Last Monday evening I was invited by Israel Heritage Foundation (IHF) for an intimate dinner with Ministers of the Knesset Simcha Dan Rothman and Ohad Tal, both members of the reigning Religious Zionist Party, the far-Right voice where much of our readership is aligned. The duo arrived in the United States to share the realities of October 7th and everything that has transpired since. They desire Israel’s strong sovereignty in the Yehudah and Shomron regions, Area C. We all remember 2005 when Israel pulled out its 22 communities totaling 10,000 persons from Gaza. Today, all factions of Israelis suffer the consequences of that retreat and there is a unified voice that a two-state solution is a nonstarter, because the repeated 30 years of giving suggested by the Oslo Accords has not resulted in peace. Time again I am asked by New Yorkers how they can make an impact. Our conversation, introduced by IHF Executive Director Rabbi Duvid Katz, was point-blank aimed at giving readers practical measures to fight back against undermining declarations from those poised to shred our religious values. Rabbi Dr. Joe Frager, IHF’s Executive Vice President, praised the Ministers for withstanding criticism, acknowledged that they have been maligned as misinformation is continuously shared about their efforts to advance Israel. Dr. Frager expressed that signing the Accords on September 13th, 1993, led to weaponizing Hamas whereby giving them the empowerment and embodiment to orchestrate October 7th. Small numbers of people mentioned this reality 30 years ago. Now that Hamas has used their ability to weaken Israel, greater numbers of people agree. Dr. Frager thanked the Biden Administration for arming Israel appropriately, but shunned the consistent pressure on the IDF to fulfill their mission as it is based on falsified statistics released by Gazan officials. In war, civilian casualties are a reality. But nobody does more to protect human life than the IDF.
Shabsie Saphirstein: How can any every day American be proactive in protecting our land of Israel?
MK Simcha Rothman: Anyone living in the United States wields influence over the elected officials that govern their communities. Acting now is vital more so for your country than for Israel, because over the last number of months it has become apparent that the West is next based on the escalation of antisemitism nationwide. Many ask, “If I ask my representative to support Israel, am I working for the interests of Israel, or of the U.S.?” The overall understanding is that interests are similar. This is confirmed by the attacks on Jews worldwide that commenced as news of the October 7th massacre spread. It is not different issues, nor unrelated interests. They are one in the same. Anyone can fight the radical Islam ideology that threaten us all. Here in the U.S., outreach can strengthen Israel with a wide-ranging effect by speaking out on campuses, and at mosques.
Another major issue is fighting lies on social media by being informed and using the information to push back. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) wants Israel to prevent genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, but it is the people of Israel that suffered genocide and are now wrongfully being accused of conducting such an effort. The real numbers speak for themselves. Israel has always and continues to protect civilians to the best of its ability, anything to the contrary is a blatant lie.
Lastly, are the Americans who visit Israel on a mission or to see family and donate much needed funds to organizations in the country that help fortify the backbone of Israel’s society. The U.S. government has been accommodating in providing weaponry, but a strong mindset is just as integral. For 30 years since the Oslo conception, the highest echelons of Israeli society have been infused with the notion that if we appease terror, we will be rewarded with silence. Today, many groups work diligently, especially with young leaders, to impart new ideas, because the reigning conception blinded Israelis to the threats right under our noses.
Shabsie Saphirstein: International Holocaust Remembrance Day was held this past Shabbos. Yet, as we are acutely aware, antisemitism is by far at its highest point since the Shoah. Just look across the street at how the U.N. speaks of Jews. Is this the reality in Israel? How is such hatred addressed in Israel, and how can we apply those concepts on our streets?
MK Ohad Tal: Antisemitism has drastically increased worldwide. For two years I lived in Holland and can attest that antisemitism in Europe has risen by hundreds of percent. Every couple of days there are demonstrations at the United Nations calling for women rights and to see them live freely. However, on October 7th, Israel saw women being brutally raped and then shot in the head, yet there was silence from the U.N. This is an element of antisemitism as are the sad happenings on American college campuses here in America. I implore your readers to recognize that Israel is not just fighting for itself in a war against Hamas. The war in Israel is far greater as our nation must suppress radical Islamic thinking. Because if the extremists feel that after October 7th they can win, then its effects will reverberate worldwide, and radicals will sprout their heads anywhere they desire from European capitals to the streets of New York.
It should be known that if Israel, Heaven forbid, does not win this war, hatred for Jews will only increase. Supporting Israel against Hamas’ terror, moreover, supports the right of the free world to exist without the fear of persecution from radicals determined to eradicate their presence. The peaceful people of the world fail to fathom that an ideology of extermination is alive amongst some segments of society. We yearn for a good life where we can raise an educated family in relative safety. For a peaceful nation like Israel, the notion of buying tranquility is normal thinking, while our enemies seek simply to see the free world abolished ignoring any financial incentive for the alternative. Israel stands at the forefront of this battle and therefore winning is the only option, not for the sake of their people, rather for the sake of the free world.
Shabsie Saphirstein: Secular media portrays the war as Israel’s. Right-wing media mostly stresses that it is Israel’s war against radical Islamic terror, Hamas. Anti-Israel protests are widely led by uninformed persons who do not grasp the concept behind a potential ceasefire. They simply take the oppose side of commonsense. What ammunition can a layman use against an extremist?
MK Ohad Tal: The same answer always prevails. We are fighting for our identity. A Jew who connects strongly to their distinctiveness realizes and is proud of who they are. A Jew comprehends that they are connected to a larger cause that they should take pride in and act upon. This is our challenge, especially with the younger generation what suffers in college campuses often afraid to reveal their Jewish identity, let alone acknowledge support of Israel. First and foremost we must be proud of our Jewish identity.