My brother in arms

Life lately has been worrisome for me. My younger brother Myles Gawronsky, who is about to turn 20, is an American volunteer soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces. He’s in an elite combat unit called Palsar Golani.

So when I heard that Israel assassinated Ahmed Al-Jabari, Hamas’ military commander who led the rocket attacks against Israel, I knew this would be the beginning of something bad.

It’s very difficult to see what’s happening, and it’s difficult trying to explain to people why I support Israel.

Beyond this being a personal issue which causes me a great deal of distress at times, beyond my brother being in the IDF and my constant concern for his and the rest of Israel’s safety, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to explain to people why I support Israel, and why it should be supported.

When all you see are bombed buildings, dead women and children in Gaza, and a media blitz that is lopsided and biased to a hijacked Palestinian cause, supporting Israel is a hard sell.

I used to live in Israel, and I’ve seen this conflict firsthand. The first time I was there, in the summer of 2006, I volunteered on a kibbutz in the north of Israel, during the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, a terrorist organization bent on destroying Israel. I was five kilometers from the border of Lebanon.

The steady rhythm of Katyusha rockets and F16 fighter jets flying over in droves to Lebanon and back became a regular part of life. The rumble of Merkava tanks slogging through the distant orchards could be felt in your feet.

One time, a few years later while I was living in Jerusalem, I was on a busy boulevard in the city center. While sitting and having lunch, I noticed an abandoned bag.

A couple of questions and a few phone calls later, a bomb squad came in, and the huge crowds in the street were pushed away, mesmerized by the threat. A loud thud an hour later, a controlled detonation, let us know how close we came to a very sudden and meaningless death.

When I hear people tell me that Israel is committing war crimes, genocide, and ethnic cleansing, I find myself nearly speechless. I think of my brother.

He’s not a criminal—he’s a kid who grew up in Los Angeles, enjoyed paintballing and hanging out with his friends. He’s not a murderer, so what is everyone talking about?

Israel is engaged in a war with Hamas right now, yet another terrorist organization sworn to destroying Israel. They’re not interested in peace treaties, recognizing Israel, or giving an inch of mercy.

They deliberately fire rockets from civilian centers in Gaza into civilian centers in Israel, with the intent of killing as many Jewish people as they can. They make no distinction between men, women or children.

So when people accuse Israel of killing children—babies—what are they saying exactly? Are they truly aware of how Hamas has made Gaza numb to death, or is it just easy to look away and blame Israel?

Are they aware of Hamas’ charter, which states: “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Are they aware of the culture of suicide and martyrdom that is rampant in Gaza? If you’ve never been to, I think you owe it to yourself to enlighten yourself on the difference between Israel and Hamas.

The essential difference is this: Israel is trying to defend itself, and is forced to fight a war against an insurgency that makes a regular practice of using women and children as human shields.

Hamas is on a religious mission to destroy Israel, to kill as many Jews as possible, and to finish Adolf Hitler’s final solution—all in the name of a religion that they’ve hijacked.

They don’t represent Palestinian interests, based off of the the simple fact that they treat their own people as cannon fodder. The more Palestinians they can get killed by Israel’s self defense, the easier it is to spread the great lie of Israeli aggression.

These lies have to stop. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, famously used to say that if you tell a lie often enough, it will begin to resemble truth. And I see that happening in this situation.

Israel at this moment is not at war with Palestine. They are at war with Hamas. Palestinians don’t want this (at least I hope they don’t). Consider for a moment how you don’t see rockets being shot into Israel from the West Bank.

The last time I saw my brother was a few months ago, in September. He told me as he left about how before he joined the IDF, he thought he would not be afraid of war, how he felt fearless. Now, as he called me on the phone Tuesday evening to update me, I could hear the strain in his voice. He’s 20, but much older now.

“If there is a war, I’d be scared,” Myles told me.