This is a guest post by Stephen Hoffman
I fell in love with Israel at a young age. I remember walking around Netanya and marvelling at a place which, as a Jewish person, you could feel was a second home. I loved the cleanliness of the beaches and although my young brain probably didn’t realise this, how everything was so technologically advanced. Ever since then I’ve been in love with Israel and it’s a love which continues to endure.
When I visit Israel, I see a country which is a vibrant democracy with a free press and a strong civil society. In comparison I see it surrounded by countries where democracy in the case of Turkey is being strangled or in the case of Saudi Arabia a foreign concept. It makes me realise what a beacon of hope Israel is in the Middle East.
Israel is a country the size of Wales, but has the footprint of a much larger country, with respect to mobile phones, computers, security systems, desalination, space programmes and the size of its Olympics team at the Rio Games. It makes me chuckle when I think of those who are part of the BDS movement. If they are so committed to their cause of demonising Israel, why don’t they chuck their phones away and destroy their computer, after all part of it is probably built by Israeli technology.
It is astonishing to think that some politicians, as highlighted by Baroness Tonge’s recent comments, seriously believe that the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq is down to Israel. The reality is it has nothing to do with Israel, but given that some are so intent on demonising Israel and blaming it for everything, it’s more important than ever that more and more people support the work of groups like We Believe in Israel.
On top of this, we have as President of the NUS, somebody who rallies against Zionism like it is the devil’s work, and a leader of the Labour Party who implied a comparison between supporters of Israel to supporters of ISIS.
At We Believe in Israel we seek to challenge this notion. The demonisation of Israel, which often veers into antisemitism and treats Israel as uniquely evil in the Middle East, when it fact it is a flourishing democracy surrounded by a sea of dictatorships and Islamists. A more sensible debate needs to be encouraged on Israel, which ensures all points of view are heard respectfully and that people shouldn’t fear expressing support for Israel or calling themselves a Zionist. After all, it’s something people should be proud of, not feel like they are joining the Ku Klux Klan.
We believe in Israel has designed a new website, which you can visit at www.webelieveinisrael.org.uk . The new website makes it easier for people than ever before to campaign for Israel at the click of a button. The website also allows people to become part of an email network, helping connect individuals with activists across the country who on a regular basis support Israel and combat delegitimisation of Israel. Support for Israel is needed more than ever, so I hope you’ll view our website, support our campaign and join our email network!
Stephen Hoffman, Campaign Executive, We Believe in Israel