What could be more Jewish than compassion? Are not the Palestinians in Gaza suffering? Should Jews not know about this and empathize with it? Does our tradition not say that if a Jew lacks compassion, we must suspect a flaw in his lineage?
This, on the surface, is the plea of the organization IfNotNow. This organization has convinced certain Jewish summer camps that they should alter their curriculum to include compassion for the Palestinians of Gaza, most of whom suffer. (We say “most” because the leaders in Gaza, the leaders of Hamas, commandeer foreign aid for their own lavish lifestyle.) If compassion, and compassion alone, were the sole agenda item of IfNotNow, then a nod to the suffering in Gaza would make sense.
However, the agenda of IfNotNow is essentially not about compassion. By its own self-definition, IfNotNow is not unified in rejecting the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement and is not unified in affirming Israel’s right to exist. Sound familiar? Hamas also does not affirm Israel’s right to exist, even as it, too, has a minority faction that argues for Israel’s right to exist but exerts no moderating influence over the terrorist activities of the organization.
For IfNotNow to claim not to be “unified” on Israel’s right to exist is a meaningless qualification. It does not shield the harm that IfNotNow engages in.
Hamas fires rockets at Israeli civilians. Hamas hides its armaments during wartime in hospitals, thus transforming these places of compassion into military targets with the express aim of inviting harm to its own people for PR purposes. IfNotNow will not affirm Israel’s right to exist, since it is not “unified” on the question. This means that IfNotNow does not affirm Israel’s right to self-defense against the immoral practices of Hamas.
Yet, IfNotNow is the organization that some Jewish camps have allowed to change their curriculum. Compassion, yes; but the agenda of IfNotNow is something else entirely: “the Palestinian narrative.”
The Palestinian narrative means:
• Israel is at fault for existing.
• Israel has no right to self-defense.
• Israeli territory not conquered in the defensive Six Day War of 1967 — such as the territory of southern Israel just across from the Gaza border — is a legitimate target of attacks by Hamas.
• Israel, within any borders, is a “catastrophe.”
This is the narrative that IfNotNow wants to bring to Jewish camps. In wishing to teach the Palestinian narrative in Gaza to Jewish camps, IfNotNow aligns itself with those who wish Israel dead — because, under the Palestinian narrative, Israel never deserved to come into existence in 1948 to begin with.
So much for IfNotNow’s philosophical stance. In practical terms, BDS forces around the world try to undermine Israel — to cut off its exports, to coerce singers and other entertainers not to perform in Israel, to coerce athletes not to compete against Israelis, to condemn Israel at the UN and to isolate Israel in other international forums.. IfNotNow is not “unified” in condemning BDS.
IfNotNow projects the neutrality about which Elie Wiesel so famously said: “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”
Israel is the victim of unprovoked missile attacks on its civilians by Hamas, the oppressor. Hamas is deemed a terrorist organization by the US State Dept. and many others because of Hamas’ missile attacks on Israeli civilians; because of Hamas’ use of hospitals as a favored spot for its civilians during war time; because of Hamas’ extra-judicial killings of Palestinians; because it digs terror tunnels; because of Hamas’ declared aim of destroying Israel.
When it comes to evil, such as Hamas, there is no “ununified” stance that is moral.Wiggle and squirm as it might about not being “unified” in rejecting Hamas, IfNotNow, in word and deed, supports those who would destroy Israel and do harm it.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing does not belong on the curriculum committees of Jewish summer camps.
Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News