May 21, 2021As an organization that stands in solidarity with Israel and has many Israeli employees, friends, and family members living across the country, this has been one of the most difficult periods since StandWithUs was founded 20 years ago. We write this to reflect on everything we have seen in recent days and weeks.StandWithUs is relieved that the fighting between Israel and the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas seems to have ended with a ceasefire. We extend our deepest condolences to all those who lost loved ones in Israel as well as to the families of Palestinian civilians killed as a result of Hamas terrorism. We see this conflict as a horrific tragedy for Israelis and Palestinians alike. More than anything, we join people of good will who yearn for a future of justice and peace, where all people in the region can be free of the genocidal racism, extremism, and violence of Hamas.We hope the shocking mob violence by Arab and Jewish extremists that occurred within Israel will lead to an even more powerful movement for coexistence. These outrageous attacks were condemned by Jewish and Arab leaders across the political spectrum, and many arrests have been made. Nevertheless, we know it will take time to rebuild the trust that has been lost.
Many governments, leaders, and activists around the world and across the political spectrum showed their solidarity with Israelis in recent days and weeks. Through rallies, on social media, and beyond, you stood with us and will continue to do so by attending the many rallies planned for this weekend to support Israel and oppose antisemitism. We know this isn't always easy or popular, and we are deeply grateful. Likewise, we are immensely proud of our dedicated network of staff and activists around the world who worked tirelessly to create powerful educational content and share it with millions globally. In the last ten days alone, our social media reach surpassed 100 million users. We are grateful to be in a position where we can provide so many people around the world with timely, accurate information.
At the same time, we are outraged that racist pro-Hamas "protesters" are now attacking Jews across the United States, Canada, Europe, and beyond. These hate crimes are the inevitable result of a deadly antisemitic virus, which has been spreading for decades under the guise of "antizionism." Never has the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism been more relevant and necessary to clearly identify and combat all forms of this bigotry against Jews. It should now be crystal clear that this is a crisis all people across the political spectrum must urgently confront, without blaming it on "the other side." There is never an excuse for promoting racist slurs on social media, assaulting Jews, or vandalizing Jewish communities. We are grateful for all the non-Jewish leaders and allies who are taking it seriously and fighting antisemitism with us side by side. Yet we are also shocked and dismayed by the inaction and complicity of so many others around the world. We hear your silence loud and clear, and it is dangerous and shameful. When any community is demonized and attacked in this way, it endangers all our societies as a whole.These antisemitic attacks do not happen in a vacuum. They occur amidst an onslaught of dehumanizing propaganda against Israel, actively promoted in universities, on social media, among various political movements, and beyond.
The Palestinian population has grown by millions since 1948, and Israel continues to provide thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza every day in spite of Hamas terrorism, yet Israelis are accused by some of being "Nazis." Historical and archeological records prove that Israel has been the homeland of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, yet Israelis are labeled by some as "colonizers." An Arab Muslim political party may decide who the next Israeli prime minister will be, yet Israel is slandered by some as an "apartheid state." This is far from the first time that propagandists around the world have aided Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians by twisting reality and manufacturing narratives that demonize and blame Israel alone for the conflict.Much of this propaganda is amplified by powerful dictatorships, such as Iran (the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism), Turkey, and Qatar. All these regimes fund and support Hamas. The purpose of their social media slogans is not to uphold the rights of Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity alongside Israelis. It is to erode the IDF's ability to defend its people, strip away Jewish rights to self-determination, and ultimately end Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state. If you listen to the widespread chant, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," and then look at a map of the region, there is no question that the goal is replacing Israel with an exclusively Palestinian state. People have every right to criticize the Israeli government and debate Israeli actions in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and elsewhere. We know the dispute in Sheikh Jarrah and other elements of the conflict will remain deeply controversial inside and outside of Israel. We are committed to factual and nonpartisan education about these complex issues.That said, there was never and will never be any justification for Hamas launching over 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians from Palestinian civilian areas since May 10, 2021. Even the UN, which has systematically discriminated against Israel for decades, unequivocally condemned these war crimes. Hundreds of Hamas rockets fell short in Gaza, and even anti-Israel NGOs acknowledged that many Palestinian civilians were killed as a result. Yet far too many celebrities, extremist politicians, and "influencers" chose to weigh in from thousands of miles away with blind condemnations and slander targeting Israel alone.Let us be clear: there is no moral equivalence between a genocidal, racist terrorist group committing war crimes and a democracy defending its citizens of all backgrounds. The narrative that Israel is to blame because it has more power is dishonest and morally bankrupt. The only reason Hamas has not succeeded in murdering hundreds, thousands, or even millions of Israelis is because Israel has the power to stop them. Those who demand a "fair fight" are cheerleading for a war in which Hamas would be stronger, and many more Israelis and Palestinians would die.Let us also be clear that every single Israeli and Palestinian life has value, and every innocent civilian killed in war is a terrible tragedy. We know that twelve civilians and one soldier were killed in Israel. We do not yet know how many Palestinian civilians were killed. This is because the Health Ministry in Gaza—the only local source quoted by media outlets thus far—is run by Hamas. The ministry reported a total of 232 deaths. The IDF said it killed 225 members of terrorist groups. This would likely mean that the total number of casualties is higher than Hamas claims. There is also strong evidence that the IDF consistently aimed at military targets and did not intentionally harm civilians. Fully accurate numbers may not come out for some time or may never be available, especially in regards to how many Palestinians were killed by Hamas rockets that fell short. None of this changes the very real suffering of civilians in Gaza, who have lost more than anyone from Hamas' endless war against Israel, driven by its genocidal mission. At the same time, attacking Israel while shielding Hamas from accountability can only prolong that suffering and make it harder to resolve this horrific conflict. Such one-sided approaches signal to Hamas that starting wars and committing crimes against Israeli and Palestinian civilians pays off, because the international community will respond by blaming only Israel. Ironically, every ignorant tweet, graphic, and political speech also signals to Israelis that they should ignore their international critics.Now more than ever, people are hearing and sharing Palestinian narratives on social media and elsewhere. We unequivocally support free speech and encourage people to learn about many different Palestinian perspectives. That said, anyone who wants to help resolve this conflict must also engage honestly and seriously with Israelis and their experiences.
Unfortunately, far too many people are not taking this basic step and commenting on the conflict from a place of ignorance. To all those who approach this issue with an open mind, we encourage you to reach out to us for educational resources. We will answer every question and never shy away from discussing even the most controversial issues.This dark chapter in the history of the conflict appears to be over for the moment, but no one can be sure what will happen next. For StandWithUs, this massive wave of terrorism, misinformation, and antisemitism has shown us the importance of our work and how big our challenge truly is. And yet, it has also strengthened our resilience and resolve to pursue our mission. We will continue to be relentless as we educate people of all ages and backgrounds around the world about Israel, hold Hamas accountable for its crimes, and fight antisemitism. Together, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome.Here are some key ways you can get involved:
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Thank you for your courage and continued support!With prayers for a true peace and an end to the virus of antisemitism,Roz Rothstein CEOStandWithUs