From The Daily Wire:
Hananya Naftali is a social media influencer. With a combined Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube following of over 175,000 people from across the world, the 21-year-old Naftali uses his status to advocate for the state of Israel.
The following is part I of a fascinating two-part interview with Hananya Naftali.
As is the case with all Israeli citizens, Naftali was conscripted into the IDF after graduating high school. He worked as a combat medic during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, and was promoted to First Sergeant upon completion of his service.
It was his experience in the military that brought him to activism:
“I started after the Gaza war in 2014. As a soldier, and as an Israeli who actually fought in Gaza, I was irritated by what I saw in the international media — how they portrayed the Palestinians, and how they portrayed us, the soldiers, as monsters. These were lies. I told myself that if no one would tell the truth, maybe I could tell the truth about Israel as someone who was there.”
It was at that point that Naftali began his advocacy through social media — mainly on YouTube.
The International Media
“The way international media outlets like to cover stories from Israel is by portraying the Palestinian people as victims. For example, the Hadas Malka terror attack that happened at Damascus Gate. Obviously, Hadas is not a terrorist — she was a policewoman — and still, the media outlets chose the title: ‘Three Palestinians Were Shot Dead After Stabbing Attack.’ That’s true, but it’s twisting the story to make the readers think that we are the bad guys.”
On June 16, Staff-Sergeant Major Hadas Malka was stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist while on patrol near Damascus Gate. She passed away shortly after being taken to the hospital.
“The same thing happened during the Gaza war,” Naftali said. “They were putting us in a bad light. They would say that we bombed innocent targets, that we killed innocent people — but Hamas is hiding in those buildings. They hide in hospitals, they hide in schools.”
Naftali recalled that as a tanker, his superiors told him verbatim: “Do not harm innocent civilians. That’s a command.” That said, he noted that “protecting Israel, stopping Hamas from entering Israeli territory, attacking civilians, and firing rockets” sometimes necessitated collateral damage.
“That was the reality. They were hiding their launchers in schools, hospitals — United Nations schools. Just a few weeks ago, the UNRWA reported that they found a Hamas tunnel under two U.N. schools. And that’s the reality.”
Hamas is known to deliberately base themselves in schools and hospitals in order to use Palestinian civilians as human shields.
I asked Naftali what he believes are the biggest misconceptions the West has about Israel, and more specifically, the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic. His first answer pertained to the allegation that Israel is an “apartheid” state:
“I think there are some misconceptions. Claiming Israel is an apartheid state, and that we don’t give full rights to Palestinians is ridiculous. As a combat medic, I served in the West Bank — also known as Judea and Samaria — and most of the people I gave medical attention to were Palestinians.”
He also mentioned the freedom Palestinians have in Israel, but offered a dark picture of the dangers Israelis face in their own land:
“At five in the morning, I was able to see thousands of Palestinians entering Israel to work for Israeli companies. The Palestinians are free; they can go wherever they want. It’s actually Israelis who cannot go wherever they want. If you ever come to Israel, you’ll see signs that say, ‘Warning: Israelis Cannot Enter This Palestinian Area — and if you do, you endanger your life.’ So, it’s a complete misconception to say that Israel is an apartheid state. All you have to do is come to Israel to see the truth for yourself.”
Naftali next spoke about Israel’s wall:
“The second misconception I hear a lot relates to the wall — and it ties to the apartheid state. People say that Israel built a wall to stop the Palestinians. Some even say that Israel constructed the wall to build a ghetto where the Palestinians are. That’s not true. The wall was built to stop terrorists from invading Israeli territory and attacking Israeli civilians. The wall is not meant to keep the Palestinians inside a ghetto; it’s meant to stop terror, it’s meant to stop terrorists, and it’s very saddening that the Palestinian people are suffering because of the actions of Palestinian terrorists.”
“It’s a complicated issue,” Naftali admitted. “It’s true that Palestinians are living in the Judea and Samaria, and it’s not humane to just tell them to leave, and to kick them out. However, that isn’t Israel’s agenda. Israel’s agenda is to try to find a solution to live in coexistence. In the meantime, Israel’s agenda is to not let terrorists attack, and to stop President Abbas from funding terror.”
“My opinion on the settlements is that they are Jewish land. The Bible is not just a holy book for Christians and Jews, it’s an historical book. If you go to the West Bank, into Samaria, it used to be an ancient Jewish city — you can see the ruins there. If you go to Rachel’s Tomb, Hebron — which is populated mainly by Palestinians — it used to be one of Israel’s capitals in the ancient times. It’s obvious that Jews have lived in those places, in the land of the Judea and Samaria, but now many Palestinians live there. That’s a fact.”
While Naftali stated that “finding a solution is not easy,” he added that he doesn’t believe “settlements are an obstacle to peace.” This notion is bolstered by the fact that in the years following Israel’s unilateral evacuation of all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip, the area has been used as a launch pad for Hamas to strike Israel repeatedly.
A real obstacle to peace is “President Abbas giving aid money to terrorists,” stated Naftali.
Regarding the possibility of a grand compromise, Naftali reiterated his point that land exchanges aren’t the solution:
“At first I thought that giving up the settlements would be a solution. I used to live in a Jewish settlement in north Samaria, and in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to withdraw from that land, thinking that it would lead to peace. Obviously, it did not. We gave them land in 2005, and we don’t have peace in 2017.”
“Compromising over land will not solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Honestly, I don’t know what the Israeli government would compromise on.”
Additionally, some things are simply off the table:
“There are certain things we must say ‘no’ to. Dividing Jerusalem is something that’s not even a right to negotiate. I think that Jerusalem should stay under Israeli sovereignty. On the other side, the Palestinian Authority must stop paying the families of terrorists. This would be a first step to negotiations.”
When I asked what, if anything, Israel should change about the way it operates, Naftali offered an intriguing answer:
“The only thing I would change is to stop being sorry for who we are. There was a point when we felt the need to provide explanations to the Western world, and I think that Israel should stop being sorry for what we do for the sake of peace, and for the sake of security in the region.”
Make sure to come back for part II, in which Hananya Naftali talks about Israel versus the politically correct West, anti-Semitism, and offers two incredible stories about how his videos changed minds and may have even saved lives.