In the face of virulent anti-Israel sentiment – as well as growing anti-Semitism throughout the world – truth is clearly not a defense, especially when people are not listening.
A case in point: JTA reported this week that the United Nations has backed off a claim that Israel struck one of its schools in Gaza, killing 43 Palestinians. Israel has said all along that its shells could not have caused the damage. Nobody listened. Indeed, it was that incident – and those images – that particularly horrified the world during the Gaza war, causing vitriolic criticism from U.N. officials and world leaders and dominating the headlines of major newspapers.
Now, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem says that the Israeli mortar shells landed in the street near the United Nations Relief and Works Agency school in Gaza and not inside the school, which was sheltering Palestinian refugees. Will we see new headlines? Not likely. Nor are we likely to see a headline quoting the teacher inside the school compound who last week told Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper that no one was killed inside the compound but rather outside it, on the street.
Since truth, or at least consistency, is so hard to come by, it was especially heartening to hear the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, reiterate that U.S. conditions for talking to Hamas “have not [changed] and will not change.” Clinton, announcing that special envoy George Mitchell will soon return to the Mideast, said Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and agree to abide by agreements that had been entered into by the Palestinian Authority – the same conditions she laid out at her Senate confirmation hearing last month.
We hope she maintains that position. The Jewish community needs friends, and it needs honesty. Anti-Semites don’t need excuses to hate, and we have seen the unfolding of disturbing events in Venezuela and throughout Europe. But those who hover on the edge – people who are not necessarily bigots but who have lost their jobs and then read about Bernie Madoff, people who don’t understand Mideast politics and read only of the actions of Israeli soldiers in Gaza but not of the unremitting missile attacks launched by Hamas against Israeli targets – may be swayed.
The newspapers that reported the so-called Israeli attack on the U.N. school probably didn’t distort the story on purpose. But let them now show their good faith by reporting the truth IN THE SAME-SIZED TYPE used to trumpet what we now know are lies.