7 points of Jewish activism highlight ways to aid Israel

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

For many Jews around the world, one of the most frustrating aspects of the current violence in Israel is the seeming inability to do something about the situation. Dazed by daily reports of terror, concerned Jews are largely at a loss as to how they can help, even in some small way, during this difficult period.

Such feelings are entirely understandable, for one often gets the sense that no matter what Israel seems to do, its predicament only grows worse. But such thinking is neither productive nor beneficial, because the last thing the Jewish people need right now is despair. Instead, we must all focus our energies on doing what we can to lift Israel's spirits and help it contend with an increasingly volatile and uncertain situation.

Though far from revolutionary, here are some simple and practical suggestions as to what you can do to help. They are what I refer to as the "Seven P's of Jewish Activism":

*Point and click. The first task is to better educate ourselves and our communities about events in Israel. The Internet provides a range of useful sources for getting a more accurate picture of what is really happening in the Jewish state. A few useful sites are the Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com)/, Arutz-7 (www.israelnationalnews.com) and IMRA (www.imra.org.il). Visit such sites and recommend them to friends — you will be amazed at how people's eyes can be opened when they start to get the real picture about what is going on.

*Publish your views. Once you have a better grasp of the facts, don't hesitate to speak out. No Jewish organization or Israeli consulate can fight the propaganda war on every front, so don't assume that it will. Pick up your pen, or your keyboard, and start writing. Whether it is a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or an ongoing dialogue in an Internet chat room, your contribution may affect someone else's views. Share your success stories with others and turn yourself and your friends into roving ambassadors on Israel's behalf.

*Protest media bias. The mainstream media are replete with anti-Israel bias and sloppy reporting. Don't let them get away with it. If you see something that offends you, let the editor know, tersely and politely. For resources and ideas on combating media bias, check out Honest Reporting (www.honestreporting.com), CAMERA (www.camera.org) and CNN-Watch (www.cnnwatch.org).

*Provide assistance. If you are able to provide financial support, there are many worthwhile organizations working to address the problems caused by the current intifada. The Israel Crisis Management Center, based in Tel Aviv (phone: (03) 544-5161), assists new immigrants who have been victimized by terrorist attacks — including the families of those killed in the Tel Aviv disco bombing — with grants, loans and volunteer counseling. A group called Helping Israel (www.helpingisrael.com/) has an extensive list of medical and security supplies required by Jewish communities that have borne the brunt of the Palestinian violence, such as those in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Sending money, even in small sums, is a tangible and meaningful way of demonstrating your support.

*Pressure representatives. Wherever you live, your views as a citizen need to be heard by your elected representatives. In many instances, American congressional offices keep tabs on the quantity of mail they receive on particular issues as a way of measuring their relative importance to their constituency. Find out who your elected officials are and urge them to publicly express their support for Israel during these difficult times.

*Pay a visit. The recent flap over the cancellation of Israel summer programs had a sharply negative impact on relations between Israel and the diaspora. There is no better way to demonstrate your solidarity than by boarding a plane and paying a visit to the Holy Land. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat needs to know that he cannot succeed in scaring Jews away, and your visit will help to send him that message.

*Pray for help. The Jewish people have always turned to their Father in Heaven as a source of strength and support. No prayer goes to waste, and regardless of your level of observance, consider adding a request for Israel to your regular (or even irregular) prayer regimen. Whether in the privacy of your home or in the pews of your local synagogue, make the crisis in Israel the focus of your thoughts.

While these suggestions may not offer a panacea to all of Israel's ills, they do provide each of us with a practical means of fending off frustration and doing something concrete to improve the situation. Even if our actions do not appear to influence the overall outcome of events, by getting more involved on behalf of the Jewish people we do succeed in changing ourselves. And that, in and of itself, is already an important victory.