Thank you for participating in the briefing with the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC.
BBYO teens - at home, at camp and around the world - along with our friends from Camp Tel Yehuda-Young Judaea, the Diller Teen Fellows, NCSY, NFTY and NFTY Kutz Camp, USY and Young Judaea participated in the briefing with the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC to learn more about the role they can play in supporting Israel.
Q&A with Oren Marmorstein, Counselor for Academic and Public Affairs
- What is the mission of Operation Protective Edge?
Israel’s objective was and remains to restore peace and quiet: putting an end to rocket fire from Gaza on our cities, and providing the citizens of Israel with the security to which they are entitled. We are steadfast in our commitment to achieve this objective, whether diplomatically or militarily.
- From Twitter, @Elliottbds98: What is Hamas trying to gain from continuing rocket fire?
The Hamas objective is very clear: they seek the destruction of the state of Israel. They say it out loud: the Hamas Charter ("The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement") rejects all peace talks with the State of Israel and stresses the terrorist organization's commitment to destroy Israel through a long-term holy war (jihad) [articles 6, 13].
The 1988 charter is an overtly anti-Semitic text that includes myths directly lifted from "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" regarding Jewish world control, while the Jews are also held responsible for all world and local wars. This is a document which expresses Hamas' radical Islamic outlook and is still promoted as Hamas philosophy today.
You might have heard people using buzz words this week like ‘occupation’ or ‘settlements’ as reasons that Hamas is engaging in violence. But these references have no connection to reality: Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and not a single Israeli civilian or soldier remained on Gaza soil.
- What’s the difference between Israel and Hamas’s military and leadership?
Here’s the difference between Israel and Hamas: Israel uses missiles to protect its citizens, and Hamas uses citizens to protect its missiles. Hamas leaders call on Palestinians to stay in their homes, even when they know they will be targeted by the IDF, and act as a “human shield.” Hamas threatens Palestinians so that they will put themselves in harms way and not leave dangerous areas in an attempt to increase the number of civilian casualties, making Israel appear as though it is killing Palestinians indiscriminately.
Hamas violates international law by positioning rocket launchers, weapons stores, leadership facilities, command and control centers, communication facilities and other terrorist infrastructures among the civilian population of Gaza. The sites - and the sites of actual rocket launchers - are deliberately located in, near or under homes, schools, hospitals and mosques, leaving Palestinian civilians deliberately exposed to grave danger. Just yesterday, UNRWA found 20 Hamas rockets hidden inside a school. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has fired at least 100 rockets from Gaza that have landed within their territory, putting Palestinians at even further risk.
- From email, Zac in Plano, TX: On the IDF Facebook page, a good half of the comments support Israel and wish for peace. The other half laud Hamas for attacking Israel. As far as I know, as much as the media tells me, Israelis do not kill innocent people, and only put innocents in danger when necessary, but I also know that pro-Palestinian media tells readers the opposite. What do you think about this?
There is no military in history that has taken as many precautions to protect innocent civilians as Israel has. Israel delivers repeated warnings to civilians to vacate areas where terrorist infrastructure is located, and uses pinpoint technologies to hit only the intended targets. Yesterday morning, the IDF dropped leaflets in 14 areas in Gaza explaining where civilians should move for their safety. Even when a mission is crucial to our military, if a civilian is spotted in the vicinity of the target, the mission is aborted, sometimes putting our soldiers at risk. We are deeply saddened by both Israeli and Palestinian civilian casualties and we cannot stay indifferent in the face of such tragedy. Hamas’s deliberate tactics, which intentionally put Palestinian civilians in danger, make them responsible for these realities.
Israel is relentless in its search for peace and quiet. On Tuesday, Israel agreed to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, whereas Hamas rejected it and continued firing rockets at Israeli cities. The Egyptian Foreign Minister blamed Hamas, saying ““Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians.”
- What is life like in Israel right now? Where can I get the real story?
Israelis are suffering intensely. Even before Operation Protective Edge commenced, Israelis were frequently interrupted in their homes, in schools, or at work by a blaring red siren, which signifies that a rocket is being fired near them. In these cases they have only 15-90 seconds to run to the nearest bomb shelter. This has been life as usual over the past 8 years particularly in the south of Israel where over 1 million Israelis live. But in just the past three weeks, 6 million Israelis (⅔ of our population - including Israeli Arabs and Bedouins) are solely focused on their proximity to bomb shelters and are constantly at risk.
I just returned from visiting my family in Israel, where my 15 month old daughter, Danielle, continued to play with her toys to the background sounds of rocket fire. I cannot imagine what it will mean for my daughter to grow up in a world where this is business as usual.
To get the most authentic news and to have a better understanding of what life is like in Israel nowadays, you’ll need to get the stories straight from Israeli news websites. Check out some English language Israeli news sources like YNet, Jerusalem Post, and Haaretz.
- What does Israel’s decision to embark on a ground invasion mean?
Last night, Israel commenced a ground operation into the Gaza Strip aimed at targeting Hamas' tunnels that enable terrorists to carry out terror attacks. Hamas builds these terror tunnels close to Israeli communities in order to infiltrate and abduct Israelis. Hamas terrorists used such a tunnel to infiltrate into Israel yesterday morning in order to perpetrate a large-scale attack against Israeli citizens.
- From Twitter, @mtnspeakup: What can we do to help Israel and the IDF as Jewish teens in America?
The support of American young Jews is crucial to Israel’s survival. You are facing a challenge: most people don’t have all of the facts about the situation, some might not understand the importance of Israel both as a democracy in the Middle East and as a nation-state for the Jewish people, others might be influenced (as we all are) by the gruesome pictures coming out of Gaza. But you can make a difference: as people who love and care about Israel and as people who care about peace, to tell your peers the truth and frame it in a way they can understand. There are two important messages that could be useful to share:
1. Hamas uses the Palestinian population as human shields and operates to increase the number of Palestinian civilian casualties in order to create international pressure on Israel.
2. If ⅔ of the US population (200 million people) were under attack, what would you expect your government to do?
As Operation Protective Edge progresses, I encourage you to follow our social media outlets for up-to-the-minute information.
Twitter List: Israel Under Fire
Twitter: IDF | Embassy of Israel
Facebook: IDF | Embassy of Israel
To Learn More, visit:
Voices from BBYO Passport Experiences in Israel
"Being in Israel during such an crucial time in the nation's history has made this trip unforgettable. Although I have been to Israel several times before and have always been a passionate pro-Israel advocate, I have never felt so connected to the Jewish people or to our homeland. I am eternally grateful to BBYO for providing me with this incredible experience and to those who support and protect the state of Israel."
– Kyle Price, BBYO Westchester Region
“My connection has never been stronger to the state of Israel. I have attended AIPAC's Policy Conference and High School Conference. I have advocated to members of Congress and the Senate on behalf of Israel. But never have I had such a strong connection to this state than being here, especially during a stressful time. I have never felt such a strong need to stand up for this wonderful country, and a place I call my second home, then now. During ILSI, I have developed a strong passion to speak about and to stand up for my beloved home, Israel.”
-Scott Pergament, BBYO Nassau Suffolk region
“Being in Israel during such a harsh time has truly opened up my eyes. I have gained a deeper appreciation for the people behind the scenes. From Sunday School along with BBYO education I knew the IDF was good, but I had no idea how remarkable. For us to be able to travel through Israel without even the slightest concern is truly amazing. To see the State of Israel all rush to protect all types of people opened up my eyes to how united this country and the Jewish people are as a whole. I want to thank BBYO for allowing us to continue on our journey and trust the state of Israel. I now have a deeper connection to Israel along with all its people.”
-Nathan Jacob Rosen, BBYO Cotton States Region
“Despite the obstacles ILSI 2014 as a program has faced, I truly believe that these tense circumstances have dramatically deepened my connection to Israel. Before this trip, I only thought of our past and the struggles we, as a Jewish peoplehood, have had to endure to secure our homeland. But now I am living history and recognize that there is much more to do to keep Israel in our possession. I am leaving this program as not only a stronger Israeli advocate but a stronger Jew.”
-Bailey Dinman, BBYO Northern Region East: DC Council
You can continue to share your support on social media with #Teens4Israel.