Who Knows Israel Better Than Israelis?

By Gal Sitty, February 6, 2012

By Gal Sitty

This weekend, the anti-Peace Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement (BDS) held its 2012 National Conference at Pennsylvania State University. A central tenant and slanderous claim of this ill-intentioned movement is that Israel practices “apartheid,” the system of legalized, institutionalized racial discrimination that existed in South Africa.

Odd then that as I write this in a coffee shop in central Israel with Arab Israelis sitting at the table next to me and Sudanese employees in the kitchen. Earlier I heard the loudspeaker from a nearby Mosque broadcasting the call to prayer. All the road signs here are written in Hebrew and Arabic (in fact, Arabic is an official language of the State of Israel). Walking down the street I hear Arabic, on TV there are many Arabic language channels. So does BDS’ definition of apartheid mean that Jews, Arabs (both Muslim and Christian) and other minorities are all treated equally and enjoy more rights and freedoms than in any other country in region?

321878808 300x210 Who Knows Israel Better Than Israelis?When fabricated images of supposed IDF soldiers, such as the one on the left, are circulated and people believe them to be true then perhaps it comes as no surprise that many hold a false impression of this tiny, far away country that most have never visited. That is why I extend an invitation to all to come here and see Israel in person before misjudging this magnificent country.

An old adage says that when you repeat a lie enough times people may start to believe it, no matter how ridiculous it may sound. This photo is a perfect example to illustrate that point. With just a quick glance one can easily see that this photo is a fraud. The soldier is not wearing an IDF uniform; the gun is an AK-47, the IDF uses M-16s and M-4s; and perhaps more subjectively, the girl does not appear to be afraid at all. Despite these glaringly obvious discrepancies many people fell for the deception simply because of the false narrative that anti-Peace organizations continually espouse against Israel.

Indeed, recently I had the pleasure to speak with several people who despite previously holding negative or even hostile views of Israel, quickly changed their minds after spending a few short days here. Travelling around the country, meeting IDF soldiers in person, meeting Arab Israelis, visiting the holy sites, etc. showed them that while this is definitely a very complex country, it is definitely not apartheid and it is not racist.

These former skeptics all saw that Israel faces very difficult circumstances and real threats. While it may not always have the best response to its challenges, it operates with the best intentions (for peace) and performs better and with more humanity than most any other country in the World (I mean honestly,Israel’s neighbor Syria is slaughtering its own civilians to the tune of no less than 20 a day).

Of course I realize that not everyone has the opportunity or ability to come to Israel, so I have one further suggestion to offer when trying to understand the “real” Israel. Organizations like BDS and other self-proclaimed “pro-Palestinian” groups spend the majority, if not the entirety, of their efforts demonizing Israel rather than promoting peaceful solutions or coexistence. Pro-Israel organizations, such as Act For Israel, bring you real stories from Israel, never demonize innocent Palestinians and warmly embrace the internationally recognized method for a negotiated two-state solution to end decades of conflict. With this in mind, would you trust anti-Peace organizations who openly and regularly use vile and slanderous language to constantly attack those they disagree with or would you trust organizations that accept international law, a two-state solution and openly advocate for peace, equality and freedom for all.

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