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Stand With Israel
 
By KARL GROSSMAN
Jewish World
 
“We believe education is the road to peace,” said Avi Posnick, regional coordinator of the organization StandWithUs. “We feel it is very important that people learn about the reality of Israel and become effective educators for Israel and the Jewish people.”
 
Posnick was speaking at The Hampton Synagogue on July 25 in a program titled “Defending Israel” that was organized by the East End Jewish Community Council.

StandWithUs was founded in 2001 to help people respond to misinformation being used to attack Israel. Based in California, it now has 12 chapters and offices around the world, including one in Manhattan, where Posnick, a Yeshiva University political science graduate and an Oceanside native, now works.
 
Some 35 people were at The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach to hear him speak and to watch a film, Hate Speech on Campus, about attacks on Israel on college and university campuses. A main focus of StandWithUs, explained Posnick, is to help organize responses to such anti-Israel events. Further, its campus team seeks to function proactively and organize events that provide the “reality” concerning Israel and the situation in the Middle East. The idea is to “set the agenda” and not simply respond to verbal attacks on Israel.

Posnick said many anti-Israel groups have been attempting to “delegitimize” Israel, especially on college and university campuses because “students have been the ones who make big differences historically, and they want to reach out to the next generation of leaders and influence them now by indoctrinating them with lies.”This anti-Israel drive has been increasing in recent times with a call for the imposition of sanctions against and a boycott of Israel, he noted.

StandWithUs also works at high schools, conducts conferences, publishes brochures, runs missions to Israel and makes visits to synagogues. It has a speakers program as well as a Web site full of information (www.standwithus.com). “We strive to ensure that Israel’s side of the story is told on university campuses and in communities, the media, libraries and churches around the world,” the Web site states.

As an example of how supporters of Israel can use information to counteract verbal assaults, Posnick spoke of the most recent incident for which Israel has been criticized — the interception of a ship in the “flotilla” that sought to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
 
The claim has been made, noted Posnick, that those on the ship were “peace activists — and how could Israel do this if they were peace activists? Well, why did they have weapons? Peace activists don’t carry weapons. Why didn’t the ship go straight to port at Ashdod, to be inspected for weapons and dual-use materials, as the other five boats in the flotilla did?” In fact, said Posnick, some 50 of those on the ship intercepted by the Israel Defense Forces were affiliated with Islamist terrorist groups. There were shouts of “Jews go back to Auschwitz,” and before their departure some made “martyr” videos like those of Hamas suicide bombers. StandWithUs has created another Web site, www.flotillafacts.com, “that has tons of information and tools for people to understand what happened and respond to the misinformation,” said Posnick.

Another example of a falsehood that could — and needs to — be rebutted by facts, said Posnick, is the recent Goldstone Report. Issued by a U.N. panel led by South African judge Richard Goldstone, the report claims Israel committed war crimes by killing civilians in the Gaza conflict in late 2008 and early 2009. Said Posnick, “After years and years of rocket attacks — more than 8,000 rockets falling on Israel from Gaza starting in 2001 — Israel went to defend itself. It did its best to avoid killing civilians.” Some three quarters of the casualties were Hamas “combatants.”

In truth, said Posnick, Israel sought to protect Gaza’s civilians by warning them of where impending operations would take place so they could move to safe areas. As part of this effort, Israel dropped more than two million leaflets in Arabic, telephoned Gaza homes and made daily special radio broadcasts. It also aborted operations that would cause an excessive risk to civilians.

Posnick distributed literature to help people learn more about the flotilla incident, the Gaza conflict and other events that have drawn criticism of Israel. He also urged those at his talk on July 25 to visit www.standwithus.com to download information that can empower them to defend Israel.

“It is very important that we all work together now,” said Posnick.

To work with StandWithUs, arrange for a speaker from the group or get help,
call the Manhattan office at 212.398.2524;
or visit www.standwithus.com.
 
 
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