Dear Mr. Bennett,
I see on Twitter that you have turned down a trip to come visit my country, Israel. In your note, you say that you will come in the future, but "it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza." What changed your mind was this article in the Times of Israel, so you say.
I don't make it a habit to call people liars, but I'm not buying it. I read the article, and it's harmless. It hardly claims that Israel plans to "use" you, but quotes Tourism Minister, Yariv Levin:
"I am sure that, after the experiences that the players will enjoy in Israel and after they have seen the unique tourist sites and the special atmosphere here, they will become ambassadors of good will for Israel."
The way you portray it in your silly diatribe is as if the Israeli government had a sinister plan to trick you. You know what our main trick here in Israel is when dealing with people like you, who have developed an opinion of our country as racist and unjust, but have never visited our country? It is simply to introduce you to Israel and the Israeli people so you can develop an informed opinion. That is all the minister was saying.
But let's be honest, here is what most likely happened. Others on the left saw that you were going to "evil" Israel and began to call you out. They told you what to think about Israel. They probably said, "Visiting Israel is like a vote for Trump." If your cancellation really is because of Israel's supposed injustice, why did you agreed to come in the first place? But wait, what's this?"
An open letter signed by pro-Palestinian groups, activists and high-profile supporters including Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover and Alice Walker had urged the athletes not to go. (timesofisrael.com)
Dr. King Loved Israel
It is kind of funny that you posted a picture of Dr. King with your statement that you are not coming to Israel. Dr. King loved Israel and did not see her as an occupying, oppressive force. But then again, Dr. King did not have Twitter trolls to tell him how to think.
"The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world" —MLK
"Thousands of Years." Really?
In your note you say:
"When I go to Israel—and I do plan to go—it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives."
No, there have not been Palestinian Arabs here for "thousands of years," or a thousand years, or even 100 years. The word "Palestine" was given to the region by the Romans in A.D. 135, after crushing the second Jewish revolt. It had no connection whatsoever with any Arab ethnicity. By the 20th century, a Palestinian was anyone who lived in what is now modern day Jordan or Israel. It had no ethnicity attached. Before Israel's birth in 1948, even Jews who lived here called themselves Palestinian.
A coin from 1927, when the British controlled the region of Palestine, has the word in English, Hebrew and Arabic. If Palestine were an Arab ethnicity, then why in the world would they use Hebrew? In fact, Arabs didn't mint Palestinian coins; the British did. The Jewish-owned newspaper was the Palestine Post.
Only in the 1960s did some Arabs began to call themselves Palestinian as national identity, as Yassar Arafat, the father of modern-day terrorism (as in ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda), led the Palestinian Liberation Organization with the goal of destroying Israel.
"No Palestinian People"
Many Arab leaders took issue with his use of the term Palestinian. The Syrian President Assad said, in 1976, to so-called Palestinian leaders:
You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Do not forget one thing: there is no Palestinian people, no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria! You are an integral part of the Syrian people and Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the real representatives of the Palestinian people.
He correctly saw Palestine as a region, not an ethnicity.
Peaceful Gaza after Israel liberated her from Egypt, who had locked up Gaza like a prison from 1948-1967.
In 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza, the territories experienced unprecedented economic growth under Israeli rule. (In case you don't know, Egypt controlled Gaza before '67, and it was like a prison, and Jordan controlled the West Bank—there has never been a Palestinian nation).
"During the 1970s, the West Bank and Gaza became the world's fourth-fastest-growing economy, ahead of Singapore and Hong Kong, and one of the world's fastest-growing populations."
Israel set these people free. My wife, as a child, would go into Gaza with her father, shopping for produce. Israelis spent millions of shekels in Arab towns. Everyone was happy—Jews and Arabs.
During Your Gaza Trip
When you do find the time to visit Gaza, please let Hamas leaders know of your passion for justice. Because while you ignorantly accuse Israel of what you do not even know, Hamas routinely murders their own people.
- During the last war with Israel, Hamas killed dozens of Palestinian tunnel diggers so they could never tell Israel where the tunnels were.
- Hamas routinely stole U.N. aid meant for the people of Gaza and used it for Hamas.
- They impose strict Islamic law in Gaza. One teen was beaten mercilessly for using Western hair gel.
- Hamas terrorists behead suspected traitors without trials and often drag their headless bodies through the streets by motorcycles as a warning to the people.
- They use hospitals, mosques, churches and schools to shoot rockets at Israel, in hopes that Israel would respond and it can be a PR bonanza. They would fire from balconies and rooftops full of women and children as human shields.
When you are visiting, make sure you bring these topics up to Hamas leaders.
Here's another fun fact your handlers probably didn't tell you. They are about 1.5 million Israeli Arab citizens. They do not call themselves Palestinian, but Israeli. Because of your passion for justice, you should know that they have all the freedoms Israelis have, such as freedom of speech.
That makes them the freest Arabs in the Middle East. Listen to me, Michael—there are no Arabs in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, certainly not Syria (where you can be hanged just for demonstrating against the government), Yemen, Egypt, etc. who have more freedoms than the 1.5 million Israeli Arabs. That's a fact.
Are you aware that Israel has a black population from Ethiopia of 125,000? They were rescued from Ethiopia where they suffered persecution. And lastly, did you know:
- Israel is taking in 100 Syrian refugee children. Which is 100 more than many of our Arab neighbors like Kuwait
- An Israeli group just shipped 100 tons of goods for the Syrian people, but had to remove all Hebrew tags first, so they would not know that it was "evil" Israel that was helping them. And still, we help.
- After the Haiti earthquake, Israel's field hospital operated at the highest level and was the first emergency field hospital to receive the highest score.
Get the Facts Before You Tweet
So, if you want to be a social justice warrior, you might want to get educated first. Here is a free book to help you get started: www.roncan.net/15Facts. And if you really care about social justice, then ask yourself how it is that all the Palestinian leaders are rich and the people are poor. How is it that Yassar Arafat died with nearly $1 billion U.S. in his personal bank account? Why have Christian Arabs fled the Palestinian territories? Don't be a selective social justice warrior; get educated.
I don't fault you for wanting to have a voice. I fault you for being ignorant to the facts.
So, will you action bring a curse on America? God did say he would curse those who curse Abraham. No, I don't think so, as you do not represent the whole country. But it sure won't bring a blessing.
Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah's Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.
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