update deskIsrael at War

Defeating Hamas, Hezbollah key to winning PR war, Netanyahu says

The prime minister spoke at a meeting marking 30 years since the death of the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets campus Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis from all over the world at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 10, 2024. Credit: Koby Gideon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets campus Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis from all over the world at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 10, 2024. Credit: Koby Gideon/GPO.

Swiftly defeating Hamas and Hezbollah on the battlefield is critical to winning the global public-relations war against the Jewish state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told rabbis gathered at his office on Wednesday.

Netanyahu spoke at a meeting with Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries from Israel, the United States and other countries, marking 30 years since the death of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Schneerson was born 122 years ago on April 18. He died in Manhattan in 1994 on the Hebrew date of 3 Tammuz, which this year fell on July 9.

“We can win this war. We’re going to win it. We are winning it, in fact,” said the premier, per a readout. “But we also have to win the war in the world. The quicker we end this war, the quicker we’ll be able to also fend off the slanders, and that’s something that we’re going to do.”

Netanyahu told the Chabad emissaries, “Don’t bend, don’t cower, don’t surrender, not to these antisemitic lies, not to the fear, not to the intimidation. You are our ambassadors in the spirit of the Rebbe.”

‘Carry that message of truth to the world’

The Israeli leader related how he first met Schneerson in 1984, in the early days of his tenure as ambassador to the United Nations. “He said: ‘You are going to be the ambassador of the Jewish people in the Hall of Darkness,’ as he called the U.N. He said, light a candle of truth. Stand up against our enemies and for our people and for our land.

“He said three things: Ahavat Yisrael [‘love for the Jewish people’], defend Eretz Yisrael [‘the Land of Israel’] and fight the lies,” continued Netanyahu. “In each generation, they rise up to destroy us. And God will redeem us from their hands. But we have to help the Holy One, blessed be He. We have to take our own action against our would-be destroyers.

“It’s just become even more necessary, more acute, more indispensable than at any time in your lifetimes. Carry that message to our people. Carry that message of truth to the world,” the prime minister said.

Among others, Chabad on Campus chief operating officer Rabbi Avi Weinstein, Chabad on Campus Israel director Rabbi Moshe Shilat and Harvard University emissary Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi participated in Wednesday’s meeting.

Some 200 Chabad on Campus rabbis touched down in Israel on Tuesday for its annual summer convention, which was held in the Jewish state this year to show support in the wake of the Hamas terrorist attacks on Oct. 7 and the taking of hostages back to the Gaza Strip.

“There was no question in our minds that this year’s Kinus”—the annual fall convention of Chabad emissaries that draws thousands of rabbis to Brooklyn, N.Y., the world headquarters of Chabad—“had to be in Israel. Despite the logistical obstacles, the emissaries felt it crucial to show up and stand with their Israeli brethren,” Weinstein said.

The delegation, which includes rabbis from all over the world, is slated to visit wounded Israel Defense Forces soldiers at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan’s Tel Hashomer neighborhood; bear witness at the sites of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks; and hold a barbecue at the IDF’s Sde Teiman base near Beersheva.

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