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Silencing and Demonization are Wrong, Both in Israel and Abroad

Surprised at anti-Israel Hatred? Maybe it’s Time to Think of the Hatred Here at Home

Around the world, the “Swords of Iron” war has brought tens of thousands of protesters out onto the streets, screaming and condemning Israel. Their hatred towards the State of Israel, alongside shocking statements based on lies and the open support of Hamas has caught many by surprise. A survey coming out of the US found that in the 18-24 cohort, more than half consider the solution to the conflict to be the end of Israel, with its territory handed over to Hamas. Such attacks have driven more and more Israelis of all political persuasions to get involved in improving Israel’s global image. They were surprised at the ignorance and hatred displayed by regular people, the kind who should have supported Israel and not terrorists, much less called for Israel’s elimination and a Hamas victory. Many of the protesters seem to have simply been brainwashed by various actors, and the hatred towards Israel is unfair. However, the tsunami of anti-Israel articles, including in the mainstream media, academia and in widespread civil activity is almost impossible to contend with.

News outlets reported on violent protests outside a talk by Kohelet Policy Forum’s Deputy Director in California. As someone who has found himself on the receiving end of anti-Israel hatred on overseas campuses, I regretfully feel compelled to remind everyone that hateful, angry protests exist in Israel as well.

Throughout all of last year we witnessed explosive protests in Israel, including roadblocks, despicable declarations, and the crossing of all red lines when the organizations of first “Brothers in Arms” [Achim Laneshek]” and then “Breaking Walls” [Shovrot Kirot] vandalized Kohelet Forum’s offices. There are hate-filled protesters against all groups, from all political directions; against the ultra-orthodox [Haredim], the settlers, the Arabs, right wingers and leftwingers and voter blocs. Anyone can become a target of hatred, but it feels different when it happens at home, as though here, protests are born of just causes. We’re horrified by those American students who protest Israel without being capable of even finding the country on a map, but we sympathize with those who still accuse Kohelet Forum of trying to promote “A libertarian, non-Jewish, Jewish Law-adherent state” even if such a notion is illogical and self-contradictory. At home, we regard every protester as a constitutional expert, and anyone objecting to Kohelet Forum as one who must have reviewed most of its research papers before firmly pronouncing what the Forum supports and what it doesn’t, who works there and what their stance is on various subjects.

I cannot ignore the similarity between the smear campaign against Israel abroad, that reached new depths in the last four years, and the demonization of Kohelet Policy Forum here, in the past and still ongoing today. On a sixteen-hour break I had from fighting in Gaza I got messages from people threatening to “settle accounts after the war” and accusing me of having the blood of the October 7 victims on my hands. The people writing such things have not read a single Kohelet policy paper. One of the “Brothers in Arms” members attempting to scare voters in municipal elections about Kohelet influence repeated the lie about the “Kohelet civics textbook” as recently as this week. The fact that many of my Kohelet colleagues and I have been called up to serve in the war has not moved such haters to so much as wait for our return home.

Both the State of Israel and Kohelet Forum could have done more to fight for an image that aligns with reality. In both cases however, a well-organized and well-funded smear campaign has succeeded in pushing decent people to take a stance and avoid dialogue. Only this week, a lecture by a well-known leftist, Jewish-American professor who wanted to discuss “the two-state solution” was cancelled in California, and a talk by center-left former MK Tzippi Livni was transferred online for fear of disturbances. Truly, even having a dialogue with someone defined as a “Zionist” is off the table.

What about here?

In the past year an established high school cancelled a lecture by a Law professor after discovering that he participated in a Kohelet Forum doctoral program around eight years ago. In others, who call themselves “liberal” without a shred of self-awareness, civics textbooks are being hunted and purged because an academic advisor for a textbook later joined the Forum.

Perhaps we ourselves should be a little less impervious to other opinions and stop attributing ill intentions to the other side before we complain about the treatment Israel is getting on the world stage.

First published in JNS


  • עו"ד רן בר-יושפט

    עו"ד רן בר-יושפט, סמנכ״ל וראש מחלקת העשרות חינוכיות יצא לארצות הברית לקדם את תדמית ישראל בעולם פעמים רבות. מנהל הפרויקטים של "הקהל – הקונגרס היהודי הישראלי".עבד בלשכה המשפטית של הכנסת. ניהל את אזור ירושלים של חברת הפסיכומטרי "אי-זי-וואי", שם לימד כיתות מיוחדות של אוכלוסיות מוחלשות. הוביל קבוצות של צעירים המשתתפים ב"מסע" והעביר הרצאות למגוון רחב של קהלים על נושאים שונים הקשורים לישראל ולבניית פרויקטים. חבר במועדון הבוגרים של IMPACT! – תוכנית מלגות של FIDF. בוגר תוכניות הסוכנות היהודית - הסמינרים הציוניים ומחנות הקיץ, ארגון StansWithUs, WUJS ועוד ארגונים פרו-ישראלים רבים. בוגר תואר במשפטים מהעברית, תואר שני במנהל עסקים מאוניברסיטת תל אביב ותואר שני בהיסטוריה מאוניברסיטת חיפה.

Ran Bar-Yoshafat
Ran Bar-Yoshafat

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