By rallying, we can counter the hate against Israel, Jews

Once again, we see in America’s streets the troubling calculus of anti-Jewish hatred. As opposition to Israel’s Gaza operation grows more heated, protests in some quarters have taken on a murderous tone. Once criticism of Israel morphs into anti-Semitism, the Jewish community must take action.

In a story this week, we report on anti-Semitic hate speech heard at rallies, locally and across the country. Some have called for the random killing of Jews, others for dropping a nuclear bomb on Israel.

Americans should have zero tolerance for such hate speech.

This is a free country, but no one is free to incite murder. Fortunately, groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council have been on the case, working with the media and drawing on longstanding interfaith alliances to lower the heat.

Israel, and by extension the worldwide Jewish community, understood that Israel would take a public relations hit as the Gaza fight wore on. Civilian casualties shown on TV — thanks in part to Hamas’ shameless exploitation of them — cannot help but sicken viewers. The blowback against Israel, much of it unfair, has been harsh and unrelenting.

Blame for calamities like the shelling of the U.N. school in Gaza must be placed where it belongs: at the feet of Hamas, which fires rocket from schools, homes and mosques, and which routinely puts its own people in peril.

Unfortunately, too few perceive this truth, and instead see Israel as the aggressor. Our task is to make clear that there is more to the story than shocking news footage alone.

We as a community will never persuade all the doubters of Israel’s just cause. But we must continue to present Israel’s side of the story and show our solidarity with the Israeli people.

Though we hope the cease-fire now under discussion becomes a turning point, we have no reason to trust Hamas, and thus we fear the fight will go on. So we are encouraged to see Bay Area synagogues and Jewish agencies coalescing, formulating strategies to push back against the anti-Israel forces and get out the pro-Israel message.

As we go to press, communitywide meetings are set to take place, with the goals of shaping those strategies. As a result, we may see more rallies of our own. We may see an even more assertive media strategy. We may see more solidarity missions, like the one next week when Modern Orthodox rabbis from across the country depart for a show of support in Israel.

It all adds up, and we applaud all local efforts. Israel needs our help. Let us answer the call.