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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Michael Barclay

Why Counter-Protests Are Counter-Productive

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

I am the Rabbi in Westlake Village, Calif., where the Paul Kessler tragedy recently happened. Since Paul’s death, I have asked people to trust the police as this is a complicated situation and not as simple as the media has tried to make it. That trust has now been proven justified as charges have been leveled against a suspect for involuntary manslaughter and felony battery.

This tragedy is the result of pro-Palestinian/Hamas rallies that have been taking place weekly at a busy intersection since the war started in Israel, and Paul’s death is the direct result of a counter-protest being held in opposition at the same intersection at the same time. But a more important issue now is to understand why people should not be counter-protesting against these types of demonstrations at all.

Since these demonstrations started, I have sent emails to our congregation and written articles encouraging Jews and others supporting Israel to not go “counter-protest." These pro-Hamas rallies are filled with anger and traps to bait Jews into violence. My recommendation is not made out of fear, but out of strategy. Counter-protests are beyond a waste of time, and they hurt the long-term goals that need to be achieved.

There are only two goals right now that every person needs to keep present in their consciousness:

  1. Destroy Hamas and win the war, and that includes getting all of the hostages back.

  2. Win the battle for the hearts and minds of people so that they support Israel as opposed to Hamas.

As they scream for a free state of Palestine, these demonstrators don’t know that the “Palestinians” have repeatedly refused a two-state solution five times or that Israel disengaged and gave Gaza self-governance in 2005. The protestors need to realize that freeing the mythical country of Palestine, supporting Hamas, whose own charter calls for the “obliteration of all Jews and total destruction of Israel as well as the destruction of Western culture." Demonstrating for an organization that blatantly claims that its goal is to destroy Western culture is detrimental to themselves and as foolish as a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.

Win the physical war and help people realize the truth of the geo-politics. That’s it; it’s that simple. Those are the goals, and anything that deters from those goals is counter-productive. We must stay focused on winning the physical war and the spiritual battle.

This is why counter-protesting is actually counter-productive.

Why are people counter-protesting? To quote one congregant, “It feels good to be carrying the Israeli flag and marching with like-minded people." But the goal is not to “feel good”; we have a war to win. We can feel good when our goals are accomplished. Between now and then, we must stay focused on achieving those goals. So what can we do?

To win this war we must donate to causes in Israel that are in need. I like Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa because it is healing soldiers and civilians. The hospital desperately needs more medical equipment, and 100% of donations go straight to equipment as their staff and expenses are endowed, but Magen David Adom, which supplies ambulances and emergency services, and Zaka, which is often the first to arrive at any crisis in the world is also in need.

Through our synagogue and with the help of Sebastian Gorka, we have raised over $500,000 for medical equipment for Bnai Zion. Every pro-Israel organization, synagogue, or church in the country could do something similar. More money is needed for all the worthwhile causes that directly help Israel’s war effort. Instead of waving a flag on a corner, people can give their energy and finances to any of these and other causes in Israel. That is productive and makes a difference.

Standing on a corner opposite screaming pro-Hamas demonstrators is not going to win the battle of hearts and minds either. Just showing up and yelling pro-Israel slogans is not going to change even one of their minds. Instead, a planned rally could be held with speakers educating people about the lack of a historical Palestine. Information could be given about the realities of Hamas and a copy of the Covenant of 1988, the actual Hamas charter, handed out to attendees.

Giving this information out could create an “information army” to be used against the propaganda that these pro-Hamas demonstrators currently believe. It would potentially allow the minds of the pro-Hamas demonstrators to be changed as they realize that “queers for Palestine” is a statement supporting their own deaths at the hands of Hamas. Upon learning this information, from Hamas’ own charter, college students who currently think they are marching for equal rights in Palestine would be forced to recognize that Hamas wants a homogenous society based entirely on Sharia law. Leftists who mistakenly think that Israel is attacking hospitals could see video of Hamas tunnels and bases under hospitals where hostages have been kept.

If this information army was well prepared, think of how much good could be accomplished as the useful idiots demonstrating for a “free Palestine” realize the tremendous error they have been making. It wouldn’t feel as good as marching with friends on a beautiful fall Sunday morning, but doing this would actually be productive and make a difference.

Standing in counter-protest at intersections across the street from pro-Hamas fanatics doesn’t win the war or the battle for hearts and minds; it potentially puts Jewish lives in danger unnecessarily. It’s like little children yelling at each other in a sandbox; no one is going to change anyone’s minds or actions, and the children may get out of hand and become violent.

Instead, I recommend useful and strategic rallies with the clear purpose of winning the war and actually changing people’s attitudes. Waving a flag may feel good, but it doesn’t bring us closer to those goals. Moreover, when most people have stood on a corner waving a flag, they have less energy, desire, and bandwidth to attend a more strategic demonstration where education can happen and real progress against evil can be made. Like Rabbis throughout the centuries, I believe in being strategic and using our energy and resources most effectively.

There is a saying that “When angry you should count to 10. You’ll aim better." Especially with the new cease-fire/hostage deal, there will be more pro-Hamas demonstrations as their supporters try to help Hamas achieve success in this war. As these “activists” march and try to provoke confrontations, it becomes ever more important that we don't get angry, keep our focus on the goals of winning this war, and change the attitudes of the protestors who ignorantly support Hamas.

Everything else is superfluous and counter-productive.

May we all see both of these goals realized speedily and keep Israel, her soldiers and people, and America safe in this great battle that is not only for Israel and America but for the survival of Western culture.

Read Article at PJ Media

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