TheFridayReport: Brace! The Real Fight Has Just Begun
Avi Benlolo's Opinion Piece in Today's National Post
05/21/21: Dear Friend, welcome to TheFridayReport and Shabbat Shalom. It's been a long and exhausting week for everyone working in defence of Israel. Even while a cease fire with terrorist group Hamas takes hold, the defamation campaign has only begun. In the coming days and weeks, what we are about to see is a Hamas-PLO led propaganda war against Israel and the Jewish world.
Israel won the war without question. Hamas is decimated. Its buildings are toppled and its tunnels destroyed. Many of its terrorist leaders have been neutralized. Israel may have achieved some peace and quiet for the coming months and possibly several years. It's a temporary lull.
But today, Hamas lead terror chief who presides over the organization from his lavish home in Qatar declared that Hamas foiled Israel's recent successes at coexistence and normalization. He declared that his terror organization will continue to battle the Jewish state until the Al Aqsa Mosque is liberated. With that he incited a mini-uprising at Al Aqsa this afternoon following prayers.
No doubt, Hamas launched this war because it was feeling irrelevant. It wanted to upstage Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. And It was falling behind on recent advances whereby Israel was forging peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. Money was drying up as Israel expanded its peaceful engagement with countries in the Middle East. Peace is troubling for Hamas.
But worse, as I have been writing in the last ten months, Israel has been experiencing unprecedented levels of pluralism, diversity and co-existence. Everywhere you look, Muslim, Christian, Druze and Bedouin Israeli citizens are participating in Israeli society. They are practicing medicine and law alongside Jewish colleagues; they are high ranking officials in the Israeli Defence Forces and most telling, they are representing Israel's Foreign Ministry as Ambassadors, Consul Generals and diplomats.
Hamas inspired civil unrest inside Israel as a way to disturb and disrupt the growing level of tolerance. Sadly, it may have succeeded. Israel must now immediately and without delay engage in civil diplomacy with its Arab citizens to forge ties and mend grievances.
What Hamas and much of the Palestinian diaspora needed was renewed hate against Israel. It needed the nasty images of destruction so that it could raise more money for more weapons and to support the lavish lifestyles of its leadership. It needed to fuel the anger of the Muslim world.
In the diaspora, the fight against Israel was waning. Antisemitism on university campuses was losing steam. It was becoming unpopular. Worse, how could the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement work if Israel was now trading vigorously with its new Arab peace partners? Even Sudan revised its boycott campaign against the Jewish state and is now willing to trade.
Now, in the course of the next five years, what we will be seeing is a ramping-up of hate against Israel and the Jewish people all over the world. That antisemitic violence is already being legitimized and we are seeing it on the street. In Toronto, an elderly man was assaulted by a Palestinian mob. In Los Angeles two Jewish men were assaulted by another Palestinian mob. And in New York, patrons at a Kosher restaurant were accosted and spat on - while firecrackers were set off in the Jewish diamond district.
This week, I was sent a number of internal memos released by boards of education, universities and even a Crown Corporation. They are shocking. In each case, the memos had a subtext - insinuation that Israel was the offending party and was committing some kind of crime. These sanctioned memos from reputable organizations and companies are in effect, legitimizing attacks on Jewish people.
In today's National Post (printed on the front page), I questioned and critiqued so-called human rights advocates who talk about equity and diversity while supporting Hamas. Here is part of what I said:
"For all those righteous groups that are siding with Hamas-led Gaza, shame on them for their ignorance and complicity in evil. The Nazis did not hide their agenda to eradicate the Jewish people. Neither does Hamas. For anyone who professes to have expertise in equity, diversity and anti-racism initiatives to be ignorant of the mission statement and charter of Hamas — the Islamic Resistance Movement — makes them enablers of the anti-Semitism and hatred now levelled against Jewish communities worldwide. How could anyone who professes to promote human rights agree to the following statement in the Hamas charter: “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O’Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!”
For the full article please see https://nationalpost.com/opinion/avi-benlolo-echoes-of-the-holocaust-the-jewish-people-have-seen-this-movie-before
As a student of the Holocaust, what has always interested me is the process of getting to the Holocaust. In my university days, I relentlessly studied how it was possible for the Nazis to have the non-Jewish population comply in killing six million Jewish children, women and men. What I realized and all scholars of the Holocaust and genocide will tell you is that genocide is a process. It doesn't just happen.
Because Antisemitism had always existed in Germany and in Europe in general, Adolph Hitler was able to manipulate the public through propaganda, communication, education, advocacy and fear into believing Jewish people were subhuman and therefore deserved to be murdered. It was a systematic process starting from the early 30s to reduce Jewish people to the level of "vermin" or "rats" in the eyes of the German public.
Most people did not see it coming. Even the Jews of the time thought it was just another antisemitic episode. But the same is happening today. My article is a warning to both the Jewish community and the non Jewish community. I wrote:
"If history repeats itself, it’s repeating itself here and now. The Jewish people have seen this movie before. The media turns against them, propagandizing false narratives: Israel is attacking Gaza. Israel is committing genocide. Israel is occupying Palestine. Israel is blockading Gaza and committing ethnic cleansing".
Of course, none of this is true. It is propaganda made to incite hatred against the Jewish state and the Jewish people. It is meant to slowly erode public confidence of Israel and disturb any chance for peace or co-existence. This will be the fuel for the next generation of students in universities and for institutional policies that profess anti-racism frameworks.
As someone who has studied anti-racism pedagogy and has practiced it and created curriculum and programs around it, I am disturbed by this radical antisemitism that is increasing from the regressive left. Instead of advancing human rights and recognizing terrorism, the left is actually defending it, at least when it comes to Israel and the Jews.
Jewish communities are preparing. Today, along with several community leaders, I was on a call with the Chief of Police. Together we are working on plans to advance the safety and security of the Jewish community. Earlier in the week, I reached out to leaders in the Pro-Palestinian community to try and mitigate the friction and stop the violence.
But Jewish communities in nearly every city are convulsing from an explosion of antisemitism online and in person. I have advised untold numbers of young people how to handle threatening posts against them on social media. Worse, one Jewish young person was told to leave a place of business because he identified himself as a supporter of Israel.
Sadly my friends, with more anti-Israel rallies underway, this is only the beginning of another wave of hostility against our communities around the world. We have to be on guard. These are dangerous perilous times.
As a believer in advancing peace, my inclination is to keep advancing it for the benefit of all peoples. We have to keep searching for peace and advancing this hope. As Theodore Herzl made us believe when he said, "If you will it, it is no dream". I believe that while we must be cautious, we must also be dreamers. Dreams can become a reality and that would be a good thing for everyone.
- Shabbat Shalom, Avi
p.s. I would love to have you in this forum. Please subscribe on the home page at www.avibenlolo.org AND also forward this article to your distribution list.
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.