Dear Friend of Israel,
When tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza marched to Israel’s border last Friday – on the first day of Passover – it was supposed to be a “peaceful” protest.
It wasn’t. Palestinians hurled stones and firebombs, and rolled burning tires at IDF soldiers. To defend themselves and prevent attackers from swarming over the border, the IDF fired. Sixteen protesters, ten of whom were known terrorists affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, were killed.
The criticism that came afterward was all too predictable. Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt decried Israel’s “disproportionate” use of force. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the U.N. continued to call the march a “peaceful protest” and condemned Israel for the deaths. A Palestinian Authority spokesman said that Israel was “directly responsible for this dreadful massacre.”
Of course, the march was co-organized by Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Hamas regularly carries out attacks on Israeli civilians, and doesn’t hesitate to put Palestinian civilians in harm’s way to further its goals of conquest. Could it be any more obvious that Hamas has no interest in “peaceful protest”?
Protests are expected to continue this weekend, with a different twist. As one Palestinian writer explained in a post on Twitter, march organizers are calling on Palestinians to burn tires to hide themselves in a smoke screen, and use mirrors to “disrupt the vision of Israeli soldiers.”
Smoke and mirrors – it sounds absurd, but it’s really quite fitting. The dictionary defines “smoke and mirrors” as “the obscuring or embellishing of the truth of a situation with misleading or irrelevant information.” That’s exactly what these protests are: smoke and mirrors to deflect the world’s attention away from Palestinian incitement and Hamas’ disastrous, oppressive rule over Gaza. Unfortunately, as we see by the response from the U.N. and many international news outlets, this tactic can be very effective.
The world may be confused and misled by smoke and mirrors – but true friends of Israel are not. We know the truth: Israel fights every day to keep her people safe against enemies who are anything but “peaceful.” Israel has built a society – and works every day to maintain it – where personal liberty and the rule of law are respected.
As Israel does what she must do to protect her people, we must continue to pray. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and that Israel and her people will be kept safe. And during this time of uncertainty, let us keep our minds fixed on God, remembering the words of the psalmist: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President