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      Op-Ed: The Hasbara Hijack

      Published: Friday, September 10, 2004 12:00 AM
      As the famous Zionist thinker Zeev Jabotinsky once said, "You can take the Jew out of the exile, but you can't take the exile out of the Jew." We have become so used to explaining ourselves to our oppressors that we have forgotten that we now have our own sovereign state and that we can stand on our own two feet.


      Hasbara, which means "explanation" in Hebrew, is the new user-friendly term for Israeli propaganda, even though it is not really propaganda. While propaganda strives to highlight the positive aspects of one side of a conflict, hasbara seeks to explain actions, whether or not they are justified.

      A brief look into our recent history shows the Jewish people must not trust the good will of any other nation. After 2,000 bitter years of exile, we have returned to rule over our land once more. Through the open miracles of 1948 and 1967, the people and Land of Israel where reunited. We swore that never again would we be subject to gentile rule, and that never again would we leave our precious land.

      Less than 60 years into the new Jewish commonwealth, we find ourselves explaining our actions and bowing to pressure from other nations. Why should this be so?

      As the famous Zionist thinker Zeev Jabotinsky once said, "You can take the Jew out of the exile, but you can't take the exile out of the Jew." We have become so used to explaining ourselves to our oppressors that we have forgotten that we now have our own sovereign state and that we can stand on our own two feet.

      In my opinion, hasbara has hijacked "pro-Israel" activism, putting justification for outrageous policies, like the new ghetto fence and the plan for a Jewish-free Gaza, before Jewish continuity and pride.

      Instead of educating our brothers and sisters about what it means to be part of our great nation, thereby curtailing assimilation and promoting their return to our homeland, we make them into parrots that justify our government's madness to the world.

      Hasbara, in place of real Jewish education, not only robs our youth of their birthright, it also gives them good reason to stay and "represent Israel" in their respective host countries. This bankrupts the very concept of Zionism, the Jews' right of return to Zion, and replaces it with a new form of prolonged exile.

      Throughout the ages, we were put on display and forced to prove Judaism's superiority over other religions - as a form of entertainment for the gentile nations. Yet, more often than not, when we where successful in our mission, a price was put on our heads for disgracing the gentiles' belief systems.

      Thousands of Jewish activists worldwide are being lost to this false messiah of explanation, when they could be organizing the incoming of the exiles, which would truly save Israel.

      Let us not forget that the very existence of the Jews, after all we have been through, is unexplainable without Divine intervention. Our contributions to humanity are far beyond those of any other nation.

      So what is there to explain?

      Must we justify our bringing monotheism and morals to the world?

      Must we apologize for our constant breakthroughs in the worlds of science, technology and the arts?

      Must we express regret for having survived holocaust after holocaust during 2000 years of exile?

      We need only explain our actions to ourselves and to G-d. We must explain why the Jewish people are still scattered around the globe and why, after 2,000 years of dispersion, we still have not leaned the lesson of the exile: United we stand; divided we fall.

      Appeasing the gentiles through explanation after explanation will not unite or protect the Jewish people - only unity and the fulfilment of our national purpose will!

      The time has come to leave propaganda efforts to the Israeli embassies worldwide, and to the millions of righteous pro-Israel gentiles who do not require our hasbara.

      Let us replace the Hebrew word hasbara with another Hebrew word - aliyah - which means "ascent," and is commonly used to describe Jews returning to Zion.

      As a new year begins, let us return to the original Jewish activism of Abraham and go up to the Land that G-d has shown us.