Child killer, organ harvester, Nazi, Occupier, blood thirsty murderers. These are just some of the words some people use to describe the soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces.
As a pro-Israel advocacy group here in Brussels, you would quite rightly expect us to take a completely different view.
And we do. We support the Israel Defence Forces, for any number of reasons. And we find the insults thrown at them disgusting and reprehensible, particularly as those accusing them have no idea what they are talking about, nor the reality on the ground for these brave men and women.
So, when the opportunity came, EIPA was delighted to partner with My Truth, an organisation of serving IDF reserve soldiers who wanted, like us, to inform and share their stories.
The “Human Shields” project of My Truth, which we presented to the European Parliament this week, describes the cynical use made by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups, of their civilian population as human shields. “A terrorist who throws a grenade under the cover of small children, or women who stand in the line of fire to absorb the fire themselves are few examples of the human rights violations committed by the terror organizations,” says Avihai Shorshan, My Truth’s director.
“We want to tell the whole world who are the real war criminals in this conflict. We must put an end to the slanders and lies being levelled against our soldiers around the world,” he added.
Our event, kindly sponsored by EPP MEP Ramona Manescu and Socialist MEP Andi Cristea, was aimed at getting an understanding beyond the clichés and emotional rhetoric.
None of us really know what goes on in a conflict, and thank goodness most of us will never have to.
We may agree or disagree with the conflict, but what isn’t up for debate are the experiences in dealing with human shields, with an enemy that doesn’t respect basic humanity, and that put their own citizens in the way of harm cynically and deliberately.
We were delighted to see a packed room, where parliamentarians including senior figures like Victor Bostinaru and Fulvio Martusciello attended and spoke freely, underlining that the EU must do more to counter the terrorist narratives.
A lively question and answer session followed with EU diplomats and members of the European External Action service, for the first time, having the opportunity to ask soldiers directly of their experiences instead of getting filtered news.
EIPA would like to thank Gilad Segal, Eli Bogdan, Lital Shemesh and Avihai Shorshan for having the courage and tenacity to address the European Parliament, an institution that is often behind many ill-informed resolutions and positions on Israel on the realities faced by an enemy that doesn’t adhere to the most basic and common moral or legal conventions.
It is our firm intention to work with My Truth again again after the European Elections so they can give their testimonies again to a new generation of parliamentarians and their staffers from across the EU Member States.