March 26, 2020

Corona-19 and Anti-Israel Ideology

                                              published at TimesofIsrael

Israeli doctors and nurses, like medical professionals worldwide, are working round the clock in extremely difficult conditions. The country is almost completely locked down.

Yet those who subscribe to a relentless anti-Israel ideology find ways to use the current crisis to distort and denigrate real life in Israel and to obscure Israel’s humanitarian contributions. At its most extreme, it is an ideology in which Israel is always at fault.

The state-run news services of both Iran and Turkey simply blame Zionists for the outbreak of Corona-19.

Dozens of posts blaming Jews and Israel for the Corona virus are showing up on social media. The Anti-Defamation League has been tracking this commentary. Some twitter comments have been especially grotesque.

At California State University, Stanislaus, a political science professor claimed Israel would have “different medical treatments for Jews and non-Jews” and would “put non-Jews in prisons.” This slander outraged many people who responded that the professor clearly knows nothing about Israel, its national heath system, and the huge number of Arab-Israeli doctors and nurses. He fired back calling the responders “Zionist hoodlums” and writing, “looks like I activated the Israel lobby.”

The University of Maryland branch of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) found itself facing a campus-hosted event called “Corona and Countering the Occupation.” As the SSI noted, the “event doesn’t have any logic to it and is hijacking an international epidemic.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Israeli scientists are testing possible vaccines and working to develop cures. Israel sent protective equipment and hundreds of thousands of masks to China. Quarantined patients around the world have been able to ask questions of Israeli doctors who are volunteering to give their support using technology based in Tel Aviv.

An Israeli company is donating millions of doses of a drug that scientists say may halt the virus and that US health officials are fast-tracking for public use.

And in exact reversal of anti-Israel dogma, the Jewish state is working closely with the Palestinian Authority. Israel has been delivering medical gear and testing equipment to the PA and providing special joint trainings for Israeli and Palestinian medical personnel.

In spite of very recent rocket attacks on civilians in Israel, the Israelis have given hundreds of test kits to Hamas-run Gaza. In fact, a big part of Israel’s emergency measures are “focused on the Palestinians.” According to Col. Sharon Biton who heads the government activities in the West Bank:

“Our efforts against this virus stem not merely from a legal duty, but from a humanitarian and moral one, with an understanding that this pathogen does not care about national borders."

Such efforts are not forthcoming from any other Middle Eastern country.

With his decades of experience as a journalist in both Israel and the Palestinian areas, Khaled Abu Toameh assesses the situation clearly:
Egypt, for its part, long ago abandoned the Palestinians by essentially sealing its border with the Gaza Strip. The Lebanese, Egyptians and most Arabs perceive the Palestinians as Israel's problem. When the current virus crisis has passed, it is to be hoped that the Palestinians will remember that one country alone came to their rescue: Israel.”

March 11, 2020

To the Brave Students Who Counter "Apartheid" Week

                                          published at Times of Israel

If you are a student concerned about the appearance on your campus of the two- or three-week “Week” devoted to factually bizarre comparisons of Israel to South African apartheid, know that the Week is aimed at silencing you. And since others will simply ignore the Week or assume it has a valid point to make, it appears that the Week is actually put on especially for you.

It is not aimed at any policy of Israel and it certainly does not advocate for a State of Palestine next to the State of Israel, any more than does its counterpart the Boycott movement. It is performance art, whose goal is delegitimizing Israel and in that process, you. 

What has happened is that Israel has been framed. The perspectives through which Israel is viewed block out the reality of life there. And you are on a front line dealing with this framing that shows up dramatically during the Week, but also exists in much of what you’ll experience on campus whenever Israel is mentioned, and in much of what you’ll find in the media. 

You don't have to know all the facts to counter the framing of Israel because the charges the Week makes are not based on facts in the first place. Of course, knowing about Israel’s historical and current situations will be useful to you, but mostly because you’ll be reassured that in spite of the cognitive dissonance you may experience at hearing warriors for social justice single out one (and only one) small, liberal nation to boycott and label as an evil entity, Israel is actually the place you think it is: beautiful and unique; intense and relaxed; full of craziness and problems; and yet, multicultural and progressive and free.

Take heart. Your concern and your visible opposition to the laughable portrayal of Israel offered by the Week makes you one of the bravest students on campus. 

For one thing, you are voicing your objections pretty much on your own, with just your group of Zionist students, in a setting where even the word Zionist has been cancelled. Professor Judea Pearl wisely explains that it is "Zionophobia" you are fighting against, “the irrational fear of a homeland for the Jewish people,” a prejudice that even some Jews may hold. 

You’re brave because there are many campus events with which some students quietly disagree; yet the anti-Israel events are those that do result in counter-response. You are standing up in the face of what you know to be slander against the Jewish state.

Since each campus is its own small ecosystem, you are likely to know best which responses to the untruths heard during the Week will suit your school. Whether you put up your own informational display, or stand silently with signs supporting Israel, or go ahead and engage in a shouting match, or post quotes from political leaders, or hand out pictures of regular life in Israel, or perform Israeli rock or rap, all those less brave than you are depending on you and thanking you.