by Doris Strub Epstein
Hama’s best weapon in it’s war to destroy Israel, is not rockets or tunnels. It was the pictures of dead civilians, especially children, allegedly targeted by Israel. The truth has been obscured by Palestinian propaganda, allegations of Israeli genocide, moral equivalency reportage. In a colloquium organized by the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, CIJR, to combat the Palestinian propaganda that resulted in Orwellian media bias against Israel, a stellar group of academics gathered Sunday morning at the Lodzer Shul for a colloquium titled, Israel, Hamas and the Third Gazan War.
Professor Aurel Braun pointed out Hamas’s successful use of propaganda and control of the media was so coercive, there was no objective reporting. A “pornography of war” he called it. Casualty numbers were inflated and most of them were men of military age. Gaza was an “open air prison”, they said. No mention was made of the shopping malls, hotels. luxury homes, hospitals – the over 600 millionaires with their air conditioned bunkers. “If Israel would have targeted civilians the war would have been over in hours,” he said.
Nor was it reported that Israel provides medical care and food, sending technicians into life threatening situations so that Gazans can continue to have free electricity.
“Cycle of violence”, “the ceasefire broke down” – the moral equivalence expressed in reporting the Hamas war is widespread in most publications. including the New York Times. “You can’t tell the difference between the fireman and the arsonist,” he told the audience.
Their propaganda made Israel a Goliath and Palestinians a David in the eyes of the world. “Since when did Israel become Goliath,” Prof. Braun retorts, “surrounded by 400 million Arab enemies with untold wealth.”
Professor Sally Zerker explains why when given Gaza in 2005, Hamas squandered an opportunity to have a flourishing country and chose instead to create a terrorist infrastructure with goal of killing as many Jews as possible. “The manifestation of genocidal anti-Semitism” Irwin Cotler called it, as expressed in their Charter. Money goes into the leaders’ pockets and into building armament arsenals, not into building the economy, she said. “A number of Hamas leaders became extremely wealthy; UNWRA money, donations, taking 20 percent of all goods sold.” Unemployment stood at 40 percent; 38 percent lived in poverty.
Their honour as Arab Muslims are shamed by the success of the Jews, dhimmis – inferior even to Christians, who won the 1948 war against Muslims and have a flourishing State on “Muslim” land. “This is impossible for the Arab mentality to accept. The war against the Jews can never end until there is Arab victory.” The honour/shame analysis explains why they would sooner die than make peace.
“Given their ideology, a continuing war till the Jews are defeated, they are not mad,” she said, “they are in the grip of a mad ideology that perpetuates the misery within.”
“But it is not Hamas that is the existential threat looming over Israel, it’s Iran,” said highly regarded journalist Lawrence Solomon. “Netanyahu looks at everything through the prism of Iran and it could happen later this year.” He is reluctant to retake the 5000 tunnels – Solomon calls the tunnels Israel’s “blind spot” -endanger soldiers – an undertaking that could take years.
He see the tide turning with public opinion more with Israel as more and more evidence of Hamas’s ruthless aggression and brutal treatment of its own people is revealed. One hundred and sixty children died while working on the tunnels. Scores of diggers were killed in recent weeks out of fear they would talk to Israeli security forces. For the first time the moderate Arab world is on its side against Hamas, also to counter Iran.
Both Zerker and Braun decried the lack of leadership from the Jewish community, especially CIJA with its “sha shtil aproach” which doesn’t work says Braun. “It’s all about exercising our rights as citizens. Israel Apartheid week, which is on 150 campuses now is hate mongering. There is a limit to free speech.”
“Sha shtill comes from CIJA,” declared Zerker. “It’s supposed to represent us ,it represents nobody. It’s a small group that were never even voted in.”
Professor Renan Levine attested to the fallout Jewish students felt from the anti-Israel invective on campuses especially leaving the cocoon of Bathurst St. “Cowardice in leadership,” said Prof. Braun. IAW goes unopposed.
k Even lecturers at the Faculty of Medicine under the guise of health, bash Israel. He was outraged to see a picture in the U of T newspaper during Pink Hijab week, of the President of Hillel posing in a pink hijab. “I don’t see them much on campus and when they are they are not effective.”
CIJR is an Israel and Middle East focused academic research centre, whose Academic Councils include professors from Canada, the U.S. and Israel. In the coming year they will be presenting Israel Learning Seminars for Torontonians. The seminars aim to counter the delegitimization of Israel and the rising tide of anti-Semitism.