Israeli professor and counter-terrorism expert Dr. Jonathan Fine used his meeting at a Seattle home this month to reinforce one of his primary messages to Jewish audiences today: You must educate yourself to refute the smear campaign and propaganda ruining Israel’s global image today.
Fine, an adviser for the Lauder Government School at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel and the International Program for Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy at the Raphael Recanati International School, is also a researcher at The International Institute for Counter Terrorism. He said that Jews haven’t taken the verbal accusations and hateful rhetoric against Israel seriously enough.
“I don’t think we caught, in time, the changes that were taking place around the world concerning the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict,” Fine told nearly 75 Jewish communal leaders. “We neglected Europe for a very long time and we did not realize changes that were taking place here in the U.S. When we did wake up to the grim reality of what’s happening, on campuses and in many other places, we had to catch up with what many enemies of Israel were doing.”
The event was hosted by the Consulate General of Israel, StandWithUs Northwest, and Larry and Sharon Finegold of Seattle.
Fine detailed how some political factions in the U.S. and Europe have formed alliances with like-minded groups with one aim — to foment lies and fabrications about the Jewish people and their right to exist in Israel. Some, including Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he said, advocate the extinction of the Jewish people.
Fine his colleagues have identified three types of group, most of which predominate in Europe, that collaborate on the promotion of anti-Israel information.
“On the right, we have neo-Nazis and fundamentalist radical Muslims,” he said. “The radical global jihad has 4,500 websites in Europe alone. On the radical left is the red-green alliance, which is a combination and interaction between the radical fundamental Muslims and the neo-Nazis on the right, and the radical left in Europe on the other side, who agree together only on one thing — the State of Israel, Zionism, and Judaism.”
Fine labeled a third grouping as the “multi-dimensional hybrid terrorist organization.” These groups are often lauded in the press, he said, for the humanitarian relief that they provide to their people such as food, shelter, and other resources, as Hamas does in the Palestinian territories. However, these groups also operate more militant wings simultaneously.
“They do charity, and help their people with three meals a day,” Fine said. “They also kill other people. An Argentinian newspaper once wrote that Hamas is an all-charity organization that only provides hot meals and behaves like the Salvation Army…. People just don’t know enough.”
Campuses have also become a petri dish for what Fine called anti-Israel ideologies, another potent force in the confluence of these radical political elements throughout the world and college students.
“I’ll tell you what I see when I go onto campus and I divide them into two prototype groups,” Fine said. “The first prototype I would define as ‘True Villains,’” referencing the 2010 comment by longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas, a woman of Lebanese descent who said that the Jews should go back to where they belong: Poland and Germany.
“I wanted to kiss Helen Thomas’s legs for finally coming out and saying what they mean, that at the end of the day, Israel doesn’t have a right to be there,” he said. “Finally someone from the inside came out and said that the Jews have no right to be there.”
The second type of political group he sees on college campuses is radical Muslims.
“I appreciate one thing: Their sincerity,” said Fine. “They say what they mean and they mean what they say. You have to take these people seriously and take these things at face value.”
Fine summed up his recommendation for combatting this ever-increasing trend by instructing Jews and people who appreciate Israel to get educated on the facts and to challenge those who are spreading untruths.
“It’s your community and you have to confront it yourselves,” said Fine. “These groups can be dealt with, but you have to master the knowledge. When they see someone who knows what’s going on, they move back.”