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The Israel-Palestinian Conflict In the Face of Constant Condemnation

by Sondra Oster Baras

Last week I met with a group of high school students from the US. They were part of a program in Denver, CO which exposes them to the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict.”  The director is a Palestinian-American.  She contacted me  and expressed interest in exposing her students to the “settlement” side of the issue.  While I assumed that these students were coming to Israel armed with assumptions that ran counter to my own reality, I agreed to meet the group.  I was not naïve enough to believe that I could change their opinions in the course of one hour but I felt that it was  important that they at least be exposed to our side of the argument.

The students were very well behaved and articulate.  We met in Efrat and there were three of us presenting the issues: the head of the Efrat Religious Council, who is an old friend of mine and a veteran, like myself, in advocacy for Judea and Samaria; my son, a rabbi and high school teacher in Efrat; and myself.  We each took turns presenting different aspects of our story and then left time for the students to ask questions.

I sat next to the program director who was very friendly when she arrived.  But as we presented our stories, I peeked at her, looking at her eyes behind her large sunglasses.  She was seething.  She remained quiet and did not interrupt our conversation at all but it was clear to me that she was very angry.  I am sure that as a Palestinian she was not happy with the way we were presenting our ancient connection and claim to the land, both from a religious, a historical and a legal perspective.  I wondered if she had ever heard our side of the story.  She had certainly never presented our side to these students.

Some of the students remained apathetic as the conversation continued. Some seemed hostile and some seemed genuinely curious.  When they stated as fact that our presence in Judea and Samaria contravened international law, I countered with a totally different interpretation of international law and referred them to legal scholars who have treated the subject intelligently and articulately.  One student questioned our refusal to consider dividing the land into 2 states: Jewish and Palestinian.  I explained that such a division had already occurred in 1923 when Jordan was created, that it had occurred again when Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria. But each time the Arabs were not satisfied and went after the part that was left to us.  The student then looked at me and said: “I never thought of it that way.”

And that was the one moment when I felt that maybe I had accomplished something after all.  I concluded with a plea to the students:  “Don’t believe everything you are told, or everything that the UN states or everything you hear on television.  Read and study the issues and then decide.”  As they left our meeting, one student asked me for my card so she could contact me and obtain a book I had recommended that would present these issues in a different way.

Much has been said about how Israel handles the PR war that is being waged against us, often quite effectively, by our neighbors.  When Arab terrorists and their civilian stooges marched towards the fence that separates Gaza from Israel, the IDF shot into the mob in order to prevent them from crossing into Israel.  When dozens were killed, the international media went into a frenzy, accusing Israel of murdering innocent civilians.  Israel looked very bad.

When fires rage all over the Negev as Arab terrorists in Gaza send burning kites and incendiary balloons across the fence, nothing is mentioned in the international media.  It was announced today that damage to cultivated fields and orchards reached close to $3 million, not including the damages to nature reserves and forests in the area.  But when the IDF responds to this dangerous activity, shooting at the fire balloon launchers in order to protect the lives and property of Israeli farmers and residents, the international media accuses Israel of war crimes.

I do believe that Israel can be doing much more to produce effective media material that combats the distorted way in which our activities are being portrayed.  But at the end of the day, there is a hatred for Israel that has taken hold of so many people all over the world and it is very hard to combat.  We write books and articles, produce films and blogs but are we convincing anyone?

There was one moment in my encounter with the students that brought home to me where so much of the problem lies.  We described our experiences with Arab terrorism and mentioned incidents where Arab youth threw rocks at moving cars.  One student stated that rocks were not a big deal — why the fuss? And I countered:  Rocks kill.  They believed that Israel had no right to arrest Arab teenagers for throwing rocks at Israelis and I said that these teenagers were murderers or attempted murderers.  I mentioned several cases where rocks thrown by Arab terrorists had killed children.  They were unimpressed.  But I didn’t care if I convinced them.  I just stated what I knew to be true: “They say that one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.  Well, I can tell you unequivocally — these are terrorists and I will do whatever it takes to protect our people, our families, our children.”

They had no answer to that.  But I knew that I had said what I needed to say.  I refuse to gloss over our reality and pander to a false ethic that will not allow a people to defend itself.  In the past few days, thousands of Syrian refugees have streamed toward the border with Israel.  With the exception of a few who require immediate medical attention, Israel will not let them in.  These refugees are our enemies.  They are members of a society who have been trained to hate us for decades.  Admitting them into our country is tantamount to national suicide.

There is an attitude today that has become all too prevalent in the west.  It denies the right of nations to defend themselves and to protect their unique and separate identities.  It denies the rights of a nation’s military and police to protect its citizens.  It denies the value of the state.

I am Jewish and my Jewish identity is key to who I am.  It is key to what my nation is and it is key to the existence of Israel.  We will not apologize for being.  We will not apologize for defending ourselves.  We will never tire of the attempts to seek peace with our neighbors but in so doing we will never deny who we are.  I am Jewish and I am proud of it. And if there are those who hate me because I am Jewish, so be it.  I will not apologize for who I am.

35 thoughts on “The Israel-Palestinian Conflict In the Face of Constant Condemnation”

  1. Thank you Sondra, this is well spoken. I’m glad you had the opportunity to challenge students with truth.

  2. Well said Sondra. The problem goes back to Arafat. Until then there was no Palestinian state but tell a lie long enough and loud enough and sadly, the world believes it. History relates that the word Palestinian was originally an insulting word used towards the Hebrews by the Romans during their occupation of Israel centuries ago.

  3. Hooray for you Sondra, I wish I could have been there to cheer you on. I am part Jewish on my fathers side and very proud of it.

  4. So proud of you Sondra . I love your articles and teachings you remind me of David standing bravely and without fear against the giants of the world,Shalom to you too and Israel.Our Heavenly Father always goes before us,

  5. You are speaking my mind Sondra.
    We are kindred spirits.
    And it is high time the Palestians stop playing the every lasting underdog role and start building a country.

  6. Sondra, thank you so much for your faithfulness in sharing the right of the Jewish people to their land. Keep up the good work and may Hashem bless your every work for His Kingdom. Shalom

  7. I am a practising Christian and I owe it to the Jews as my spiritual forebears, besides the land of Israel where the founder of our faith was born. it is to Israel that He shall return when His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, ready to judge those nations / individuals who have come against Israel. Who says there shouldn’t be a Jewish State? It’s where God’s Chosen People should be gathered to before Messiah Yeshua returns. Israel is the fulfilment of biblical prophecy confirmed by history.

  8. Sondra congratulations for having the courage to stand up for the right for Israel to live as a free nation. Thank you for enlightening me on the issue that the establishment of Jordan is already a two state solution. During the reign of King Solomon, Jordan would have been part of Israel. Shalom. Brian H Abrahams Qld. Australia.

  9. Hashem will protect Israel and will make it the leader of all nations when His due time has come. The promises contained in my Old Testament will be fulfilled: The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:1-4)

  10. Well done & well said Sondra! I am proud of you too & proud of all Jews! I too have come across the same sentiments as those US students here in Australia & even amongst Christian friends. I too speak the whole truth about what is happening in & against Israel. Some listen while others tell me I’m wrong or tell me I shouldn’t talk about religion. They can’t even grasp the reality of the issue, let alone the truth! Many of us pray for the Jews & Israel, please pray for us too as we attempt to get the real Jewish story out there! Blessings, Kim

  11. What a great day! What a hard day! We can not convince evil to see what is Holy! What does light have to do with darkness? But if only one student questions and “hears”, praise HaShem! Thank you for not apologizing! Keep the good fight!

  12. Good for you and good for the teacher who took her class to hear your point of view. That took courage. It seems to me you start from behind the eight ball as Israeli governments have been pleading to give away land “for peace” since 1967. Sometimes as with Gaza nothing is required of the Palestinians in return for withdrawal. It’s no wonder most people think Israel has no rightful claim to those lands when they don’t place as high a value on keeping them as those who want Jews out. It seems to me more about what Jews and Israelis want then anything else. If one removes Torah from the conflict than it truly is a contested area and both sides have narratives. When Jews are more united the rest or the world will follow, but as long as we are so divided those wishing to defeat us see an opening. Keep up the good work

  13. I totally agree with Sondra that as an Israeli you have all the rights that every other nation have when it comes to defending you homeland.
    I pray that Hashem will keep you safe and protect “THE APPLE OF HIS EYE”.

  14. It is written, HaShem gave to the children of Israel the Land from the wadi of Egypt to the Levanon , and from the great sea( Midditeranian) to the Euphrates river as an everlasting homeland . that includes Yudea and Shomron forever!

  15. Very interesting reading. I am so glad you had the opportunity to answer questions about Israel. We always only hear the bad about Israel. Thank you for your emails. I have been receiving paper news as well. Please save the postage. The emails are enough for me. Keep up the great work

  16. Well said Sondra. Bless you for standing so firmly. Your efforts are definitely not in vain.

  17. As you would know, Sondra, I stand firmly with your belief and your comments. Like way too many issues, changing an opposite view is almost impossible but there are many of us who are unmoved in supporting ISRAEL and definitely the communities

  18. Since visiting Israel, I can’t get enough Israel, it’s like not getting enough God. I am a Christian and I see in America we are having the cloak of prejudice more and more everyday. I pray for Israel and the world and know believers will overcome.

  19. Sondra Well said, we pray daily for the pulpits across our nation to speak G-d’s word with authority—enough of the lies. We stand firmly with Israel, Judea and Samaria, with pro-life and with marriage as G-d ordained it. Thank you for being a voice for truth. Israel will be standing when the haters are gone.

  20. Sondra, we hear you and we understand the times we are living in. We love our brothers and sisters in Israel and stand with you.

  21. Hi Sondra,

    be encouraged that you are changing perceptions. Even if one person gets a glimpse of the truth and resists the propaganda which invades our news, there is hope that many other people will in time also be better informed. We are so immersed in NZ with false news so it is most helpful to continue to hear real news from Jude and Samaria where you are all trying to live in peace with your neighbours and helping the land to prosper and communities to flourish for the good of all.

  22. Well spoken/written Sondra. I believe that the point you made about “nations being denied the right to defend themselves and to protect their unique and separate identities” is rapidly becoming a global issue and will come to bite the West in a big way unless there is a change in attitude. Israel has been denied that right since the six-day war. It is one thing being compassionate toward the suffering of refugees and another being forced to hand over house and home to someone who cares nothing for you or even wants to kill you in the bargain. I too am proud to be Jewish and for my stand on Israel’s right to exist and defend herself. Kol HaKavod! Keep up the good work!

  23. I stand with you and so proud of your courage and confident boldness in presenting/defending your Jewishness and your nation. God bless you!

  24. Thank you, Sondra for sharing this article. It is hard to change the minds and hearts of people who do not allow room for other people’s experiences with Israel and the battle to defend its land within its borders. But, as you shared there were students who did make room for your experiences. It can take just one spark of light to pierce the darkness. Remain strong and courageous, for the Lord God of Israel is your Strong Defender. I am a Believer in the same G-d, and pray daily for Israel. Shalom, Tamara

  25. Well said Sondra. May YHVH bless and keep you and make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
    Blessings to you and yours.

  26. I receive your Shabbat weekly emails, and have the book to go with them. I applaud you for just telling the truth how it is. I as a believer In Yeshua also believe in the Jewish roots and the right of the land of Israel to belong to the people of the land as is written from Genesis through. You may have heard of or know David Silva, he said something that has stayed with me for many years. Christians need to decide to stand and to be BC not PC. Biblically correct not Politically correct. I agree.
    Esme

  27. Praise God , you have put seeds of truth in these young minds. UN, EU and UK have forgotten history and have bought into the Palestine myth. Biblical, Historical, Archiologically and internationally Judea and Samaria is Israel’s Land. Israel should stop referring to it as West Bank. or occupied territory. God told Abraham to posses the Land. We are praying for you. “He that keepeth Israel neither slumber nor sleep”. Am Israel Chai. Patsy

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