History is a great teacher. With the benefit of hindsight, we can examine the past with a critical eye and learn from the mistakes and triumphs of those that came before us. Pinpointing mistakes and mishaps is probably of greater value, especially in today’s day and age. There was a time when many praised the Soviet Union for creating paradise on Earth. These individuals saw what they wanted to see, believed what they wanted to believe and fell for the obvious propaganda being fed to them. These people praised Josef Stalin, the dictator who arranged for the mass starvation of millions of people. But these apologists did not dig deep when searching for the truth. They saw posters and read slogans and that was all they needed to believe the lie. It is maddening to see some within the Jewish community falling for this same superficial trap when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Instead of searching for a more nuanced and deeper truth, these Jews buy into the superficial narrative that so many of Israel’s enemies use to demonize her. And this current spat of violence between Hamas/Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Israel has given these individuals yet another opportunity to display their ignorance and naivety.
The terrorist groups operating in the Gaza Strip have yet again provoked a useless conflict. They have sent hundreds of missiles into Israel, causing dozens of injuries and leaving 4 Israelis dead. Israel, in response, has launched an aerial campaign against terrorist sites in an attempt to stop the missiles from indiscriminately targeting Israeli civilians. While there are some that are already demonizing Israel for defending her citizens, a particularly nefarious voice has once again emerged from the fray. IfNotNow, a Jewish organization that has replaced the Israeli flag with the Palestinian flag in their hearts and minds, has taken it upon itself to mourn those who have fallen in this current conflict. And who did they include on this list? Members of Hamas that have been killed by Israeli forces. While it is fine and appropriate to mourn Palestinian civilians killed in the conflict with Israel, it is utterly vile and sickening for Jews to mourn Hamas members. Would these people shed tears for SS men and women killed by the Allies? Would they cry and beat their chests for the ISIS members killed by the United States? I would hope not. But these Jews seize every opportunity they can to demonize Israel in a pathetic attempt to portray themselves as being the ‘Good Jew’. In a world that continues to see violence perpetrated against Israel and the Jewish people, the members of IfNotNow want to separate themselves from the mix by distancing themselves from Israel and the wider Jewish community. Debate and discussion about Israeli policy are always welcomed and needed, but openly mourning terrorist members that seek to slaughter Jews is a step too far. But these ‘activists’ seem to have lost all sense of decorum and decency.
IfNotNow appears to be a counter to Birthright, a group that brings young Jews from around the world to Israel to expose them to their history and culture. Apparently some Jews take offense at this project and instead want a trip that will include the Palestinian narrative. Firstly, it is immensely amusing that these young Jews complain and moan about receiving a free trip to Israel. It is as if a patron at a restaurant complained over a free meal. Secondly, if these Jews wanted a more holistic tour they could go to Israel at their own expense and volunteer with groups that seek to help the Palestinian people. But why would they do that when they can go on a free trip and complain the whole way instead? Why would they go dedicate their own money and time to help the Palestinians when they can march around the United States and demonize Israel? These ‘activists’ are quite similar to those Soviet apologists mentioned before. They binge on internet memes about the conflict, they listen to random Palestinian slogans, and they glance over anti-Israeli propaganda without looking for context or depth. And so these young Jews become useful mouthpieces for those that wish to see the destruction of Israel.
IfNotNow claims to be a voice for the future of the Jewish people. After being fed a steady stream of anti-Israel nonsense and ‘Social Justice Warrior’ mantras, they have taken it upon themselves to change the world. Again, seeking a change in the reality in the Middle East can be quite admirable. But only when it is done with noble intentions. These terrorist apologists do not have any noble intentions whatsoever. They do not seek true understanding or mutual respect between Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not volunteer their time or funds to promote a ‘middle road’ pathway to peace. No, instead they mourn the loss of Hamas terrorists. Instead of bringing people together to actually find a way to bring an end to the conflict, they march with banners and posters that delegitimize Israel. Who knew that openly siding with one party against another was an identity marker for a true peace activist?
It is heartbreaking to see this movement continue to grow. It is an example of how Jewish youth in the United States lack a basic understanding of Israel. The conflict is not black or white, but possesses within it various shades of grey. Israel is far from perfect, but this does not mean that terrorists should be hailed or mourned. These young Jews have fallen into the trap of superficiality: they shout slogans without knowing, they wave banners blindly and they get enraged without understanding the root causes of anything. These young Jews are perfect mirror images of those Soviet apologists from all those years ago. God help us all if they the future of our community.