By Jonathan Hoffman
November 15, 2012
I want to welcome you all to this great show of support for our brothers and sisters in Israel who are yet again forced to confront those who deny their very right to exist. Throughout its 64 year history Israelis have had to defend the State from those who would deny it the right to exist. In 1948; in 1967; in 1973; in 2008 and 2009 in Operation Cast Lead; and now in Operation Pillar of Defence.
And just as before, our enemies will not succeed. Am Yisroel Chai.
We stand here representing the UK. We have among us Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists and probably lot of others as well. We are the Zionist Federation, the JNF, Christians for Israel, Muslims for Israel, Britain Israel Coalition, Likud-Herut. Thanks to the ZF for organising so quickly.
We come from many different backgrounds but we are united in our devotion to Israel and in our conviction that Israel has the right to defend its citizens. We will never allow Israel to fall victim to the same murderous terrorists who killed 52 Londoners on 7 July 2005.
More than 900 rockets have been fired on Israelis living in the South of the country since the beginning of the 2012. Since last Saturday November 10th more than 120 rockets were fired before the launch of Operation Pillar of Defence yesterday. They even hit a children's petting zoo. More than 900 rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians in 2012, compared to a total of 653 for the whole of 2011, and 238 for all of 2010 - less than one third of the total so far this year.
Over 1 million Israelis live in the range of the rockets and their lives are threatened with every launch. Daily life in southern Israel has been totally disrupted.
On Saturday night an anti-tank missile was fired at an IDF jeep traveling on the Israeli side of the border fence. Four IDF soldiers were injured.
No government can tolerate such a level of threat to its population. Israel has shown unbelievable patience but at some point it had to act.
Of course Jeremy Bowen says that Operation Pillar of Defence is just an electoral stunt and nothing whatsoever to do with rocket threats. This is what he wrote on the BBC Website:
But there will be questions about the timing of Israel's action. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called an election in January. In the past, military strikes have been used to send messages about the toughness of Israeli leaders.
Jeremy Bowen is wrong – isn’t he?
He is about as wrong as the Newsnight Programme which led to the accusation of Lord McAlpine as a paedophile. He is as wrong as the Newsnight editor who dropped the investigation of Jimmy Saville. He is as wrong as the BBC Director General George Entwhistle who screwed up and walked away with £450,000, twice the amount to which he was contractually entitled.
I have news for Jeremy Bowen. Israel was around long before he was born and will be around long after he's gone - and long after the BBC is gone.
Israel’s leaders would NEVER sacrifice human life merely to win an election. My friends, Operation Pillar of Defence would have happened regardless of the timing of the next Israeli election.
Even the British Foreign Secretary William Hague has shown how wrong Jeremy Bowen is. He said today that the terrorist group Hamas bears "principal responsibility" for the military operation Israel is now conducting in Gaza. He said he "utterly condemned" the rocket attacks by Hamas on southern Israel.
This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza," he said. "The rocket attacks also risk worsening the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which is already precarious.
Yesterday Israel targetted Ahmed Jabari, Hamas’ military chief in Gaza and an arch-terrorist. Jabri was directly responsible for financing and executing terror attacks against Israel. In 2006, Jabari masterminded the attack that led to the murder of Israeli soldiers and the capture of Gilad Shalit. As head of Hamas' negotiations team, Jabri prevented the release of Gilad Shalit for over five years. Jabri had close connections with Sheikh Yassin. From 1982 until January 1995 Jabri was arrested and imprisoned in Israel. During this time he joined Hamas, serving as the representative for all Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in his prison. Jabri regularly used antisemitic incitement to urge the destruction of Israel.
And those of you who have seen the footage of Jabri’s killing will have noted how careful the IDF was to minimise harm to civilians around the car. Israel is ALWAYS careful to minimise harm to civilians. Israel drops leaflets and even makes phone calls to watrn Gazan civilans to stay well away from Hamas terrorists. In Operation Cast Lead there was an unprecedentedly low civilian casualty rate. While males over age 15 make up approximately 25 percent of the Gaza population, they made up over 74 percent of the fatalities.
Israel has the most moral army in the world. Those words are not mine. They are those of Colonel Richard Kemp, the former British Commander in Afghanistan. In a recent speech to IDF soldiers in Tel Aviv, Richard Kemp cited a United Nations study. Yes United Nations. That study shows that the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in Gaza was by far the lowest in any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare. The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed.
That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one.
In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia.
In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.
Hamas targets civilians. Israel targets terrorists. That is the difference.
My friends the days ahead do not promise to be easy. But we will be steadfast in our love and support fro the people of Israel.
There is a lot you can do in the days ahead. You can speak out at injustices in the media – especially the BBC. Last night the BBC – to its credit – interviewed our friend the wonderful Jonathan Sacerdoti of the Institute for Middle East Democracy. But during his interview they showed scenes of the attacks in Gaza. But they were not careful enough. We saw a great example of what has become known as “Pallywood” – or acting for the cameras. It’s on You-Tube. You see a guy in a black sweatshirt writhing on a stretcher at 2.12 in the clip. Then by 2:43 – miracle of miracles – he is walking – he has made an incredible recovery!
Chaverim -- In the days to come there will be two conflicts – the one in Gaza and Israel and the one in the media.
You can put Israel’s case on social media. Don’t leave Twitter to the Forces of Darkness. Search for hashtags #Gaza and #Israel and stay up to date by following @IDFspokesperson.
In mainstream media you can write to make Israel’s case. You can phone in, eg to LBC, BBC World Service and Any Answers on the BBC. The Forces of Darkness will be doing it, we must too.
You can write to your MPs and to the Foreign Office - Please emphasize how Israel’s targeted attacks are in response to the rocket attacks that have come from Gaza over the last few days. The Forces of Darkness will be doing it, we must too.
You can come to see the Batsheva Dance company at Sadlers Wells next week. The dancers have families in the IDF and in the south of Israel - Come and support them!
We wish the IDF every success, we pray for the safety of all Israelis and we hope that as few as possible civilians in Gaza are harmed. As for the media conflict – that’s up to us to win. We will not let Israel down .. we will not let Israel down …. will we?
Am Yisroel Chai …
Here's the JC's report on the 250-strong pro-Israel demo:
And Richard Millett's: