Israel and Palestine: Co-opting the false narrative | Opinion –

Posted By on June 21, 2021

Jason M. Shames and Lee Lasher, Special to the USA TODAY Network Published 4:15 a.m. ET June 21, 2021

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Security Cabinet approved a unilateral cease-fire to halt the military operation in the Gaza Strip. USA TODAY

Now that attention has shifted away from last month's outbreak of Palestinian violence including Hamas missile attacks against Israel, another severe battle is brewing worldwide, threatening the Jewish people. As we know, the recent conflict started with planned riots and then escalated to launching close to 5,000 rockets at Israeli civilians, homes, apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, houses of worship and places of business. Todays relative calm obscures the extraordinary effort by Palestinian leaders and their followers to actively discredit Israelis and Jews with a distorted narrative.

Let's begin with the historical accusations they are making about Israel implying genocide and ethnic cleansing. During the Holocaust, six million Jews died, reducing the total European Jewish population by more than two-thirds in just six years between 1939 and 1945. By contrast, the Palestinian population in disputed lands and Gaza has doubled over the past 21 years. Additionally, slogans and chants like "Death to Israel" and the infamous "From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free (of Jews)" actually and directly call for genocide. Shouldnt that be shocking to all?

Smoke from flares rises in the sky in Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday. (AP Photo)

Also, let's not ignore that Hamas, the strongest political, military and most followed Palestinian entity, is a United States-designated terror organization. And for good reason. Hamas states in its covenant that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." By contrast, in Israel's declaration of statehood the language includes "ensure(s) complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."

During the recent conflict, Palestinians advanced a narrative of Israel being a white colonizer. They did this with hopes of steering American policy and linking themselves as oppressed in the "white, black, brown" racial and intersectionality discourse of existing American discontent.And in many cases, it worked. Intersectionality has evolved as a concept that all oppression is linked in some ways. And we believe the recent #StopHate movements have been co-opted to blur the lines and nuances of different situations, often ignoring history and painting all conflicts with the same broad brushstroke. Where are the hashtags to "#StopJewishHate" alongside "#StopAsianHate" or "#Black LivesMatter"?

Distressingly, this narrative has been enthusiastically picked up by many media outlets, including the usual culprits The New York Times and CNN as well as other social media platforms. Even the minority of elected officials who subscribe to this false narrative seem to get more coverage than the majority who support Israel and its right to defend itself.

Where is the outcry against Palestinian treatment of the LGBTQ community or religious minorities? Do progressives truly want to align themselves with a brutal, repressive, terror regime that calls for the destruction of the one Jewish homeland and shoots missiles at civilians while hiding behind and endangering their own people? How is that not hypocritical?

When these and other truths are so obviously ignored the accurate assumption is that anti-Semitism is the driver behind these false narratives and this anti-Israel bias.

We know there are parts to this issue that are complex and complicated. Were not suggesting there are easy answers. But we wholeheartedly believe that until there is a true understanding and representation of all sides of the issues, there is little, if any chance, of resolving this conflict. In the meantime, we will continue to stand up for our Israel and the Jewish people.

Jason M. Shames is CEO of theJewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Lee Lasher is president of theJewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

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