From the Daily Wire:
In part I of my interview with Hananya Naftali, we talked about serving in the IDF, the possibility of compromise between Israel and the Palestinians, and the biggest misconceptions Westerners have about Israel.
Here’s part II of my exclusive chat with the Israeli social media influencer.
Israel vs. The West
When we spoke about why many in the West — especially in Europe — seem to be so dead set against Israel, Naftali made a salient point, noting that once someone has settled upon their personal “truth,” it’s very difficult to change their mind:
“Years ago, Israel failed to properly explain itself; they failed to project the truth. I’ve heard from a lot a people that they didn’t see the truth in the media — and I’m quoting people who don’t hate Israel. They looked for the truth, and it was hard for them to find it. It was a failure. Obviously, it’s not like that today, but it’s very hard to tell the truth once people think that they know their truth.”
He also placed some of the blame on the United Nations:
“I think that the United Nations is biased against Israel because it is trying to be politically correct. It’s very easy to portray the weaker people as the victims; it’s very right in the eyes of the Western world. I think that’s ridiculous.” He added that “perhaps the U.N. is tending more to the Palestinian side because it’s getting a lot of money from Arab countries.”
Despite the U.N.’s stiff neck, Naftali said that Israel is “very happy to have Nikki Haley at the United Nations to tell the truth and to represent us. Something like that is powerful when it comes from an ally — someone who is not an Israeli, but knows the truth.”
“Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is on the rise,” Naftali stated flatly. “Only last week, we heard about the Al Quds march in London, and it’s shocking to hear statements like ‘We are fed up with the rabbis,’ ‘We are fed up with their synagogues,’ and ‘We are fed up with Zionists.’ It’s the most hateful anti-Semitic statement I’ve heard in a while in the streets of a capital city. It is evil.”
Al Quds Day, “which Iran initiated in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and opposition of Israel’s existence…is held on the last Friday of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
Speaking further of anti-Israel sentiment, Naftali said that he believes “people are so sure of their truth that they are unwilling to listen to anything else.”
He stated that while “the United States is very stable and strong in its opinion regarding anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism,” other nations are failing to speak the truth:
“If world leaders continue in their political correctness, they will fail to be leaders. They were put in their position to lead, and not be afraid of other peoples’ opinions. A great example of being politically correct — a few days ago, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, refused to answer a question regarding the Al Quds march, which supports Hezbollah, a well-known terrorist organization. Many leaders behave in this way, and it leads to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.”
“I think it’s time to stop this. People are going to be offended whether you say A or you say B. There will always be people who disagree, so the better choice is to not be politically correct.”
Is Peace Possible?
In a rather unexpected moment, Naftali said he indeed believes peace is achievable:
“I would say that peace is possible. I would also say the fewer countries that get involved, the better, because it’s something that Israel and the Palestinians should resolve themselves. When a lot of leaders get involved, it becomes more complicated, and harder to resolve. There are certain conditions that Israel will not compromise on, such as funding terror. I think that’s a basic demand. That said, I think peace is achievable.”
Change of Heart
Naftali noted that he’s not trying to change hardened hearts, but that his videos are made for “the people who have no opinion; the people that are not sure about what’s happening. I don’t target anti-Israeli people because they tend to be hateful, and not listen to your opinion.”
During our nearly hour-long interview, Naftali told me two remarkable stories that left me stunned:
“I have a few interesting stories regarding people who changed their opinion. I once got a message from an Egyptian student who told me that he intended to enter Israel via Jordan, and stab Jews — because that’s what society taught him, to hate Jews. Somehow, he stumbled on my videos, and he told me that his opinion was completely changed. Now he loves the Jews. I was incredibly touched by his story, but he has to keep his change of heart to himself because his society would kill him.”
“Another message I got was from a guy in Ramallah, which is where the Palestinian Authority is based. He sent me a message saying that his society taught him to hate Israel — that’s how he grew up — but he always felt like there was something they weren’t telling him. He found my content on YouTube, and he was fascinated by — first of all, seeing that I’m not a monster like his society portrays me — and seeing that I’m a human being, just like him. I want peace; I want to be loved.”
“He told me that he started to support Israel, but unfortunately, he’s not able to share it with anyone because he knows that as soon as he tells anybody that he loves Israel, that he supports the Jewish nation, he would get himself killed.”
“I’ve gotten messages from Palestinian people, from Egyptian people, from Iranian people. I know that within those countries, there are people that support Israel, but because of their society, they are not able to share it because they need to protect themselves.”
I made sure to ask about the notion that the Israeli government is at risk of becoming a theocracy — a seemingly common notion among progressives. When I brought up the idea, Naftali was incredulous: “In Israel, there is a complex of people with their opinions, and their cultures. When someone is elected, like Benjamin Netanyahu, he needs to build a coalition. He has to compromise; he has to give a stage to the Palestinian people, the Arab people, the Christian people, and the religious people.”
He noted that the right-wing religious parties could conceivably gain a majority, but even if they did, they would have to compromise, and build a coalition.
At the end of our conversation, I left the floor open for Naftali to say anything he wanted. He concluded with a direct and powerful message:
“I’d like to tell your readers not to listen to everything they hear in the media. It’s very easy to twist the truth — to put some videos together, or to take some words out of context. It happens a lot. Israel is the Western world’s base in the Middle East. We share common values. As the Middle East is on fire — with the civil war in Syria, and the terrorist organizations that are building themselves with the help of Iran — Israel remains the most stable country in the region.
“I would encourage your readers to read more about what’s happening in the Middle East because it’s very interesting how Israel is able to remain stable, how Israel is able to remain humane, and how Israel promotes the Palestinians. They live among us, and I, as an Israeli, want their good; I love them, and I cannot hate them because they are human beings, just like me.”
Click the respective links to follow Hananya Naftali on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. I highly recommend it. He’s a strong voice for Israel, and someone who’s presence will make an indelible impact in the coming years.