Emet means “truth” in Hebrew. EMET is also the acronym for the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank whose top priority is challenging the pervasive lies told about Israel. It seeks to influence policymakers, U.S. senators, House members and their staffers.
In keeping with its mission, EMET honors courageous truth tellers for Israel at its annual “Rays of Light in the Darkness” dinner. At the suggestion of my friend Eytan Laor, an EMET board member, I attended this year’s dinner on June 14 and found it incredibly inspiring.
The cocktail hour offered opportunities to meet and talk with members of Congress and staffers involved with key pieces of pro-Israel legislation. During dinner, after singing “Hatikvah” and the “Star-Spangled Banner,” we were treated to several passionate speakers beginning with EMET founder Sarah Stern.
The first Speaker of Truth Award recipient to speak was journalist, media commentator and retired British army officer Col. Richard Kemp, a renowned defender of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
A case in point: After the U.N. released the Goldstone Report, which claimed the IDF engaged in “war crimes” during Operation Cast Lead, Kemp told the U.N. Human Rights Council, “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.”
Kemp told the EMET audience, “In the Middle East, lies have become the central pillar of our enemies’ strategy against us.
“The problem is that so many of our political leaders, human rights organizations and media cannot recognize this tactic that’s being used against us — this tactic of lies. They believe the lies about Israeli war crimes and oppressions. They believe the lies about so-called occupation and so-called illegal settlements. They even believe the most preposterous lies that deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
“This is why I believe the Israel-Palestine conflict has worn on for so long and threatens to wear on and on, without resolution. We do not understand that we have repeatedly shown weakness. Instead of telling the truth with strength and courage, we have met lies with weakness and fear.”
Yet, he said, “We know the truth. We know the Palestinian leadership will not accept any peace with Israel short of outright capitulation.
“Whatever the true intentions of the Palestinians, a brief look around the Middle East will confirm in the mind of any military man … that withdrawal would equal suicide.”
Kemp said, “For decades, we’ve 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 and emboldens them to demand more and give less. We have to try a different approach. Above all, we must find a way to make the Palestinian leaders pay the price. No more concessions. No more providing hope for their warlike ways. If we continue to appease and excuse them, we simply encourage them to carry on killing, maiming and provoking war.”
Kemp concluded with this assertion: “A hardline approach putting pressure on both Palestinians and Arab states alike will ally truth — the truth of emet — with strength and courage … and has a far greater chance of allowing the people of Israel and Palestine to live in some form of long-term peace rather than the failed appeasement of the past decade.”
Following Col. Kemp, speeches by four additional EMET Speaker of Truth Award recipients ensued. These included Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe (by video), U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), and Muslim Zionist Nadiya Al-Noor.
Also, former Druze IDF soldier Ashraf Halabi received the Hakarat Hatov Award. Halabi, whose father was the first Druze to enlist in the IDF and whose six siblings also served, said, “Picture us on Israel’s Independence Day, with the flag of the State of Israel hanging from our cars and waving from our homes and rooftops … This is the education we grow up on and receive. The love of the homeland, the love of the flag and the love of the land that is our country.”
Speaker of Truth Award recipient Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., characterized the lies told about Israel as not merely alternative facts but “an alternative universe about Israel, an alternative universe of real lies with real consequences.
“In this alternative universe,” he said, “the Jews are the occupiers of Judea, the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian territory and the Jewish people have no rights in a land that we have lived in for nearly 4,000 years and to a capital that we have faced in prayer for over 2,000 years.
“In this alternative universe, Israel is routinely accused of being a racist, apartheid state, despite being the only country in the Middle East where Arabs are free, despite being the only country in history that took blacks out of Africa to freedom, and despite being the only country that has treated enemies bent on its destruction more compassionately than any country in history, period.”
Dermer added, “In this alternative universe, President Abbas can step to the podium and accuse Israel of genocide to wild applause. Genocide is what’s happening to Christians in the Middle East. A century ago, Christians accounted for 20 percent of the Middle East; today that number is under 4 percent and dropping with only one exception. The only country with a growing and thriving Christian community is in the State of Israel, where it is five times bigger today than it was in 1948.”
As to Abbas’ claim of genocide against his people, Dermer said, “Genocide against the Palestinians? A population that under Israel’s control has tripled in size. Some genocide.”
Dermer said: “In this alternative universe, the Palestinian leadership can be cast as peacemakers despite rejecting every peace offer for decades and despite naming public squares after killers, educating their children to hate Jews and paying terrorists to murder Jews.”
He next addressed the threat of a nuclear Iran. “The truth is that as dangerous as the daily lies in this alternative universe are, they pale in comparison to the dangers of the alternative universe that was created a couple of years ago to sell the nuclear deal with Iran to the American people.
“In this alternative universe, Iran’s path to the bomb has been blocked. In the real world, Iran’s path to the bomb has been paved.”
What’s more, money supposedly being used to help Iran “is being used to gobble up countries in the region and arm and finance its terror proxies in the Middle East and beyond,” he added.
“Israel and the Trump administration must deal with the fallout … and we will,” he said. “We will deal with it because we must. Deal or no deal, America and Israel must stop Iran’s clear path to the bomb.”
Dermer ended his remarks with this: “We need organizations like EMET that are fearless in exposing the lies and standing up for the truth.”
By Sheryl Silver, a former national secretary of ZOA, founder of the Enough is Enough Initiative and a lifelong Temple Israel member.