Shlicha's/Shaliach's View

Local talks contrast false, real views of Israel

Guy Gelbart

Demonizing, Delegitimizing, Destroying (DDD), a very clear and simple strategy led by anti-Israel movements across the world, is now gaining power in the United States. On Monday, Oct. 11, Norman Finkelstein, one of the leaders of this hate-spreading approach, was in Tucson to address audiences at the University of Arizona.

Finkelstein, born to Jewish Holocaust survivors in New York, has built his entire career on speaking against Israel. He spoke at the UA for over two and a half tiring hours, as the crowd dwindled from 140 people to about 60. Finkelstein began by mixixng lies, alleged evidence and context-less quotes to present Israel and the Israeli Jews as bloodthirsty monsters, reminding me with horror of how Jewish people were demonized prior to the start of World War II. He then sought to scare his audience with a nightmarish prophecy of upcoming war. “Israel will try to destroy Lebanon,” he said. “This will lead to a ‘chain reaction,’” he added, clearly implying a nuclear option.

Asked about Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, he replied, “I will not tell you it is not wrong, attacking civilians is always wrong, but all of us do wrong things, if I was a Palestinian I would have done it.” To me, this conclusion clearly showed his support for vicious terrorist attacks on Israeli children. Imploring the audience, he added, “God helps those who help themselves, it is not enough that you support me, you need to get out there and act.” Hearing this call for action, which could easily be taken as a call for violence, gave me a chill.

In the same week, the Israel Center presented a more moderate speaker. On Thursday evening, Oct. 14, Yaakov Katz, military correspondent and defense analyst for The Jerusalem Post and Israel correspondent for the London-based Jane’s Defense Weekly, kicked off the Heartbeat of Israel series with a lecture at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

Katz, considered by many Israelis to be center left wing, also spoke earlier in the day at the UA, focusing on the challenges facing a reporter covering the Israeli-Arab conflict. “It takes a long time to really reveal the truth,” he said. “Nearly always the information we get in the first several hours, sometimes days, is not accurate or even completely false, but as a reporter you need to participate in this race. The first one to bring the story gets all the credit.

“The big problem is that public opinion is set within a very short time frame. The IDF spokesmen need several hours to verify the information before sending it out to the press, leaving us journalists with only one side of the story for a very long time, media- wise,” he added.

At the JCC, Katz noted that although the worldwide media claimed for years that Israel has nuclear capability, this claim did not lead to a nuclear race in the Middle East. Clearly Israel’s Arab neighbors saw its alleged nuclear option as merely defensive. Only after Iran’s attempts to reach nuclear power were published did Syria, Egypt and Jordan seek nuclear capability.

Katz discussed Iran’s tremendous efforts in supplying medium and long distance missiles to the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations, enabling them to reach all parts of Israel. He ended his lecture by pointing out that in its peace agreement with Egypt as well as in the disengagement from Gaza, Israel proved that the settlements are not a real obstacle to peace.

Katz’s lecture showed the military war we are all aware of, a war of terror by Iran against the western world and Israel. Finkelstein’s lecture was the war. A sophisticated war, to my mind a more dangerous one, which takes place not in the Middle East but here in the heart of the United States, seeking to demonize Israel and delegitimize its right to exist as a Jewish state.

Finkelstein’s lecture is part of an attempt to prepare public opinion for a world without Israel, much like the dark propaganda aimed to prepare public opinion for a world without Jews prior to World War II. The Jewish community must not stay indifferent in the face of this real threat. We must stand against those demonizing voices with a united voice that supports our right, as the Jewish people, to have our state in the land of Israel.

Guy Gelbart is Tucson’s community shaliach (Israeli emissary) and director of the Israel Center.