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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 15, 201, PAGE 5A An open letter to Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem00and anyone else who condemns Israel for 'genocide' By Alina D. Sharon I am writing this not as a journalist, but as a regular person, an Israeli citizen, in response to the letter you signed condemning Israel for 'genocide' in Gaza. I am, like many around the world, a big fan of your work. You're both very talented, and two of the most gorgeous people in Hollywood. But let me be clear. While you!re sitting in your cushy living room, your fam- ily members--and especially your children--are not run- ning to bomb shelters several times a day while thousands or rockets rain down on them, not just in the past few weeks, but for years. My family is. Even when the Iron Dome system is neutralizing those rockets, shrapnel can still fall and cause injuries. Your ba- bies don't have to worry about that, nor do they have to worry about a terrorist crawling out of a tunnel and butchering them in their sleep. I wonder what you would do if you were us? Let's stop kidding ourselves. I'm sure as decent people you would feel terrible about the fate of Gaza's children, but that won't stop you from defending your own. In part, I don't blame you for pointing the finger at the "Israel Occupation Forces"for this current conflict, nor for sympathizing with the cur- rent plight of the Palestinians in Gaza How could you not sympathize when you see the horrible images shown to you every day on TV? The truth is, I sympathize too. No child should have to live in a reality like Gaza's. Most Israelis, in fact, agree with that. It's just too bad you didn't seem to take the time to actu- ally ask "Why?" and do some research before signing this letter. If you had, you would have encountered a different perspective, that "under inter- national law Israel is within its rights to establish a blockade of the Gaza Strip, which would include any flotilla or boats heading there, because Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a hostile ter- rorist entity that has launched more than 10,000 rockets and mortars into Israel." Some people might try to tell you that Hamas arose in response to the blockade, but this is simply not true. Hamas existed long before the block- ade and has been responsible for terrorist attacks inside Israel in which many Israelis have been killed. Hamas came to power in Gaza after Israel withdrew from the territory in 2005. Israel instated the blockade after that. The block- ade aside, Gaza is actually not occupied by Israel right now. But if you're going to protest the blockade, please protest against Egypt as well, which is also blockading its border with Gaza, and currently blames Hamas, not Israel, for the ongoing conflict. Despite this, Israel is "not fully exercising its legal rights under international law, since it is allowing inspected food, fuel and other essential ma- terials from Israel into Gaza via trucks." Israel even allowed shipments of cement into Gaza, which Hamas mostly used to build tunnels through which terrorists could infil- trate into Israel and attack its civilians. Reports also now indicate that-the current operation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Israel has prevented a surprise attack by 200 ter- roristswho planned to get into Israel via these underground tunnels. Your news networks will not tell you this because of their anti-Israel bias. Hamas knows that many of Gaza's innocent people will die as a result of Israel's military response. It wants this because this will make for good TV and it will help get the world to condemn Israel, which is why Hamas terrorists have been telling Gazans to stay in their homes despite Israeli warnings of an attack. Of course you will ask, "Where would Gazans go?" Yes, it is true that they have few places to escape to, but people seeking to live rather than die, people who actually want compromise and co- existence with Israel, perhaps should not elect a terrorist group as their government--a group whose stated mission is the total destruction of Israel. Maybe that sounds harsh, but Israelis live in the reality of the Middle East, unlike the rest of the world. By the way, just this week reports broke that Hamas terrorists executed more than 20 PaleStinians who opposed them in Gaza. In Israel, there are many disagreements, not only between Jews and Arabs, but also between Jews and other Jews. But did you know that 20 percent of the citizens of Israel itself are Muslims and Christians who live freelywith equal rights under Israeli law and are active in the Israeli government? Did you know that some Israeli Arabs also serve in the IDF? I could write about this forever and it probably won't convince you, because for every voice like mine, there are probably 1,000 telling you differently. But let me make this one final point: Please don't use the word "genocide" when discussing this conflict. Jewish Israelis, and Jews around the world, are so tired of our tragic history being used as a cynical tool to condemn us today. You want to speak about genocide? Let me tell you about genocide. Many in my family were butchered in concentration camps. You are from Spain. In Spain, your fascist general Francisco Franco told the Nazis the whereabouts of Jews living in Spain at that time, as your own Spanish daily El Pais revealed in 2010. Your Spanish Inquisition burned countless people at the stake, including many of my own people, and expelled them in 1492. Thank your govern- ment for recently granting descendants of those perse- cuted Jews citizenship, but don't be self-righteous by condemning Israel. By the way, the Spanish, along with the British, also once killed countless Native Americans when they first arrived in the New World. If you really care about Letter on page 14A European governments must act to stem rising antiSemitism By Robert Singer NEW YORK (JTA)--The conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is spilling over into Europe, where in the past several weeks, Jewish communities have witnessed a chilling display of anti-Semitism, the likes of which has not been seen in many years. European governments need to act decisively to stem this tide of hatred. No longer content with cloaking hatred of Jews in the garb of anti-Zionism or.op- position to Israel, demonstra- tors have marched through the streets of Berlin, Brussels and other European cities to the cry of "death to the Jews" and "gas the Jews." In Paris By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn Just when you thought that the tortured rationalizations for Palestinian terrorism couldn't get any more weird or absurdmthey just got weirder. Appearing on the Fox Television talk show "Out- numbered" onAug. 4, veteran television journalist Geraldo Rivera launched into a tirade against Israel over the number of Palestinian casualties in the Gaza war. Geraldo went so far as to dismiss Hamas's thousands of rocket attacks on Israel as "laughable" since only three Israeli civilians have been killed by them. The millions of Israelis who are huddling in bomb shelters--which is the reason for the low Israeli civilian casualty toll--are not laughing. Challenged by one of the show's co-hosts as to whether and its suburbs, will mobs bent on destruction have run amok, attacking synagogues and the Jewish worshippers in them. They've burned cars, looted shops and smashed store windows. It wasn't that many years ago when legions of storm troopers paraded through German streets chanting "Sharpen the long knives on the pavement; let the knives slip into the Jews' bodies." The irony that most of today's demonstrators are themselves recent migrants to Europe or descendants of newcomers cannot be lost on anyone. Sadly, however, this pathology is not only confined to European Muslims but to a whole host of rancorous elements in European society. Of course, there is another side of the coin that is cause for cheer. Remarkably, all 28 foreign ministers of the Eu- ropean Union member states have called for the disarma- ment of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza. Moreover, some Arab coun- tries, most notably Egypt, are quietly rooting for Israel on the sidelines in the hope that it will eventually succeed in neutralizing Hamas. But that still does not diminish the gravity of the terrible scenes being played out across Europe. As much as we can draw attention to thisworrisome phenomenon, at the end of the day it is the European governments, along with the people of Europe, that must take a stand. Some of the govern- ments have already begun to do so, but one can only hope that more will follow and act with vigor. The World Jewish Congress has called on European governments to strengthen police protection of Jewish sites and to ban or disband violent rallies. Governments must stop the agitation and protect their Jewish popula- tions or Jews will ultimately turn their back on those countries. Jews live in Europe by right, not sufferance. Their manifold contributions to the development of what we call European civilization are too numerous to recall, even if they are not always recognized, and certainly Geraldo justifies Arab terrorism00against himself he was on the side of Israel, or Hamas, an overheated Ger- aldo blurted out, "I have a Jewish star tattooed on me! I'm a lifelong Zionist! I would die for Israel!" Geraldo insisted that he has covered Israel for decades, which is in reality a way of saying that every once in a while, over a stretch of many years, he has spent a few days in Israel, covering a story. Of course he believes that makes him an expert, because in his next breath, Geraldo declared that since he has covered Israel so much, he knows the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. "Just end the occupation! End the occupation already! There are Palestinians who have grown up their entire lives not knowing anything besides the Israeli occupation!" Actually, there are almost no Palestinians who could qualify for that description. In 1995, Israel withdrew from the cities in Judea-Samaria where 98 percent of those Palestinians reside. In 2005, Israel withdrew all of its soldiers and citizens from Gaza. The only "occupation" the Palestinians endure is the occupation perpetrated upon them by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the two authoritarian regimes that rule those territories. Yet here was the purport- edly well-informed, veteran journalist yelling on national television about how "ending the occupation" would bring peace to the Middle East. And then it got worse. What about the Hamas rockets and other Palestinian terrorism, the co-hosts asked Geraldo. His response: "When people are under occupation, they get ticked off." That blatant justification for attempted mass murder of Israelis and Jews was ap- palling. But itwas also ironic. Because, havingjustpomp- ously declared himself a "life- long Zionist" (fat chance) who is willing to "die for Israel" (even fatter chance), what Geraldo has really done is providedan advance justifica- tion for a Palestinian terrorist to target him. But no need to worry--the next time he goes to Israel, Geraldo will no doubt con- tinue to enjoy protection from Palestinian terrorists, courtesy of the Israel Defense Forces, upon whom he has been busy heaping scorn. Lesson twenty of the Gaza war: liberal pundits who justify terrorism are not only inviting attacks on Israel, but ultimately upon themselves. Moshe Phillips and Benga- rain Korn are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America. This article is part of a series. To view previous installments, please visit http://www.phillyreligiouszi- onists.org/lessons-from-the- gaza-war/. not by those who have an anti-European agenda. Given the present ambi- ance in Europe, it is under- standable that some of them will eventually decide to leave the continent. Thousands of French Jews have already done so, and more are on the way. We certainly respect their decision and will aid our brethren however we can. Beginning at the end of the 1980s, with the fall of communism, Jewish life has been revitalized in many cities in which no one would have believed there was a Jewish future--places such as War- saw and Vilnius, Bucharest and Sofia. At that time, no one questioned why Jews in Paris or elsewhere in Western Europewere livingwhere they were. That we have to do so today is a sad commentary on where we have come since then--70 years since the em- bers of the ovens of Auschwitz went cold. But we will never award Hitler and his modern- day disciples a posthumous victory by acquiescing to a Judenrein Europe. Today's fight is between supporters of Hamas and people who believe in de- cency, mutual respect and liberalism--all the best in European traditions. But Europeans will have to reach that conclusion themselves. The most thoughtful among them already understand that a continent in which Jews do not feel comfortable is not a healthy place for anyone. Robert Singer is the CEO of the World Jewish Congress, which represents Jewish communities in 100 coun- tries to governments, par- liaments and international organizations. Dry Bones