When the International Olympic Committee recently denied recognition of 11 Israeli Olympians murdered during the Munich Games in its opening ceremony, and Mitt Romney’s ad campaign dinged President Obama for not visiting Israel during his term, many turn to grassroots pro-Israel organizations to assess the damage. I can speak candidly on this as I am a Founder of one: Act For Israel.
While the snub from the IOC was agonizing and in poor taste, we are grateful and continually inspired by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, who paid tribute to the Israeli Olympians murdered in the 1972 Munich Olympics, calling it one of the darkest days in the Games’ history. Tireless pro-Israel, grassroots groups including CIF Watch launched a 1 Minute for Munich campaign to request recognition for these beloved and unforgotten athletes. Act For Israel along with many others supported this effort.
As pro-Israel advocates, we have a laundry list of concerns regarding Israel and its well-being, though I will touch on the most immediate and concerning within our tight-knit community.
- Iran’s perilous race to become a nuclear power – This is an ongoing concern felt around the world for obvious reasons. Iran is the most active state supporter of terrorism worldwide, and Israel has infinite reasons to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability – with the United States being second. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been very vocal about how he wants to eradicate Israel, which he often likens to “cancer.” The repressive Iranian leader has often used colorful yet childish rhetoric when describing Western countries, and in doing so has dubbed the U.S. the big devil and Israel the little devil. Those who underestimate Iran as a global threat are kidding themselves. Any country that threatens annihilation of a country then claims it's making medical isotopes (secretly underground) while refusing access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency has run afoul. If Iran gets a nuclear arsenal, you can expect the rest of the Middle East to follow suit. No sane country wants to see that nuclear tinderbox come to fruition.
- The PA’s déjà vu move to gain unilateral declaration at the UN – The Palestinian Authority is and has always been a bad faith negotiator. They have walked away from talks after a measly three weeks, and continue to use construction as both a precondition and an excuse not to return to the table. They continue violating the Oslo Accords, and then claim Israeli intransigence stalemated negotiations when this is an egregious lie. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says one thing to Western media and diplomats (that he wants peace) and another to the Arab media and diplomats (that he’ll never agree to peace). World perception has become so skewed that Palestinians are now seen as somehow entitled to everything they demand - whether by virtue of "historic injustice," "decades of suffering," or combinations of complaints developed since the Arab Higher Commission refused partition in 1947. The fact remains the suffering of individual Palestinians, whose plight under the PLO and Hamas is riddled with a list of human rights abuses miles long, has become subverted into a highly propagandized and weaponized national suffering.
- Piercing the “Right of Return” myth – It’s a well-known fact that Fatah (Abbas’s party) and Hamas share the same mission, which entails not agreeing to peace until all of Israel becomes Palestine. This is currently known as the “phased plan,” and it is based on flooding Israel with 5 million plus Palestinians, drastically changing the national character of the Jewish state over time to a predominately Arab-Palestinian state. This is exactly why the “Right of Return” came into play, and it’s why Palestinian leaders wear it like a second skin. It is the one delusion that embodies Palestinian national identity, and the one colossal lie that keeps peace from occurring and Palestinians from making progress.
- Requesting the U.S. Congress to calculate the REAL number of Palestinian refugees – Regardless of whether you’re a democrat, republican, libertarian or independent, most allies of Israel can discern the value of calculating who is really a Palestinian and who is not. There are many reasons to accurately assess this burgeoning population estimated to balloon to 15 million by 2050 when the current calculation of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war total about 30,000. Act For Israel’s Action Alert supports Senator Mark Kirk’s watershed amendment to H.R. 5857 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act, 2013.
- Ending incitement, delegitimization and violence – Palestinians teach their children that Israel is their birthright, and they indoctrinate their youth at a very young age to hate Jews, Israelis and Israel. This concerted effort of delegitimization is also why many Middle Eastern countries leave Israel off their maps. The UN’s UNRWA has been just as guilty in this department by developing odious textbooks that incite Palestinians against Israelis and Jews and by promulgating the notion that Palestinians should take back Israel by any means. It’s also why UNWRA has failed miserably and turned itself into one of the world’s largest welfare agencies, pocketing $4.4 billion in U.S. tax dollars since it was founded in 1948, with deplorable results. UNWRA has allowed incitement to stay alive and well. Its Deheishe Palestinian Refugee camp proudly displays a mural of the first female Palestinian suicide bomber while its Aida Palestinian camp displays a giant key at its entrance signifying Palestinians still hold the key to their “rightful property” in Israel. Could you imagine the bloody carnage California and Texas would face if Mexico’s government indoctrinated their citizens the same way?
- Ending the barrage of missiles, bombs, and suicide attacks from Gaza & the Sinai – It’s not uncommon for dozens of rockets to reach Israel from Gaza or the Sinai on regular basis. Since June 17, 2012, over 150 rockets have hit southern Israel. Groups responsible include Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, DFLP, PRC, Ansar al-Sunna, Force 17, Army of Islam, Tawhid wal-Jihad, and Abdullah Azzam Brigades. With this many terrorist factions firing mortars, qassam (made of steel and developed by the military branch of Hamas), al-Quds (homemade), katyusha (first built and fielded in the Soviet Union) and grad (Russian) rockets, one would think any ally of Israel would understand that security and safety of Israelis can never be underestimated.
- Ending the hypocritical, antisemitic Durban Review Conferences – Enough said.
- Encouraging the U.S. to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The U.S. considers Israel one of its staunchest allies so it only makes sense that the U.S. would also publicly recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Pro-Israel advocates strive for this acknowledgement. Yet administration after administration has kowtowed to political pressures from anti-Israel factions, and has kept the US embassy in Tel Aviv.
- Rebuilding Israel’s relationship with Egypt – Israel has enjoyed a peaceful and prosperous trading relationship with Egypt since signing their joint 1979 peace treaty, which has since degraded somewhat since the Arab Spring and the subsequent expulsion of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Israel will continue efforts to strengthen its relationship with Egypt, as both countries have mutually benefitted from peace economically, socially, and security-wise. This relationship was tested just last Sunday with yet another terrorist attack. The question remains: Can Egypt love its people more than it loathes Israel?
- Ending “Israel Apartheid” and other delegitimization campaigns on U.S. campuses – Imagine if a college held an event where the core message was to boycott all fifty plus Muslim countries. The outrage would be astronomical, and rightly so. Yet ongoing messages of hate toward the Jewish state are met with yawns. We have not seen this kind of malice towards any other country, and expect all universities to have strict policies of denying vile and spiteful events on campus. There is no excuse for any U.S. university (or any university) to host an “Israel Apartheid” event, delegitimization activity, or invite any anti-Israel speaker on campus.
- Ending all BDS activities against Israel – BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) was a tool the Nazis used against Jews in the 1930’s. Those who launch, engage, support, or promote BDS activities against Israel yet remain silent about genocide in Syria (we have witnessed many Palestinian groups engaging in this heinous behavior the last two years) are hypocritical and inhumane. There are groups like Stand With Us that have made the eradication of BDS part of their mission, and we in the pro-Israel community consistently recognize their standout efforts to educate and teach pro-Israel awareness on college campuses and beyond.
- Syria’s outright genocide of its people – No people, no matter what they believe or who they share allegiance with should be persecuted and butchered. This is the second year Syrian President Bashar Assad has conducted a genocidal campaign against his own people, murdering 19,000 plus and counting. Pro-Israel advocates have kept this genocidal issue of Syria alive, and have voiced our disdain for the lack of action from the UN, the Arab League, the failed 6 Point Peace plan by UN Envoy Kofi Annan, and the international community as a whole. We feel for the Syrians’ plight, fear for their well-being, and will continue to alert the world to end this genocide.
- UN Reforms that include reversing all efforts to condemn Israel – When the UN Human Rights Council elected one of the world’s worst dictator’s to Chair their Council –– former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi –– and he nearly snagged an award for his efforts in human rights (LOL), we have learned not to expect much from the UN. What we don’t expect is the singling out and disparate treatment the UN has given Israel for decades. Oddly, the UN Human Rights Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than all other states combined. This includes passing over countries that have committed the most appalling human rights abuses to date (including genocide) or those that consistently deny the most basic freedoms to its citizens. The fact remains between the Arab states (22 countries) which are part of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (56 countries) and the Non-Aligned Movement (118 members) –– all of whom vote against Israel irrespective of the facts –– prove a clear bias to Israel is commonplace. This must change.
- Electing a U.S. president who supports (and visits) Israel – Lastly, we all want our president to be pro-Israel enough to visit Israel during his or her first term. We expect the leader of the free world to understand it is tantamount to national suicide for Israel to return to its 1967 borders. With Hezbollah to Israel’s north and Hamas, the PA and myriad terrorist factions to its Southwest – not to mention a destabilized Egypt, a maniacal Iran and a genocidal Syria - 1967’s threat level pales in comparison to realities on the ground today. We expect our POTUS to understand the Right of Return is a myth based on historical falsehoods, and that continued coddling of it keeps the Palestinian population incited while threatening Israel as we know it. Isn’t time our president and our State Department recognizes the capital of Israel is Jerusalem? We certainly think so. And Romney already has.
There is no question that Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East, and it is the only Middle Eastern country which shares our foundational values of freedom and democracy. Without continued pressure on the issues identified here (and unfortunately many more), we may soon see dramatic changes in the Middle East that will irreparably harm our national defense. As Americans, it is our duty to ensure that Israel remains free, strong and secure.
Jennifer Hanin is an Act For Israel founder & executive editor, and author of Becoming Jewish.