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Advocacy Highlights - May 2024

Spring is upon us, and May is blooming with Jewish holidays. Along with the arrival of May blossoms, come a few days of remembrance and celebration, aka Yoms.


Here is a brief guide to Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim:
Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day
Yom Hashoah 2024 begins at sundown on Sunday, May 5th and ends at nightfall on Monday, May 6th. Yom Hashoah is the internationally recognized remembrance day for the 6 million Jews who perished in the Shoah, or Holocaust. It falls on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, a date selected by the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) to commemorate the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, when Jewish resistance fighters defied the Nazis and fought for freedom. Shoah means "catastrophe" or "utter destruction" in Hebrew and specifically refers to the gen ocide of the Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Yom Hazikaron - Israeli Memorial Day
Yom Hazikaron 2024 begins at sundown on Sunday, My 12th, and ends at nightfall on Monday, May 13th. Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s national day of mourning to honor all the soldiers and people who lost their lives defending the State of Israel. The remembrance day, which always takes place on the day preceding Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, was established by the Knesset and enacted into law in 1963. This year, the horrific events of October 7, 2023 make this day even more tragic than ever.

Yom Ha'atzmaut - Israel Independence Day
Yom Ha’atzmaut 2024, marking Israel's 76th anniversary, begins at sundown on Monday, May 13th, and ends at nightfall on Tuesday, May 14th. Yom Ha'atzmaut is a joyous celebration of the establishment of the modern State of Israel. It is observed on the fifth day of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary of the day (corresponding to May 14, 1948) a provisional government publicly read and signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Yom Ha'atzmaut immediately follows Yom Hazikaron, reminding Israelis of those who sacrificed their lives for independence.

 

Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day
This Yom arrives in June, commemorating the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty in 1967. On Yom Yerushalayim, Hadassah celebrates the reunification of East and West Jerusalem and Hadassah’s two hospitals, Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, which is in West Jerusalem, and Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, which is in East Jerusalem. Yom Yerushalayim 2024 begins at sundown on Tuesday, June 4th, and ends at nightfall on Wednesday, June 5th.

Countering Anti-Zionist Misinformation
Is Israel “a racist state that violates human rights and practices apartheid?" NO

  • Israel is not an apartheid state. Apartheid was the South African system that denied certain racial groups, particularly black people, access to political and judicial rights in their country, controlled movements and forced inferior living conditions educational opportunities based on race. Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that Israel will: “...promote the development of the country for all inhabitants based on precepts of liberty, justice and peace; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed or sex, full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture, safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of shrines and holy place of all religions.”

  • Israel is a pluralistic and democratic society with equal rights and access to education. There are 2.1 million Arab citizens of Israel, and they make up 21.1% of the population, 18% of students pursuing an undergraduate degree. Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. Israeli law regards Judaism, Islam, and Christianity as official religions and constitutionally ensures complete freedom and equality to all. Arab citizens, including women, have full voting rights in Israel, in fact, it is one of the few countries in the middle east where Arab women may vote.

  • Arabs are represented in Israel’s legislative and judicial bodies. There are currently 10 Arab members elected to and serving on Israel’s Knesset and an Arab-Israeli, Khaled Kabub, serves as a permanently appointed member of Israel’s supreme court. Monsour Abbas is currently the leader of the United Arab List, a political party in Israel, and made history by becoming the first Arab-Israeli political leader to join an Israeli governing coalition.

  • There are no “Jews only” signs, buses, schools, in Israel. Arab citizens hold prominent jobs, run businesses, attend schools and universities and more. There are many Arab doctors, nurses, and medical personnel at Hadassah Hospital and all hospitals in Israel. Hadassah’s Dr. Shaden Salameh was the first Arab woman to head up a hospital emergency room in Israel.

  • Israel is a haven for women’s and LGBTQ rights in the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East to allow civil partnerships or have constitutional, employment, and other protections for LGBTQ people. Women in Israel also enjoy substantially more equal conditions than other countries in the Middle East. Israel also affords equal treatment and economic opportunity for women and legal abortion.

 

Is Israel “committing genocide or ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians? NO

  • Israel does not and has never engaged in genocide. “Genocide” refers to the physical targeting and destruction of an entire group based on its identity. Jews, for example, were targeted by Nazi’s to be systematically murdered. Arab citizens make up over 21% of Israel’s population and have equal rights, economic opportunity and political representation – that is not consistent with genocide.

  • Israel’s war is against Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, not Gazan people. Hamas uses civilian areas for military purposes as human shields, locating its military operations near hospitals, schools, homes and other civilian hubs.

  • Israel takes steps to minimize civilian casualties during military operations. Israel notifies civilians in Gaza about potential strikes through phone calls, leaflets, roof knocking warnings and more. Israel gave warnings and urged Palestinians in North Gaza to evacuate to the south before continuing to battle Hamas. These warnings can undermine operations and help Hamas targets escape. Again, this practice is inconsistent with genocide.

  • Hamas and its allies, however, explicitly call for eliminating all Jews. Hamas makes no secret about its intentions to eliminate Israel and kill Jews, specifically because of their ethnicity and identity. It’s spelled out in their charter and was their explicit goal on October 7.

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently disputed this claim as well, saying “the charge of genocide is meritless. It’s particularly galling, given that those who are attacking Israel – Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, as well as their supporter, Iran – continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews.”

 

Did Jews “Colonize” Israel? NO

  • Jews are native and indigenous to the land of Israel, and Israel is integral to the Jewish religion and culture. Colonization implies one country sent Jews to Israel to establish control over the indigenous people living in the land and the land’s resources. Jewish ancestry in Israel traces back to Biblical times. Jews are indigenous to Israel – they didn’t colonize –
    they returned to their homeland.

  • Israel is a pluralistic and democratic society with equal rights and access to education. There are 2.1 million Arab citizens of Israel, and they make up 21.1% of the population, 18% of students pursuing an undergraduate degree. Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. Israeli law regards Judaism, Islam, and Christianity as official religions and ensures complete freedom and equality to all. Arab citizens, including women, have full voting rights in Israel, in fact, it is one of the few
    countries in the middle east where Arab women may vote. This is not consistent with “Colonialists.”

  • Before the land was called “Israel” in 1948, it was called Palestine (British Mandate Palestine). Before 1948 Jews were also called Palestinians. Statements like “Europeans colonized Israel” and “All Israelis are blue eyes and blonde” fully negate Jews from Arab lands. Mizrachi Jews came back to Israel from the Middle East and North Africa – from Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon. As of 2015, 45% of Israelis considered themselves Mizrachi.

  • Many Jews came to Israel to escape antisemitism. They were not sent by a military force or engaged in stealing the resources of another population.

  • Israel has actively participated in processes to find a peaceful solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Attempts and negotiations to resolve this conflict include several plans offering a two-state solution, which was the original idea approved by the United Nations partition plan – an independent state of Israel and an independent state of Palestine side by side. Two-state plans have been consistently rejected by Palestinians.


Is Anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism? ABSOLUTELY

  • Calling for the destruction of Israel or denying the historical Jewish connection to the land is both anti-Zionism and antisemitism. There is a very large distinction between criticizing Israeli leaders, policies or government actions and denying the country has a right to exist. Anti-Zionism goes beyond criticizing Israel, perpetuates false accusations about Jews and Israelis, and claims that Jews have no right to self determination and Israel has no right to exist. Many Israelis – Jews, Arabs, and Christian protested the government in 2023 but none went so far as to call for the death of Jews or the elimination of Israel.

  • Since October 7th, anti-Zionist comments have hit an all-time high, especially on college campuses, and they are absolutely antisemitic. One phrase heard over and over is “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free”. It means that from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, “Palestine” will be free of all the Jews – that the Jews will be killed. This phrase, like Hamas’ charter calls for the elimination of Jews and Israel and it is absolutely antisemitic.

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