Monday, April 20, 2009

The Case for Israel

About 600 people gathered last night at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto to watch a free screening of the documentary, "The Case for Israel: Democracy's Outpost".

This documentary covers a lot of information in an interesting, easy to follow format; it is compelling and is never dull or dry.

It features clips of Alan Dershowitz speaking before various audiences and in interviews with politicians, military leaders and various experts. Some of the people featured in the interviews, either with Mr. Dershowitz or on their own, are Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni, Caroline Glick, Phyllis Chesler and Canada's Irwin Cotler. (Full list with bios here.)

The film begins with Alan Dershowitz stating that he is pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian and that he supports a two-state solution. Later, he states that the two-state solution will only happen when Palestinians want a Palestinian state more than they want "no Jewish state". And that is the crux of the issue: demonization of Israel derives from hatred toward the concept and fact of Jewish nationhood and is not the result of any direct or indirect action of the Israeli government. Again and again, Palestinians have been given generous offers of land and again and again, they have turned their backs on the offers.

The idea for the documentary seems to have come about as a response to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's book, "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid". The speakers in "The Case for Israel" use facts to refute the claim, made by Mr. Carter and others, that Israel is an apartheid, illegitimate state. It discusses the historical basis for the founding of Israel and Israel's approach to the many challenges it faces.

I scribbled a few notes in the dark but I think the trailer and clips will give you a better idea of the strengths of this film.

Watch the trailer here and clips here.

This excellent film is available on DVD for US $14.99 (via their website). We were told last night that this is a not-for-profit venture; perhaps that is why the price is so reasonable. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in this issue. Although I saw it last night, I am going to buy it so I can watch it again and show it to others.

Someone in the Q&A afterwards pointed out that the documentary did not cover the period from 1917 to 1946. He said an overview of that era is necessary to disprove the lie that Israel is an illegal occupier of Arab land. I thought it was a good point. (For background information about the Balfour Declaration, see here.)

If your (or your child's) school or university addresses the Middle East, the UN or the current Durban 2 spectacle, suggest that the teacher include this documentary in class as a way of presenting both sides of the story. Buy the DVD and have it on hand so they will have no easy excuses for neglecting the pro-Israel side.

Activist, author and documentary filmmaker Robert Friedman was the special guest at Shaarei Shomayim last night. After we watched the film, Mr. Friedman talked about ways that everyone can get involved and spread the truth about Israel. He stressed the importance of making connections with pro-Israel groups and working with them to make a difference.

Here's the trailer for Mr. Friedman's documentary, "More Precious than Pearls" and here is an essay he wrote about it. I'd like to see this film.

Last night's film and guest speaker were presented by the Speakers Action Group. This dedicated group organizes very interesting lectures; I've attended a few and hope to attend more in future.

Many thanks to the Speakers Action Group and the folks at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation.

Note to self: Learn the words to Hatikvah.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Go Out Fighting: Brigitte Gabriel

The way to fight radical Islam is to get organized, work together and defy political correctness by speaking out, Brigitte Gabriel told a crowded auditorium last night.

"Get bold. Know who you are, your heritage... Go out fighting," she urged the mostly Jewish audience. "Our enemy is organized and we are not... The only way they will be defeated is by an organized resistance movement."

Although she praised moderate Muslims such as Irshad Manji, Ms. Gabriel said, "the moderates are truly irrelevant at this point in the big picture," because most are afraid to speak out. "The problem is the radicals in their community are calling the shots."

I sat spellbound during Brigitte Gabriel's speech last night at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre here in Toronto. This petite, beautiful, courageous woman has experienced Islamic terrorism first-hand and has dedicated herself to fighting its incursions into Western society. She's a force to be reckoned with and a voice we must heed. I am grateful to the Canadian Hadassah-Wizo's One Campaign for hosting her visit.

At one point, Ms. Gabriel raised her left sleeve and explained that every day in the shower she sees the scars made by terrorists: she carries this reminder on her body in the same way that some survivors of the Holocaust carry the tattooed numbers on their arms and this is one of the things that compels her to speak out.

Brigitte Gabriel is the president and founder of American Congress for Truth (ACT) and the author of the books, Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terrorism Warns America, and They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It.

Last night, Ms. Gabriel recounted her experiences in her hometown of Marjayoun, Lebanon, from her idyllic early life as the much-loved daughter of a wealthy, elderly couple to the traumatic experiences that followed an influx of Palestinian Muslims into what had been a multicultural, tolerant, open society.

Ms. Gabriel, a Maronite Christian, described herself as a pro-Israel, pro-Jewish Zionist and credited it to the goodness of the Israeli people.

Although her religion hadn't taught her to hate, Lebanese society had taught her that Jews were the enemy and peace would only be achieved when the Jews were eliminated. This way of thinking changed when, as a young teen, during her mother's extended stay in an Israeli hospital, she witnessed the mercy and kindness shown by Israelis to everyone in their care.

"The Israelis were able to love and forgive their Palestinian enemies in a way I wasn't able to," she said, despite her Christian faith's emphasis on turning the other cheek.

This experience taught her to question everything she is told and everything she sees and reads in the media.

She described the difference between Israelis and Islamists as the difference between "civilization and barbarism" and "goodness and evil". She saw the face of evil in Muslims who persisted in hating Jews even after their lives had been saved by them.

For those who think that radical Islamists couldn't possibly gain a foothold and rule Canada by demographics and/or terrorism, the example of Lebanon must not be ignored. Lebanon was once the only majority Christian country in the Middle East: its society, like ours, was open-minded, fair and multicultural, with open borders. Now, Lebanon is "an infested terrorist hub for Hezbullah, funded by Iran."

The first changes came about through immigration and a higher birth rate amongst the Shiite Muslim population of Lebanon, which shifted the balance of power in the government from the formerly-majority Christians to the new-majority Muslims. The terrorism began after Lebanon, alone of the countries in the Middle East, accepted what Ms. Gabriel called the "third wave" of Palestinian immigrants who arrived after King Hussein of Jordan expelled the PLO in September 1970.

Yasser Arafat, Ms. Gabriel said, used Lebanon's tolerance and open-mindedness against Israel and Christians to make the country a launching ground for their war against Israel. The Muslim extremists were "blinded by hatred and violence and killing" and were "willing to destroy Lebanon in the process of fighting Israel."

She quoted the Muslim Arabic saying: "Saturday, Sunday: First we kill the Jews and then we come for the Christians." Muslims were openly declaring jihad, but "the Christians didn't want to believe" it.

The same thing is happening today in Western countries. We are being infiltrated by radical Islamists who have openly declared war against us and we don't want to see it.

Ms. Gabriel said the Western media erred in not showing the beheadings of Nicolas Berg and Daniel Pearl because, "we in Western societies need to see the barbarism that is heading our way."

"Islam is experiencing a true rise in radicalism," she said. Moderates are speaking out, but "the problem is those same people are being silenced by the political correctness" and also by the extremists.

In addition, "we have sleeper cells in our community that we think they are moderates but they are not" as a result of funding and infiltration.

Ms. Gabriel spoke of Iran, with its pending nuclear capabilities, and its proxy organizations, Hamas and Hezbullah, "with their tentacles spreading all across the world, including here in Canada."

"Hamas and Hezbullah have organized so well in Canada that they actually put pressure on the government."

She said Lebanese Christians in Montreal are afraid to speak out because they could be killed. In Canada. By Muslim terrorists.

Did you get that? Christians in Canada are afraid to speak their minds because of credible death threats.

During the Q&A, a young man who identified himself as a Lebanese Christian said that, if his parents knew he was there, they would be in fear for his life. He came anyway, knowing he could be killed just for attending a speech by Brigitte Gabriel. In Canada.

Ms. Gabriel mentioned that she had spoken previously at Queen's University and the Jewish organization that had brought her there had betrayed her by apologizing afterwards because some people felt offended.

She asked us to consider whether we have the courage, in our day-to-day lives, to speak as plainly as she does about the threat of radical Islam. Most of us are afraid of offending people. "Political correctness is killing us."

She urged us to speak up and take action: "It is your duty, it is my duty, it is all of our duty".

"I know what happens when good people don't say anything: evil dwells."

During the Q&A, someone asked about the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda that is being pushed at Canadian universities.

"Tolerating intolerance is a crime," Ms. Gabriel responded.

She said the problem is that many Jewish parents "have not taught their children to be confrontational, to be bold."

She said that Palestinians spend a lot of time telling their young people about their history and the myriad ways in which Israel supposedly mistreated their grandparents, etc. She joked that Jewish families talk about shopping and the movies and said they must educate their children before they get to university, both at home and through their synagogues or youth programs, about Zionism and the history of their people. As an example, she asked how many young Jewish people know that 97% of the "apartheid wall" in Israel is actually chain-link fence.

She also suggested that the Jewish community reach out to the Christian community and to others who value democracy, freedom and human rights.

When asked during the Q&A about changing Islam from within, she said, "We cannot change Islam from the outside: it has to change from the inside... We can resist but the change must come from within the Muslim society."

Ms. Gabriel's organization started ACT for Canada and has 1,200 registered members but is currently in need of someone to head its operations. If you are interested in getting involved, contact ACT via their website.