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William’s Word From Judea

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‘My Truth’ Fights Back

Bill Mehlman

Other than shock, there’s no answer to the New York Times’ cartoon portrayal in its April 25th “International” edition of a blind Donald Trump, black kippa on his head, clutching the leash of a dog with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adorned with a collar bearing the six-cornered Star of David.

You’ve got a couple, three options here: Call for an explanation, an investigation and an apology for the anti-Semitic “tropes” dumped on the international sidewalk, or simply stop buying the paper. We’ve already gotten the “explanation,” i.e., “misjudgment” by some subeditor on the other side of the pond. The apology was a couple of days in transit but the Times really wanted us to know how deeply it regretted the unintended pain inflicted on its readers by the feral cartoon. As for an investigation, if there is one, it will probably be internal. At this writing, nobody of note has been fired.

If the “grey lady” is too big, or brittle, to bend the knee further – let’s say with more measured coverage of the Jewish State by its Jerusalem bureau — there are, thankfully, answers to some questions a level or two removed from the sacrosanctity of an institution that regards its every comma and semicolon as deathless contribution to the public record. One of its best examples in Israel is “My Truth,” a national fact-finding organization created by an IDF reservist in the wake of 2014’s “Operation Protective Edge “ It was launched the following year as an effort to collect signed statements and photo evidence attesting to the use by Hamas of human shields – men, women and children — among other human rights violations perpetrated by it and other terrorist groups arrayed against Israel. These “documented testimonies from dozens of former combat soldiers,”Jerusalem Post military affairs editor Anna Ahronhem submits, includes “several who had just recently finished their military service and had been posted along the Gaza border fence during the ‘March of Return protests.’”

If My Truth isn’t, inter alia, an answer in kind to “Breaking the Silence,” a Left-oriented Israeli NGO famed for its collection and exposure of anonymous “testimonies” from IDF soldiers regarding alleged “questionable orders in many areas, including the IDF’s treatment of Palestinian civilians,” it will have to do until something better comes along. Bountifully endowed by a bevy of public and private deep pockets – the EU and several of its individual members, the New Israel Fund, left wing church-related political groups, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation – BtS was charged by nine memberrs of the outgoing 20th Knesset in a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit of being in possible serious violation of the law in the questioning of its testifiers about what the letter called their “military training, deployment, military guidelines and plans, classified weapons and operations.” BtS has dismissed the accusations as “baseless lies” concocted by Ad-Kan, a right-wing settler organization in an attempt “to revive a failed political campaign against soldiers who expose the consequences of their service in the occupied territories.”

The accusatory finger of Breaking the Silence following Operation Protective Edge was, in fact, only coincidental to the emergence of My Truth. The truth about the IDF’s extraordinarily moral behavior before, during and after that conflict was shouting to be told and it was Avichai Shoreshan, veteran of the Golani Brigade’s legendary “Orev Special Forces Unit” who stepped up to the plate. Moreover, as Ahronhem observes, it was the international community’s unbalanced condemnation of Israel’s conduct in that defensive operation, more than anything else, that triggered Shoreshan’s action. “It wasn’t what happened in the operation but the reports that came out after,” she reports him remarking. “I can’t forget how they called us ‘war criminals.’ Two of my buddies died in the war, both of them because they tried to do their mission without harming civilians.” It was “my turn, Shoreshan declared, “to break the silence,”

He began by putting his own IDF story – “just the tip of the iceberg “ – on Facebook. Accompanying that was a call to other former combat soldiers who put their lives on the line in Judea, Samaria and more lately the Gaza border to follow his lead in what My Truth member Gilad Segal calls the “dirty war that has been forced on Israel by enemies who use their own women and children as shields. Shoreshan’s post was taken down by Facebook less than a year after he wrote it, but it was up there long enough to precipitate hundreds of responses from ex-soldiers and reservists. “It snowballed from there.” Shoreshan avers.

My Truth isn’t resting on its laurels; it’s vigorously spreading its wings. March found an MT delegationl in Geneva addressing a UN panel on Hamas’ employment of civilians as protective cover for its violent weekly assaults on the Gaza border fence. Flanked by representatives of NGO Monitor and UN Watch, MT’s Lital Shemesh, who still does her reserve duty with IDF Homefront Command, described the Gaza border protestors as “not people who want to have a cup of coffee with us. They want to destroy Israel. We are still fighting our war of independence,” she added, “while Hamas is shooting its own people who are rising up against them. I’m not asking you to stand with Israel, but to stand with the truth.”

In an effort to inject that serum into a Middle East narrative poisoned with falsehood and calumny. My Truth is reaching out beyond the bounds of diplomatic and political correctness to touch base with a millennial generation in America that will soon be putting its stamp on US foreign policy, most importantly its policy with Israel. In that endeavor, it has, among other things forged a priceless link with “Students Supporting Israel,” an organization making its presence and its agenda known on college campuses spanning the United States. It all got started in 2015 when an SSI delegation attended My Trut h’s first public event at Israel’s Afeka College. In the ensuing four years, SSI has hosted comeout parties for MT at a list of campuses that includes Columbia, Penn State, University of Georgia, Wake Forest, Mercer, University of Minnesota, DePaul, Duke, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Iowa,Texas A&M, St. Thomas University, Santa Monica College and UCLA. The list keeps growing.

Students Supporting Israel says it’s looking forward to sharing “stories, ethical dilemmas, and decision-making” with Israeli soldiers. “Bring My Truth to Your College,” is its call and it seems determined to spread that truth to every academic venue it can reach. My Truth appears ready to help that happen.

Bill Mehlman is an experienced, classic American journalist who, with his wife Sylvia, made Aliyah to Israel when he retired (after earlier extended stays in the Land). Since then he has spent twenty six years analyzing and describing political and strategic currents here and there.