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  • Writer's pictureAvi Abraham Benlolo

Confronting Media Bias with FACT - Myths and Facts Updated

Dear Friends: A vicious campaign is underway in both traditional and non-traditional media platforms including social networking to undermine and defame Israel with falsehoods. Below is a list of some of the month recent myths - countered with facts. Please share widely on social media and with your children.

Note: I have also included my original list of Myths and Facts below and will continuously update as new falsehoods are spread - Avi.

MYTH: There is a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

FACT: There is no moral equivalence between terrorists murdering innocent civilians and a sovereign nation defending itself against those terrorists. Hamas uses its citizens as human shields to protect their missiles. Israel uses its weapons to defend its citizens.

MYTH: Hamas provides safety for its citizens in Gaza

FACT: Nothing could be further from the truth. Hamas is a terrorist organization that masquerades as a supporters of Palestinians. In reality, its only interest is the destruction of the State of Israel. It uses international aid money to fund its military and build tunnels and rockets for the sole purpose of attacking Israel. It keeps its people down instead of building hospitals, schools and social welfare systems.

MYTH: Why is Israel occupying Gaza?

FACT: Israel vacated Gaza in 2005. It is not present on one square inch of Gaza. The Palestinians have every opportunity to build a viable and peaceful state. Israel has also relinquished control of most of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. It wants to resolve all land disputes through peaceful negotiations.

MYTH: Israelis don't care about Gaza

FACT: Israelis want nothing more than to have peace with all Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. They are saddened by the loss of life. However, they are unwilling to stand by while terrorists shoot rockets at our civilian population.

MYTH: Israel is committing genocide against Gaza.

Fact: No. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel has been operating carefully to clear out Hamas centers of operation, tunnels and rocket launching sites. Before bombing any location, it contacts civilians and informs them of the impending attack. Pilots have turned back from attacking military locations after seeing possible civilians in the area. Every life lost is tragic and the loss of innocents on any side is terrible. However, this does not rise to the definition of a "genocide" as the media and pro-Palestinian activists are portraying the issue. In contrast, for example, the same people who are calling this a genocide, have been silent on the genocide taking place in Syria where more than 500,000 people have been murdered by the Assad regime.

MYTH: Israel is being accused of ethnic cleansing.

FACT: Israel does not have a policy or intent for ethnic cleansing. It has not cleared any cities or locations of its residents. This is a myth being propagated by anti-Israel activists.

MYTH: Israel Does Not Want Peace in the Middle East.

FACT: No. The world was different just a few months ago. We were all celebrating peace throughout the Middle East. The Abraham Peace Accords was an historic milestone between Israel and its neighbours. For the first time in decades, Israel proudly came together with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco to forge ties. Even Sudan joined the agreement and Saudi Arabia was on the verge. Israel opened its borders and welcomed Muslims to the Holy Land. It cherishes its peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt and has sought peace countless times with the Palestinians. The Middle East can be a different place if Hamas stops its rocket attacks on Israel.

MYTH: Israel is part of a colonial structure. Jews and Israelis are colonizers.

FACT: No. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ancient ground in the holy land is laden with physical evidence of Jewish presence on the land over 3,500 years. There is no ancient physical evidence of Palestinians. The Dead Sea Scrolls, written partly in Hebrew and Aramaic are 2,000 years old; the Al Aqsa Mosque was built on top of the Jewish Temple Mount which was there 1500 years before; and the land from North to South is full of physical evidence of Jewish presence. The myth that Jews are colonizers of their own land is one of more offensive statements made on social media and by antisemites.

MYTH: Israel is an apartheid state.

FACT: No. Unlike its neighbours, Israel is a free and democratic country. Israel has a multi-party system that includes two major Arab political parties that have seats in the country's parliament. Arab citizens of Israel have full rights and entitlements to freedom as any other citizen. Israel is widely recognized for its respect for LGBTQ2 and women's rights. In a region where these groups have few rights and freedoms and gender-apartheid is especially practiced, Israel is an island of freedom.

MYTH: But Israel is so big and powerful.

FACT: Israel is the size of New Jersey. It is only 12 miles wide at its widest point. Its population is condensed mainly in the Greater Tel Aviv area, which is the center of the country. It is surrounded by hostile nations and groups - Syria and Lebanon in the North and Gaza in the South. The Palestinian Authority (which incites hate and violence) is on its West Bank. Meanwhile, terrorist group Hezbollah has bases in Lebanon and Syria with some 200,000 rockets pointed at Israel; while terrorist group Hamas is in Gaza.

MYTH: Israel is a racist state.

FACT: Like every other nation, Israel works hard to combat racism and intolerance. It promotes peace and co-existence. In fact, many Arabs, Christians and Druze serve proudly in the IDF and recognize Israel as their home. Arabs serve in many distinguished national services including as diplomats for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; as lawyers and judges and as doctors - working side by side with their Jewish counterparts. Unfortunately, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are working hard to disturb this peaceful tranquility.

Myth: Israel started this war by attacking the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

Fact: No. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel's constitution protects all religions and promotes religious freedom. Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Iran were inciting violence at the conclusion of Ramadan. There is documented evidence that the Palestinian rioters came prepared, even stashing rocks on the Al Aqsa compound. In fact, Hamas launched 7 rockets at Jerusalem before Israel lifted a finger at Gaza.

Myth: Israel is evicting Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.

Fact: No. Israel is not evicting anyone. This is a civil dispute that was being handled municipally by the courts for a long time. It is not a national state-sanctioned dispute. Essentially, buildings owned by Jewish families were seized by Jordan in 1948. Despite previous court rulings, Palestinians are refusing to return the property to its rightful owners - using this issue to ignite the violence we are seeing today. As it stands, the Supreme Court's decision is on hold until there is a de-escalation.

Myth: Hamas is a friendly organization. It's Israel that is oppressing Gaza.

Fact: No. Hamas is actually an organization designated as "terrorist" by Canada and America. Hamas is a radical Islamic group (like ISIS or Al Qaida) that is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (outlawed in many Arab states). Its main reason for existence is the destruction of Israel. Sadly, it has been oppressing its own population with an iron fist since 2006, when it violently occupied Gaza. Israel left the Gaza in 2005 to give the Palestinian people a chance to build an independent peaceful state.

Myth: This latest round of violence is because Israel is expanding settlement activity.

Fact: No. For nearly 30 years, Israel has been attempting to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. Each time, the PA rejects all overtures to try and create an independent Palestinian State living side by side peacefully with Israel. Recently, Israel agreed not to annex territories as a result of its peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Thus, this latest round of violence cannot be blamed on so-called "settlements".

Myth: Israel uses disproportionate force against Hamas and the Gaza Strip.

Fact: No. Hamas has now admitted that its powerful missiles are supplied by the Iranian government. To date, over 4000 rockets have been launched at Israeli civilian populations all the way into Northern Israel - demonstrating a growth of sophistication in weapons systems by Hamas. If it was not for the Iron Dome system, casualties and destruction in Israel would be much higher. Moreover, Hamas has also admitted that its military personnel have been trained by Iran's military and terror arm - the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). Hamas is equipped with Rockets, an armed military and navy and even drones to attack Israel.

Myth: But Isn't the Palestinian Authority the legitimate government of the Palestinians?

Fact: Even while the west recognizes the PA as the more moderate group in charge of the Palestinians, the PA has just cancelled its scheduled "democratic" elections. In fact, it hasn't held elections in 15 years. Western nations have been silent about the PA's lack of democracy and transparency. As importantly, the PA and Hamas do not get along and for all intents and purposes, are divided into two mini entities - both of which want to bring the other down and also seek the destruction of the State of Israel.

MythIsrael is blockading the Gaza Strip, making it difficult for Palestinians to survive.

Fact: No. Israel is allowing food and supplies into the Gaza Strip on a daily basis. It is also supplying the strip with water and electricity. However, because Hamas smuggles weapons and building supplies for tunnels to infiltrate Israel for terror attacks, Israel has to take every precaution to protect its own citizens. Interestingly, while Israel is blamed for a blockade, Egypt is never blamed despite the fact it controls Gaza's southern gateway.

Myth: Israel was looking for a conflict with Hamas and the Palestinians.

Fact: No. The reverse is true. Israel was completely unprepared for this latest round and has been pulled into a war it never asked for. As a result of the rocket attacks, it has had to defend its civilian population by bombing terrorist held targets in Gaza. Weeks before, to avoid a conflict, Israel even ignored the dozens of incendiary balloons Hamas deployed over the border to burn its crops.

Myth: The aid provided to the Palestinians through UNRWA reduces conflict with Israel.

Fact: No. Countries like Canada and the U.S. are providing millions of dollars worth of aid to the Palestinians through the United Nations Relief Works Agency. While this may be well intentioned, much of the aid reportedly helps incite hate against the Jewish state through its school curriculum. Some of the aid has been said to be diverted to paying for materials like concrete used to build attack tunnels. In the past, UNWRA has been accused of allowing its buildings to be used by Hamas militants to store and fire rockets.

Myth: Peace is not possible with the Palestinians.

Fact: No. Most Israelis and Jewish people around the world want nothing more than peace and good neighbourly relations with the Palestinians. Even while at rallies around the world, Palestinians call out "from the river to the sea Palestine will be free", we hold out hope that our peoples can live together. But first things first, Hamas must stop firing rockets at Israel. The Palestinian Authority must come to the negotiating table with the will and desire to make peace.

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Avi Abraham Benlolo, BA MA, Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa)

Order of Vaughan, Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal, Race Relations Award

ABOUT: Avi Abraham Benlolo has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights. He has dedicated nearly three decades in executive capacities, was founding President and CEO of a major organization in the Jewish community, has raised over $150 million for charities and is a leading voice in Canada. His academic research, graduate degree, Ph.D. coursework and nearly three decades of professional work has focused on these arenas in addition to peace and security in the Middle East. He has published hundreds of articles in these areas. In recognition of his national and international leadership in this area, he has received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate from a prestigious Israeli university for his work in Holocaust studies and combating antisemitism; an Order of Vaughan for his distinguished contribution to anti-racism, equity and diversity; the Queens Diamond Jubilee Award for his contributions to Canada and a race relations award for best practice, based on distinguished service in promoting human rights.

As a supporter of Israel, he is proud to have established "The Avi Benlolo Scholarship Fund in National Security" at Haifa University.

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