This time last year, I was in Israel celebrating Israel’s Independence Day (I guess to be exact, it had already ended at this point), which is a holiday like no other.
It was, of course, a ton of fun, but one incident still stands out to me, and I wrote about it immediately following what happened.
The events of the past year alone have made it all too clear that those who deny the necessity of a Jewish state are deluding themselves.
What I didn’t mention in the article below (that I edited slightly to reflect how I’m no longer in Israel) is that at the end of the interaction that Gefen and I had with these anti-Israel fellows ended because they threatened to beat us with their crude, makeshift weapons (it was originally published under the title “Countering the Nakba Narrative”).
So much for open discourse.
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Ladies and gentlemen, I present the anti-Israel media bias up close and personal. After the thousandth person called me a baby killer I noticed they were wearing a media badge, so I decided to ask him about Hamas's use of human shields, which he denied. Then Mr. Green Shirt threatened to shatter my iPad and tried to gut punch me (notice when the camera angle goes down a little) after someone told me that my presence there "wasn't worth it." Excuse me, since when is my First Amendment right negotiable?
Unfortunately, this is a trend that’s all too familiar in America as well, as I unfortunately witnessed in person when a Marine was assaulted in front of the White House for daring to wave American and Israeli flags in the face of tens of thousands of anti-Israel protesters (for my Jerusalem Post OpEd about that, look no further).
With all of that said, I wish Israel nothing but the best for its upcoming 67th year!
This Yom HaAtzmaut, I was treated to an interesting spectacle of Palestinian tolerance. It is no secret that some (but by no means all) Arabs living in Israel take to the streets every year on the same day as Israel’s independence to commemorate the nakba. Allow me to take a brief moment to explain what the nakba is. It seems to me that its true definition is whitewashed all too commonly. The only thing that the nakba is is a commemoration of the failed war of aggression launched by the Arab countries surrounding Israel moments after its creation.
As such, there was a large traffic jam caused by a nakba protest outside the youth village of Hodayot where I was volunteering. Once our bus finally pulled in, my friend Gefen and I saw that the protest was actually at the bottom of a long hill that leads up to our village. After disembarking the bus, we took two large Israeli flags and ran down the hill to counter protest. Along the way, several Israelis were walking, and they wished us good luck. Sadly, the police told us as soon as we reached the bottom of the hill that we couldn’t wave our Israeli flags here, no matter how much they agreed with us. Instead of sulking back up the hill, we walked over to the nearby street and waved them for a while.
Most of my experience with any form of sign waving consists of waving signs for Republicans in either Montgomery County or Northern Virginia. Neither of these two regions are known for being overly friendly to Republicans, and I usually feel like it was largely unproductive after every time I do it. It was another feeling entirely to wave Israel’s flag on its Independence Day. There was a never-ending stream of honks from people from all walks of life, driving beat up cars to police cars to nice cars to ambulances in support of what we were doing. Once most of the media vans and police cars left the protest scene, Gefen and I go to inspect the scene of the protest, assuming it would be empty. Our first thoughts were that it was unusual to see all the signs leading towards the protests as pointing towards “Libya (or as they wrote in their poor English translation, “Lubya”).” Three protesters walked over to us while we were brandishing our Israeli flags, and after proceeding to say they want to defile my (non-existent) sister, they somehow say the following: נעשה לכם עוד שואה. This means that they want to wage another Holocaust against us. In addition to the disgust that I felt, I found it interesting that they used the first person plural here, seeming to take responsibility for the likes of Hajj Amin al Husseini in aiding and abetting the Nazis (although I doubt it). The fact that they also acknowledged that it would be another Holocaust means they, unlike “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas, acknowledge the magnitude of the Holocaust. None of this is to mask the disgust I felt upon hearing this, and their entire protest was entirely delegitimized (as if there ever was any legitimacy in the first place) when we asked them to explain the significance of the signs pointing towards Libya. They responded by saying that before our grandparents invaded this land in 1948, it was Libya. The two core elements of this sentence are blatantly false. This has been the Jewish homeland for longer than these protesters could even fathom, and Libya is (shockingly) in Northern Africa, as it has been for quite some time. These words show the ignorance of the entire group of protesters at this particular site, all of whom voiced no objection to walking to a protest labeled “Libya.”
It comes as no shock to me that Israel’s detractors have no sense of history of the region, but the plain stupidity of this particular group of people is particularly worrisome. These are the people Israel is expected to live side by side with. My worries stem from the fact that, rather than seeking to have a civil discussion with them about the errors of, well, everything they just said, they spat their cigarettes at us and brandished a very odd metal club of sorts, and we realized it was time to go.
It’s hard for me to imagine my Fourth of July barbeque being interrupted by nationwide demonstrations against my right to exist as an American, but it is the sad reality that Israelis are forced to spend one of the happiest days of their year, knowing that there are all too many out there who are unwilling to see it celebrate a 67th birthday and a week after its celebrations, I think that its lessons are as important as ever.