Tuesday, September 16, 2014 Elul 21, 5774

Fight and Flight

July 23, 2014
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A pro-Palestine demonstration in France
As the Gaza conflict metastasizes into its third week, those who focus only on the battles between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas are missing an important development.
 
Like an embarrassingly large percentage of the mainstream media, by paying attention to events in Israel, they will have missed coverage of anti-Semitic eruptions masquerading as anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian demonstrations taking place around the world. These range from the placement of leaflets warning of forthcoming violence against Jews found on cars in Chicago’s Pulaski Park neighborhood to a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin that featured, among other anti-Semitic obscenities, the chant of “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight.”
 
There were chants in Paris as well — “Hitler was right” and “Death to the Jews” — as well as a horrifying incident where a mob trapped nearly 200 congregants inside one of the city’s synagogues. There was no refuge to be found in government institutions either. In Istanbul, the Israeli Embassy was attacked by rioters no doubt emboldened by the virulent comments made by the country’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who publicly accused Israel of perpetrating a “systematic genocide.” 
 
These incidents send a message that has long since been received by Israel and the Jewish community: There is often no distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said so eloquently and presciently, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.”
 
We should not only remember Dr. King’s courageous words; we should also take inspiration from his support of Israel throughout his lifetime.
 
Just as people around the world have shown up to publicly back Israel and her people — including in Berlin and in Australia, where thousands of supporters turned up at rallies across the country — we must continue to show the solidarity with Israel that Philadelphia Jewry has demonstrated over the past few weeks. This can be accomplished through rallies, donating to relief funds or creating unique means of encouragement like Jonathan Makar, a local entrepreneur who is using the proceeds from his T-shirt sales to pay for pizza and ice cream deliveries to IDF soldiers. 
 
Non-violence is obviously not an option for Israelis who find themselves fighting an enemy that attacks from beneath and above the ground.
 
But not everything that flies through the air toward Tel Aviv is a harbinger of destruction. Even as U.S. airlines canceled flights into Tel Aviv on July 22, 228 North American olim — including 100 children — arrived to begin their new lives in the Jewish state. Let’s follow their lead and continue to send evidence of our support to a country that has already paid too high a price for a war it never wanted — and now must win. 

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