Here are the ten most-read posts that were published in The Tower during 2018. This selection gives a picture of the stories that were most important to supporters of Israel over the course of the year.
This op-ed by Petra Marquardt-Bigman was published January 5, 2018, told the story of the Ahed Tamimi and her extended family. At the time, the teenager was about to stand trial for slapping an Israeli soldier and was the subject of sympathetic media coverage around the world. Marquardt-Bigman, however, argued that neither Tamimi, nor her relatives were sympathetic victims, but rather advocates for, and, sometimes, perpetrators of horrific acts of terror.
In her conclusion, Marquatdt-Bigman wrote, “Ahed Tamimi cannot be blamed for the childhood she had. But the media can be blamed for ignoring the Tamimis’ ardent support for terrorism. By deceiving people about the Tamimis’ agenda and methods, their supporters only reinforce the family’s efforts to cynically exploit their children to ignite a “third intifada” – a Palestinian uprising to bring about the replacement of the world’s only Jewish state with yet another Arab-Muslim majority country.
On May 16, 2018, one and a half months into the violent Hamas-led riots called the Great March of Return, things appeared to be getting out of hand, but then, according to Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, an Egyptian official warned Hamas not to escalate the violence.
“Haniyeh returned to Gaza, Hamas gave an order … and miraculously, this spontaneous protest by a public that could not handle the situation any more dissipated,” Katz told Israeli Radio.
Earlier in the month, Julie Lenarz, Senior Fellow at The Israel Project, produced a backgrounder in which she explained, “However, the riots are just a smokescreen for Hamas’s true intention: the total rejection of a Jewish presence in all of Israel. The terror group uses the riots to try to attack and kidnap Israelis. Hamas has developed an extensive tunnel network and has been training naval commandos for such operations. They have been testing Israeli defenses for weeks, including with IEDs along the border, kites carrying burning fuel into Israel, and infiltrations.”
The news that Gov. Matt Bevin signed an executive barring the state of Kentucky from doing business with any entity that boycotted Israel was posted November 16, 2018. Kentucky thus became the 26th state to enact a law opposing the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) campaign.
Josh Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project, released a statement saying, “The Israel Project is grateful to Governor Bevin for his strong leadership in fighting against BDS discrimination. For years, Israel – and only Israel – has been targeted by this deceptive attempt to delegitimize its very right to exist. BDS proponents do not seek a better life for the Palestinians, nor do they aim to create a political environment favorable to a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors. Their true aim is the destruction of the Jewish state.”
For the past two months the national leadership of the Women’s March has been under increased scrutiny for their anti-Semitic statements, as well as their ties to hate preacher Louis Farrakhan. On November 8, 2018 The Tower posted that actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano had said in a recent interview that she would not speak at the upcoming Women’s March in Washington D.C. as long as the organization’s national leadership defended “bigotry or anti-Semitism.”
Shortly afterward, fellow actress and activist Debra Messing tweeted her support for Milano’s stand.
In defending recently elected Rep. Ilhan Omar, who supports BDS, Linda Sarsour, a co-chair of the Women’s March, complained on Facebook that Omar was “being attacked for saying that she supports BDS and the right for people to engage in constitutionally protected freedoms,” a post appearing November 19 recounted.
“This is not only coming from the right-wing,” Sarsour continued, “but some folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”
The American Jewish Committee responded, “Accusing Jews of dual loyalty is one of the oldest and most pernicious antisemitic tropes. No surprise to see it coming from @LSarsour. How long will progressive leaders continue to look the other way in the face of this hate?”
As the Great March of Return ended its first week, Hamas ordered Gazans to gather thousands of tires, with the intent of setting them on fire and creating smoke to obscure the vision of Israeli troops guarding the border.
In an effort to forestall this, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), wrote in a letter to the World Health Organization, “This is a serious environmental issue that will harm the health of the residents and will cause unprecedented air pollution.”
Hamas ended up setting the tires ablaze creating massive clouds of smoke.
In subsequent months, the rioters started launching flaming objects over the border with Israel setting over 81,000 acres of wooded land and farmland on fire. This led the World Jewish Congress to send a petition in October with 22,000 signatures to the United Nation Environmental Program calling on the body to condemn “this environmental warfare” carried out by Hamas and to “take all necessary measures to ensure that these illegal activities will be stopped immediately.”
The Tower’s Senior Editor David Gerstman reviewed the movie, Wish You Weren’t Here, director Ian Halperin’s devastating critique of Roger Waters, one of the leading proponents of the BDS campaign in the entertainment industry.
“We have to take him seriously in that he is still one of the top-drawing artists in the world, he comes from a legendary band, Pink Floyd, and, so he comes with a lot of credibility in terms of his track record in music,” David Rezner, the CEO of Spirit Music and co-founder of Creative Community for Peace, explained to Halperin. Whenever an artist announces an intent to visit Israel, Waters will target him and pressure him not to perform in Israel, using that credibility.
Jon Bon Jovi, who recently announced that his band would return to perform in Tel Aviv next year, told Waters in 2015, when he first played in Israel, “I’m coming to Israel and I’m excited to come.”
Op-ed contributor, Karen Bekker, observed that Food and Wine, an industry publication, awarded Reem’s, an Oakland bakery, with the honor of “Restaurant of the Year,” despite the bakery’s display of a mural of Rasmeah Odeh, the convicted killer of two young Jewish men. She also noted that CNN named Linda Sarsur to its list of “25 Influential American Muslims,” despite her literal embrace of Odeh, and her support for Louis Farrakhan.
“What are American Jews to take away from these two mainstream outlets lauding individuals who have made no effort to hide their support for the likes of Odeh and Farrakhan?” Bekker asked. “Such associations, it would seem, are no longer disqualifying.”
In one of its most brutal assaults on Israel in recent years, firing nearly 500 rockets into Israel in a single day, Hamas tentatively agreed to a ceasefire, a Tower post dated November 13 reported. Despite the aggression of the terror group, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was doing all it could to avoid another Gaza war.
Also despite its rocket barrages, the United Nations General Assembly in early December failed to condemn the Hamas terror campaign despite a majority of countries supporting a condemnation of the terrorist group. A last-minute maneuver required the condemnation to garner two-thirds of the vote, not just a simple majority.
The licensee of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in Israel refused to carry the brand’s new Pecan Resistance flavor, according to a post dated November 1. The flavor was promoted by, among others, anti-Israel activist, Linda Sarsour.
In a statement posted to its Facebook page, Ben & Jerry’s Israel said, “All of the products sold in Israel are made in a factory located in Beer Tuviya…. We buy our milk and cream only from Israeli producers. We have no connection to the decisions made by the global brand, and we don’t get involved in local or world politics.”