(May 16, 2021 / Jewish Journal) The below is adapted from a speech I gave at a Stand with Israel rally on May 13, 2021.
Throughout our history, almost every pogrom against Jews, whether it was in Europe or in the Middle East and North Africa, was incited by a lie.
In our indigenous homeland, in the land of Israel, we sadly have experience with a long history of lies—grounded in raw Jew-hatred—sparking violence against us.
During the 20th century, that history includes a sad repetition of the so-called “cycle of violence,” which we hear repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media in both the United States and Europe.
Since the Arab riots against Jews in Jerusalem during Passover in 1920, this pattern has repeated many times (1921, 1929, 1936, 1947 … and more times than one can count in the 21st century already).
And the lie that incited pogroms against Jews in the land of Israel? The false claim by Palestinian Arab leaders (even before they began collectively referring to themselves as Palestinian) about the terrible threat posed by the Jews or Zionists to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
From infamous Nazi collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseni’s lies and blood libels about threats to Al-Aqsa in 1920 (which during Passover of that year resulted in a pogrom/riot that killed five and injured over 200 Jews) to Mahmoud Abbas’s “we welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem” and the Palestinian Authority’s recent calls on social media for Palestinians to “redeem Jerusalem with [their] lives” and for people to “sacrifice for the sake of the Al-Aqsa Mosque until our last breath,” these lies and libels have incited violence against Jews.
The violence we are seeing now has been justified by two lies that are being repeated by so many in the Western media and in social media.
The first lie is the claim that Israeli troops or police for no reason attacked worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on May 7.
But that isn’t what happened.
What happened was that Hamas extremists desecrated Al-Aqsa by storing in it fireworks, bottles, jagged pieces of concrete and rocks, which they literally had on their prayer rugs.
Then, they used those fireworks, bottles, rocks and jagged pieces of concrete as projectiles to throw from the Temple Mount at Jews praying near the Temple Mount and at the Israeli Border Police, who were there to protect the right of everyone—Jew, Christian and Muslim—to live and pray peacefully in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Border Police officers then went into Al-Aqsa to arrest these violent extremists, and a riot ensued.
To recap: Anti-Jewish extremists desecrate a mosque by turning it into a weapons storehouse and a base of operations for violent attacks on Jews and police, but riot when law enforcement enters the mosque to try to arrest them.
Sorry, but that is not how the rule of law works. It can never be how the rule of law works. No one should be allowed to desecrate a house of worship, try to kill people with the weapons they stored in that same house of worship and then claim they should be immune from arrest because they are in the house of worship.
The second lie being perpetuated by Hamas and the P.A. and then promoted by much of the media is that this violence was a reaction to “forcible evictions” of Arab families from Jerusalem’s Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood; the supposed “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs from Jerusalem.
This is another lie.
Four Arab families are currently at risk of eviction in the Shimon Hatzadik section of a neighborhood called Sheikh Jarrah. These people are the tenants of an Israeli organization that owns these properties. They are not facing eviction because they are Arabs. They are facing eviction because they are refusing to pay rent and have illegally expanded the properties.
This happens all over Israel, not just in Jerusalem (and certainly not only among the country’s Arab population). In Israel, and in the rest of the world for that matter, when people don’t pay rent, the property owners initiate eviction proceedings.
This should have been nothing other than a local rent dispute between landlord and tenant. The fact that tenants might try to challenge ownership based on a long standing dispute over how they received an ostensible right to reside in these homes from the Jordanian government—after the Jewish owners of those homes were removed from the area (along with all other Jews)—by the Arab Legion in 1948-49, still makes it a legal dispute. But it has been cynically twisted to serve the propaganda interests of the P.A. and Hamas.
These rival groups are motivated to outdo each other in being the one to stick it most loudly to the Jews, after Abbas once again cancelled an election in the P.A. because he rightfully feared a major Hamas victory. As a result, Abbas is entering the 17th year of a four-year term and needs to distract people from his incredible corruption, abuse of power and another election cancellation, by competing with Hamas in spreading lies about Jews and Israel, to prove to his people that he is just as big an Israel-hater as any of his Hamas rivals.
And Hamas, for its part, cynically sees this as an opportunity to prove to the Palestinians why they were going to vote for Hamas in the first place. With most Palestinian Arabs believing the lies about Al-Aqsa (just as when those lies were first spread by Husseini back in the 1920s), Hamas wants to use this “round of violence” to demonstrate that Abbas isn’t the true protector of Al-Aqsa and of Jerusalem—Hamas is. So Hamas started firing rockets into Israel.
In three days, nearly 2,000 rockets were fired into Israel, forcing 3.5 million Israelis, including the elderly and little children, to constantly run into bomb shelters and often even sleep in them. Practically an entire country being terrorized, based on lies.
At least nine Israelis dead to date, including a 16-year-old Arab girl and a 5-year-old Jewish boy murdered by the indiscriminate rockets Hamas fires at Israeli civilians.
To recap: Over another lie about Jews attacking or threatening Al-Aqsa, and the P.A. and Hamas hyping up a dispute over unpaid rent, Hamas is bombing an entire country.
It sounds absurd. It is absurd. And yet, as absurd as it is, when we turn on the news or read social media, or see how some of our politicians and celebrities are responding to this latest cynical attack on Israel by an Iranian-backed terrorist group with an official charter that reads like it was written between some evil hybrid of Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden, we see people condemning Israel and supporting Hamas.
Hamas is committing war crimes twice over: intentionally trying to murder Israeli civilians, coupled with using Gazan civilians as human shields by putting rocket launchers, missile batteries and other materiel in and around apartments, mosques, hospitals and schools.
But Hamas not only uses its people as human shields to protect its rockets—it kills them with its own rockets. At least 17 so far. Out of some 350 rockets that misfired and came down in Gaza.
And yet we see so many in the media, so many celebrities, and so many western politicians—people who should know better—defending Hamas and attacking Israel.
Rep. Ilhan Omar recently tweeted “Many will tell you Israel has a right to defend itself, to safety and security, but are silent on whether Palestinians have those rights too.” She added: “Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians.”
But Hamas does have a foolproof system for protecting Palestinian civilians from Israeli rockets and missiles. More foolproof than Israel’s Iron Dome—it’s called don’t fire rockets at Israel.
Trevor Noah, who should really stick to comedy, essentially said on The Daily Show recently: “Ultimately, who cares who’s right and wrong in the Arab-Israeli conflict; who cares about history. What matters is who is more powerful, and Israel is more powerful.”
He then proceeded to compare Hamas attacking Israel to a 5-year-old attacking a teenager. (Within hours of him comparing Hamas to a 5-year-old, Hamas’s rockets murdered a 5-year-old.)
What people like Trevor Noah don’t seem to understand is that the reason Israelis are still being maimed, killed and threatened by Hamas rockets, is because Israel goes out of its way to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties.
Last week, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) gave a speech in which he said: “What is under siege is not only Israel. What is under siege is the truth itself. Circulating on social media is a vicious lie—a lie that deceptively reframes the terrorism of Hamas as self-defense and deceptively reframes the self-defense of Israel as terrorism. Increasingly, we seem to live in an Orwellian universe where the truth no longer matters.”
He is right. And it is not only truth that is under siege; but basic morality itself. An inversion of morality, in which people who literally praise Hitler and fly swastikas are praised by many celebrities and social media influencers as freedom fighters, and the Jews, who Hamas and its followers openly say they want to mass murder, are labeled (and libeled) as Nazis.
So what should we do about it? What can we do about it sitting here in the relative safety and security of life in California?
Stand for the truth. Proudly. Stand for Israel. Proudly. Learn more about our history. And fight the lies whenever and wherever you can.
As the late great Rabbi Jonathan Sacks often said, the baseless hatred directed today at the Jewish people’s only nation-state is just the latest version of the antisemitic virus of Jew hatred that “in every generation rises against us.” As has been the case throughout Jewish history, the war against truth and morality has often paved the way for those who murder Jews, as well as those who excuse it.
We have to fight against this assault on the truth and assault on morality as if our lives depend on it. Because, ultimately, they do.
Micha Danzig served in the Israeli army and is a former police officer with the NYPD. He is currently an attorney and is very active with numerous Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, including Stand With Us, T.E.A.M. and the FIDF.
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.
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