The Cyber War Against Israel
Facebook. YouTube. Instagram. Twitter.
For most of us, these sites serve as entertaining outlets where we post pictures, share opinions, and watch videos of cats (so I’m told) or of a deer eating a snowman. (That one was viewed several hundred thousand times.) But for Israel, social-media platforms have become the front lines of an incessant, international war against the Jewish state and its supporters.
One of Israel’s most virulent online enemies is Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a campus organization with ties to both Hamas1 and the Muslim Brotherhood.2 SJP does not hide its pro-terror agenda. In 2013, Yafee Dizzel, then president of SJP at Temple University in Philadelphia, posted on social media a call to free Samer Issawi, an imprisoned terrorist convicted of manufacturing pipe bombs and shooting Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada.3
On August 2, 2017, the New York City SJP posted to Facebook information about a farewell event for convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who was involved in a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that injured nine Israeli students and killed two. Above the terrorist’s picture, the SJP group wrote, “Rasmea should be honored—not deported!”
Students for Justice in Palestine not only uses social networks to advocate for terrorists but also uses them to promote the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that is working to cripple and delegitimize Israel through boycotts of and divestments from Israeli businesses and products. BDS also calls for sanctions against the Jewish state.
On September 23, 2014, the eve before Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), SJP founder Dr. Hatem Bazian, a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, posted on Facebook a call for an “International Day of Action” against Israel. His calls included, “No to Academic Complicity with Israeli Occupation,” “No to University Presidents’ Visits to Israel,” and “No Joint Research or Conferences with Israeli Institutions.”4 Bazian’s targeting of the only Jewish state on Earth is nothing more than repackaged anti-Semitism—which is in vogue today, especially on college campuses.
Another case of academic anti-Zionism involves Ryerson University lecturer Valentina Capurri, who recently came under fire for her anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic remarks on Twitter. Capurri often posts using the term zio, a pejorative term for Zionist. She has called supporters of Israel “zio-trolls,” “zio-murderer[s],” and “zio-fanatic[s].”5
Capurri has also used her social-media platforms to promulgate the classic libel that the Jewish people are planning world domination. One article she shared claimed the “Rothschilds and their minions” were planning a “planetary hostile takeover operation.”6 In other words, the Jewish people plan to take over the world.
Sadly, those sitting under the indoctrination of people like Capurri and Bazian regurgitate their venomous lies. On February 6, 2017, for example, 22-year-old Igor Sadikov, a member of the Student Society of McGill University’s legislative council in Montreal, Canada, tweeted, “punch a [Z]ionist today.”7
Commenting on Sadikov’s tweet, Jerusalem Post columnist Gil Troy wrote, “Garbage in, garbage out. In the twisted world of radical campus politics, illiberal liberals forget that ‘liberal’ and ‘broad-minded’ once were synonyms.”8
Unfortunately, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist attacks are becoming part of mainstream life, even in America. In 2012, Linda Sarsour, Palestinian-American political activist and organizer of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC, tweeted, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism. Challenge racism, #NormalizeJustice.”9 Sadly, Glamour magazine named Sarsour as one of its “Women of the Year” award recipients in 2017, despite her advocacy of Muslim Sharia Law and her anti-Semitic views.
In Sarsour’s opinion, Zionism—the belief the Jewish people have a right to live securely and independently in their historic homeland—is a racist ideology.
For Sarsour and her comrades, it doesn’t matter Israelis can’t enter Libya, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and a host of other Muslim countries. It doesn’t matter Israel gives Arab citizens the same rights as Jewish citizens. It doesn’t matter Arabs serve in Israel’s parliament (the Knesset) and on Israel’s Supreme Court, even though Arab nations would never extend such privileges to Jews. None of these things matter, because—well—“Israel is racist.”
Then there are those who hide behind a computer screen, with their avatars and ambiguous screen names protecting them from bearing personal responsibility for their anti-
Semitism. A casual scroll through the comments of people who reacted to pro-Israel activist Hananya Naftali’s YouTube video “Why I’m a Zionist and So Should You,” reveals statements such as the following:
- “You tellin me that Palestinians have no right to defend themselves, after all the discriminations since 1948[?] Did you really expect to just take the land and live in it? Well of course they will resist[.] [T]hey won[’]t accept you taking the land and throw[ing] them out of their homes. Again, you are so stupid.”10
- “The [H]olocaust wasn’t real but it should have been. You [P]alestinian baby killing, land stealing parasite vermin.” 11
- “Also, your people brought Communism and Marxism into Europe and caused Holodomor (Ukrainian Genocide by Bolsheviks) more killings in Russia by Bolsheviks, and killings of Germans in Poland as well, you are not victims. This is why the world dislikes Jews, because you always want to play victim when you were very evil in the past, and still in the present infiltrating European governments and pushing Globalist agendas to destroy what’s left of Europe. Knowledge of history is the power of truth.”12
A Bigger Disappointment
The fact the world is largely against Israel—though saddening—is not surprising. More troubling and disappointing is the fact the professing church—including many evangelicals
—hold anti-Israel views and errant beliefs concerning God’s plan for the Jewish people.
The Christ at the Checkpoint conference is a case in point. Held biennially at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Israel, its purpose is “to challenge Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel/Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.”13
In addition to a faulty understanding of Christ’s teachings on the origins and nature of the coming Kingdom of God, Christ at the Checkpoint teaches blatant anti-Israel ideology as biblical theology.
Then there is Hank Hanegraaf. In a 2016 video posted on the conference’s YouTube channel, Hanegraaff, popularly known as the “Bible Answer Man,” said “the promises that God made to Abraham have been fulfilled” and “God has only one chosen people, one covenant community, beautifully connected by the cross and illustrated by the apostle Paul by a cultivated olive tree.”14
Hanegraaff is partially correct. Many of God’s promises to Abraham have, indeed, been fulfilled (cf. Gal. 3:8). But Hanegraaff is wrong in claiming they have all been fulfilled and that the church is the “one chosen people, one covenant community.”
Scripture clearly states God has only temporarily paused His program for Israel during the Church Age (Rom. 11:25). Hanegraaff fails to distinguish between Israel—the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the biblical covenants belong (9:4)—and the church, the body and bride of Christ, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, which began at Pentecost (Acts 2). Unfortunately, on this issue, the “Bible Answer Man” has the wrong answer.
Christ at the Checkpoint also produced and posted a video on Facebook about Israeli settlements in the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria), claiming, “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law” and “the illegality of the settlements is a consensus position.”15 These assertions are simply not true.
No consensus exists on the illegality of Israeli settlements. In fact, many scholars believe Israel legally occupies Judea and Samaria, since the international community never recognized Jordan’s seizure and annexation of the area from 1948 to 1967; and the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate of 1920—which gave Israel the legal right to settle the land—remains in effect.16
At the end of the video, the Christ at the Checkpoint representative claims the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (no friend of Israel) “declared that Israeli policies in the West Bank, with the settlements front and center, violate the prohibition of segregation and apartheid.”17 Appealing to such a one-sided organization reveals that Christ at the Checkpoint’s mission, far from its claimed purpose to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict with Jesus’ teaching, is to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state and sway evangelical Christians away from supporting Israel—the only position that emerges from a consistent, literal understanding of Scripture.
From Students for Justice in Palestine to university professors to evangelical organizations, those seeking to teach lies about Israel and express blatant animosity toward the Jewish people are increasingly using social media to disseminate their anti-Semitic, anti-Zionistic views. This fact should motivate believers who love Israel and the Jewish people to lovingly and firmly confront such falsehoods and hatred with the truth of history and, especially, of God’s Word.
- Jonathan Schanzer, “Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, April 19, 2016 <goo.gl/m1fhNc>.
- Max Samarov and Philippe Assouline, “Who is really behind the SJP organization?” San Diego Jewish World, June 8, 2016 <goo.gl/yGs22D>.
- Yafee Dizzel Facebook page, January 6, 2013 <goo.gl/261TwJ>.
- Ron Feingold, “National Founder of SJP Calls to Silence Jewish Groups the Evening Before the Jewish New Year,” TruthRevolt.org, August, 26, 2014 <goo.gl/rasFif>.
- Ben Shachar, “College Lecturer Promotes Antisemitism Through Social Media,” The Algemeiner, September 5, 2017 <goo.gl/rzAMWN>.
- “‘Punch a Zionist’ tweet by McGill student politician prompts concern for campus safety,” CBCNews Montreal, February 10, 2017 <goo.gl/g71N3y>.
- Gil Troy, “‘Punch a Zionist Today’: The Campus Hate Swarm Strikes Again,” Jpost.com, February 14, 2017 <goo.gl/xGLVu4>.
- Linda Sarsour, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism. Challenge racism, #NormalizeJustice. Check out this video by @remroum,” Tweet, October 31, 2012 <goo.gl/cBfoAe>.
- Hananya Naftali, “Why I’m a Zionist and So Should You,” YouTube video, December 17, 2016 <goo.gl/RjWwuz>.
- “Christ at the Checkpoint,” Bethlehem Bible College <goo.gl/zdm63d>.
- Christ at the Checkpoint, “Hank Hanegraaff: A Gospel Response to Christian Zionism,” YouTube video, March 16, 2016 <goo.gl/LaC4Gk>.
- Christ at the Checkpoint Conference Facebook page, October 7, 2016 <goo.gl/LajWNc>.
- “West Bank: Settlements, Communities, and Facts on the Ground,” StandWithUs.com <goo.gl/XWNzQD>.
- Christ at the Checkpoint Conference Facebook page, October 7, 2016 <goo.gl/LajWNc>.