“Thank you for taking a machete to the thicket of lies,” stated Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, in praise of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) at its June 14 gala in Washington, DC. Before a Grand Hyatt Hotel ballroom filled with America’s pro-Israel leaders, the exceptional speakers addressing EMET’s eleventh annual Rays of Light in the Darkness dinner indicated EMET’s rising importance as an Israel public advocate.
EMET founder and President Sarah Stern introduced the evening as “our most successful dinner yet,” a note of optimism befitting her own personal reflections on Israel’s history of triumphing over disaster. She recalled her namesake Aunt Sarah brutally massacred along with her Polish village by the Nazis in 1939. Her loss in the Holocaust manifested that before Israel’s existence “Jews were left utterly vulnerable and defenseless. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.”
Fifty years after the Six Day War, Stern recalled that in 1967 the “fledgling Jewish state was left totally isolated and on her own. Just 22 years after the Holocaust, it seemed that another Holocaust might be inevitable.” In her White Plains, New York, childhood home she remembered the “almost palpable tension in the air. We kept our television set on that Shabbat, something totally unheard of in my strictly Orthodox Jewish home.” “It is difficult to describe the sheer relief bordering on euphoria” after Israel’s miraculous victory, as demonstrated by her brother, who began proudly wearing his yarmulke without a baseball cap for concealment.
Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and prominent public defender of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), similarly praised EMET. In this “phenomenal organization…they go from strength to strength,” he stated, while noting the importance of the acronym EMET’s meaning in Hebrew, namely truth. “In the Middle East, lies have become the central pillar of our enemies’ efforts against us.”
Kemp decried a widespread “weakness of the West,” particularly in relation to Palestinian leaders who “want only destruction of the Jewish state.” “For decades we have tried reasoning with the Palestinians, making concessions, patronizing them, it hasn’t worked and it won’t work. They see it as weakness, and weakness provokes them.” In contrast, he offered a policy of strength, noting that “Israel cannot withdraw its forces from Judea and Samaria and have a hope of survival” and that therefore “there cannot be a two-state solution.”
Dermer’s address similarly focused on Israel’s struggle with an “alternative universe of real lies with real consequences” where “Jews are the occupiers of Judea, the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian territory.” “In this alternative universe, Iran’s path to the bomb has been blocked. In the real world, Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb has been paved.” A “propaganda campaign conducted by a master of fiction manufactured moderation and filled echo chambers with nonsense” in order to achieve President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
EMET honoree Nadiya Al-Noor, a self-professing Muslim Zionist and “queer Muslim woman” with a Jewish father, discussed her own personal journey away from anti-Israel propaganda. “It saddens me that simply being a Muslim who does not hate Israel is considered award-worthy” today, she noted, but “unfortunately, antisemitism is a huge problem in the Muslim community, fueled by anti-Israel propaganda.” “College campuses these days are hotbeds of antisemitism under the guise of anti-Zionism” where once she “believed their hateful lies: Israel was an apartheid state; Israel is Nazi Germany 2.0; Zionism was racism.”
Yet EMET honoree Ashraf Halabi, a Druze IDF veteran, showed that Israel had non-Jewish allies as boisterous applause greeted his podium appearance in IDF uniform. He recounted always hearing while growing up amidst this Israeli minority Arab community that the “Jews and the Druze are blood brothers.” Noting that his family has contributed over 100 years of military service to Israel, he stated that “our loyalty is unconditional. We have no other country.”
Republican North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows and Democratic California Congressman Juan Vargas demonstrated strong Christian Zionism irrespective of the few Jewish voters in their districts. “My wife and I have a passion for Israel and the Jewish people,” Meadows stated. “In what many would call an evangelical congressional district, I can get a standing applause when I tell them that I will unyielding and unflinching stand with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Concurring with Kemp and Stern, Meadows opposed Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), as the “middle of Israel would be about the size of the Dallas airport; it would be indefensible.” He also rejected the common mischaracterization as mere “settlements” of irrevocably established Israeli communities in territories won by Israel in 1967. “The image that we have of the settlement is this little tiny hut with a little lean-to. They are not settlements, they are subdivisions.”
Meanwhile Vargas proudly proclaimed how he was the first Democratic legislator to oppose Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran, an action that reflected his religious background. During his five years of seminary study when he once prepared for the priesthood, “I grew up with this love for Israel and Jerusalem in particular because of what I heard and believed in every Sunday” in Old Testament Bible readings. Common calls for Israel to withdraw to the “67 lines” provoke him to joke that Israel “is one of the few countries that existed in the world in 67” A.D.; “when people say we should go back to the 67 lines, I am OK with that.”
The master of ceremonies, conservative commentator and “president of the Gentile wing of the international Zionist conspiracy” Cal Thomas, and a video address by Senator Jim Inhofe rounded out yet another EMET truth-telling banquet. Israel’s enemies can be modern Goliaths, yet EMET’s small staff and their supporters skillfully punch above their weight. Supporters of Israel and its contributions to the free world should take note of this mighty little Zionist David.