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The Jewish Report Editorial

Exploding fake mythology about Israel



As I sit here late on Tuesday night to write my editorial, I keep receiving news flashes about more and more missile attacks on central Israel. I feel sick to my stomach knowing that most of my family who live there are holed up in bomb shelters overnight as they pray that the Iron Dome is able to stop the missiles aimed at their town or city.

I feel scared for them and especially for my precious 18-year-old niece who is spending a year living in the Old City in Jerusalem. What does she know of missiles? What does she understand about this kind of violence?

But then, who should be subjected to this whenever terrorist groups feel the time is right? Most people just want to live a peaceful life.

It amazes me how something that appeared initially to be an ugly fracas on the Temple Mount has spiralled into what looks like war. The night sky above the cities that we all love have come alive with what looks like fireworks – only, these videos are of deadly missiles aiming to kill as many people as possible. And they are being sent from Gaza. The only thing between them and Israelis is the Kupat Barzel, the so-called Iron Dome, that deflects the missiles, exploding them high up in the air.

If not for this phenomenal Israeli invention, there would be thousands of deaths in Israel. Quite simply, with missiles aimed at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the central part of the country, these missiles could have destroyed most Israelis.

But at great financial cost – with each Iron Dome counter missile costing about $50 000 (R700 494) and the battery for the machinery costing $100 million (R1.4 billion) – they weren’t able to.

Now, if you had been reading other papers in South Africa this week, you might be surprised to read what’s written in this one about Israel. We have made every attempt to bring you factual accounts, from journalist Paula Slier who is covering the conflict from the Middle East, from South Africans in Israel, as well as showing you South Africa’s reaction to the conflict.

This was of vital importance to us because most South African leaders and media have all but ignored what Israel is experiencing. In fact, they have made Israel out to be the devil incarnate.

I have to say I was angered at hearing people referring to ordinary Israelis as “rabid Zionists” and neglecting to say that the missiles were coming fast and furious to central Israel from Gaza before Israel retaliated. The bias appears to be endemic.

When I heard or read reports of Israeli police attacking “worshippers praying”, I was astonished. On checking the facts, I discovered that nobody was praying, they were protesting and throwing stones and rocks at the police. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never taken rocks and stones to shul to pray. I have been to Al-Aqsa, and I can assure you there are no rocks and stones lying around to be thrown. Someone had to bring them there.

Now, I’m not going to say to you that Israel and the Israeli authorities never do anything wrong. That would be untrue. I’m not someone who blindly believes that. Like any leaders and any government, Israel makes mistakes. We all do. That’s called being human.

I wasn’t there, so I cannot tell you exactly – blow by blow – what happened, but I can tell you that the first tirade of missiles came from Gaza, and they were aimed at Jerusalem, the holiest and most populated city in Israel. Yes, the terrorists knew that Israel had the Iron Dome, but they sent many missiles at once to try and get as many through so they could to do as much damage as possible.

They were aiming for civilians, and clearly they didn’t care whether they were Jewish, Muslim, or Christian.

And it didn’t stop there. They then fired vast numbers of missiles at other extremely populated areas, like Tel Aviv. If their plan wasn’t to kill or maim innocent civilians, then what was it?

But South Africa’s political leadership can’t see that Israel has a right to protect its people. I don’t know of any country that wouldn’t respond to missiles fired into its densely populated cities. Do you?

I understand that the Palestinians have a right to protest, as do any group. Those protesting maintain it was about the potential eviction of four families in East Jerusalem – not hundreds of people as has been stated in other media. I do understand, though, that any forced removals are emotional and often politicised.

My point is that, no matter what happened, the huge scale of violence that ensued wasn’t the fault of Israel, yet that’s not what has been portrayed.

I battle to understand how leaders and journalists can’t see that there are two sides to every story. There is never only one.

However, there clearly is a blindness about anything that Israel does that’s positive. It can be seen only as provocateur and aggressor.

Okay, so Israeli leadership has made it the country’s business to ensure that it uses every means at its disposal to protect its people. This evidently isn’t a bad thing, considering the situation Israel is in. And partly because of this, it’s demonised. I guess, if thousands of Israelis died in the missile attack, South Africans might be more forgiving or sympathetic. But, why should Israel have to suffer many deaths to get people to understand it has a right to exist and a right to protect itself?

I hope that as we and the world go to sleep tonight, the missile warfare comes to a permanent halt. It’s enough! I also hope that at some point, those who are so dead against Israel will see that it takes two to fight.

Shabbat Shalom and chag sameach!

We won’t be publishing next week because of Shavuot, but we will be back the following week (28 May).

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