OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Strength is Israel’s only real path to peace

The attempt by groups like IfNotNow to erode Israel’s support around the world and cast doubt on its legitimacy only perpetuates the conflict.

IfNotNow supporters at a rally in New York City. Source: IfNotNow via Facebook.
IfNotNow supporters at a rally in New York City. Source: IfNotNow via Facebook.
Matanya Harrow
Matanya Harrow

I just read an article about American Jewish progressive activist group IfNotNow sending members to Democratic Party rallies to ask the candidates about Israel. This led me to IfNotNow’s website. I started reading their “About Us.” I barely got through the first paragraph before I felt my blood pressure spiking.

“During the violence of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in 2014, young Jews angered by the overwhelmingly hawkish response of American Jewish institutions came together under the banner of IfNotNow to demonstrate their resistance through the beauty of Jewish ritual. Moved to act by moral anguish and inspired by Hillel’s three questions, they organized Mourner’s Kaddish actions in nearly a dozen cities across the country and lamented the loss of both Israeli and Palestinian life. They had three demands: Stop the War on Gaza, End the Occupation, and Freedom and Dignity for All.”

These young Americans of course have the right to express their opinion, but it goes to show the depth of the chasm that separates young Jews around the world.

While these young American Jews were angered by the “hawkish response” of the American Jewish institutions, young Israeli Jews were busy risking their lives to defend the Jewish state.

These young American Jews have clearly never felt that their lives are in danger simply because they are Jewish. While that is a wonderful thing in and of itself, if they had ever felt otherwise they might not be so quick to attack the only state in the world where Judaism is the norm.

American Jewish institutions are predominantly run by men and women who have been around the block a few times and are therefore more likely to have experienced said anti-Semitism. That may be part of the reason behind their support for Israel.

I am 100 percent behind all three of IfNotNow’s demands.

The problem is that these American kids are behaving exactly like that—kids. The older you get the more you realize that your actions have consequences. Often you have to put off immediate gratification in order to benefit in the long run.

I don’t just want an end to one Gaza war. I want an end to all Gaza wars. To achieve that, we, Israel, must defeat Hamas.

The second demand is an end to Israeli military occupation. Great! It is ridiculous that over 50 years after the liberation of Judea and Samaria, and more than 20 years after the Palestinian Authority was granted autonomy over Area A, that I still live under military occupation.

If the mayor of my town, Efrat, wants to do pretty much anything he doesn’t go to the relevant Israeli ministry, he has to get permission from the army. It’s ludicrous. So if IfNotNow wants an end to the occupation, I’m totally behind that. What I can’t get behind is the racist idea that it is okay to forcibly remove only Jews from their homes in order to make the area Judenrein. I was born and raised here. I am as indigenous as they come.

Their third demand is for freedom and dignity for all.


The sad part here is that I totally understand where these American students are coming from. I was raised with the same values. On the other hand, I am also a Middle Easterner, born and raised, and as such I understand that most of the world doesn’t operate under the same rules as the United States.

Coincidentally, this is one of the things that makes America so amazing—that it manages to sustain such a free and open society in a world that is quite often neither free nor open. From afar it seems like many in the United States take that for granted now, and therefore are more than happy to chop away at the very foundation of their society.

America became what it is because it was strong. Not because of Hollywood, not because of baseball. Because of strength. The era of Pax Americana has been one of the most peaceful in the history of the world.

If Israel is ever to live quietly, it will be through strength. Especially considering the volatile neighborhood in which we live.

IfNotNow attempts to erode Israel’s support around the world and cast doubt on its legitimacy. Its does these things in the name of peace, but in fact it is perpetuating war.

It is providing a tailwind to all those seeking to undermine and destroy Israel. The knowledge that any Israeli response will generate massive negative press, advancing its cause, motivates Hamas to fire rockets at Israel. Hamas knows its rockets won’t topple Israel. It’s playing a different game, and in their naiveté groups like IfNotNow play right along.

The support of the “hawkish” Jewish institutions promotes peace by strengthening Israel. IfNotNow was “moved to act from moral anguish” at watching Israel defend itself; I wonder how they feel about prolonging war and indirectly aiding terrorism.

But the craziest thing? It’s not the members of IfNotNow, safely criticizing from thousands of miles away, who have to pay for their mistake. Instead it is me and my friends, and all those who serve in the Israel Defense Forces, that have to pay for their meddling. Us, and also the Palestinian people, who suffer under the yoke of corrupt leadership propped up by these Western groups.

And now you all know why my blood pressure spiked.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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