Commentary | A disgraceful protest

Anti-IDF rally missed the mark

On Wednesday, November 3, the Jewish Studies Student Association and the Birth-right Alumni program hosted a free pizza lunch with three Israeli soldiers in the Jewish Studies building, on a tour to visit the Jewish community of Montreal, as part of a meeting with McGill students. What was meant as a friendly casual event to promote Birthright, a program that provides Jewish students with a free trip to Israel, degenerated into a shameful display of hypocrisy, bigotry, and sheer hatred.

Anti-Israel activists disrupted the event as protesters gathered outside to scream slogans like, “Free, free Palestine!” and “IDF, you can’t hide, we can see your genocide.” Really? Genocide? I’ve yet to hear of a genocidal army warning civilians in advance of its military operations, through local radio broadcasts and over 165,000 phone calls, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Israel dropped over 2,500,000 leaflets over Gaza, warning civilians to stay away from military targets. During the conflict, 1,511 trucks carrying 37,162 tonnes of supplies entered Gaza from Israel. As Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, testified before the Goldstone Commission: “During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” This should make it abundantly clear that Wednesday’s protesters were more motivated by hatred for Israel than by a commitment to facts.

The IDF operates under very strict moral conditions. When you are fighting an enemy who hides in civilian populations, who launches rockets from schools and hospitals, and stores weapons in mosques, civilian casualties are inevitable. Yet I’ve never heard a word of protest from these same activists when over 10,000 rockets fell on Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and other Israeli cities. If they want to protest genocidal aspirations, they should start with Hamas, whose charter makes its goal abundantly clear: “The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take… ‘The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him…’”

That is why Israeli soldiers fight: to protect the Jewish people and the State of Israel from those who would wish to do us away. There can be no peace or compromise with an enemy who has no respect for the value of life, who straps bombs to their own children in the hope that they will murder Jews, and who is wholly committed to your destruction. The Jewish people lived for a long time without an army to defend us, and we don’t have to be ashamed of our moral right to protect ourselves. The shame belongs to Wednesday’s protesters, not to the IDF.

Russell Sitrit-Leibovich is a U1 Political Science student and a senior Hasbara fellow. Write him at