On May 13th, 2023, Benjamin Faershtein, Benjamin Mazo, David Hervy, Leah Krupnik, and Liran Friedman; a group of strong, and resilient middle and high school students participating in Club Z’s incredible academic-year-long program to “raise modern-day Zionists who are articulate and knowledgeable leaders,” took part in an intensive writing workshop with Douglas Sandoval, Managing Editor for CAMERA on Campus.

Following a detailed presentation on effective approaches to drafting and publishing Op-eds, the cadre of students took action, writing a group response to an anti-Israel article published in the Durham University (UK) campus paper, Palatinate.

Below is their well-thought-out response exhibiting their zeal, knowledge, and passion for standing up for the truth.

In an article published in the Durham University (UK) campus paper, the Palatinate, titled A Month in Palestine, Ross Plowman presents a heart-tugging account of the plight of Palestinians, at least that’s how it appears on the surface.

Beneath the veil of emotionally charged language is a distorted, antagonistic take on the Arab-Israeli conflict that whitewashes Palestinian terrorism, absolves Palestinians of moral agency, and above all things, demonizes the State of Israel.

Published in September 2022, Plowman claims to chronicle the rise in tensions after Islamic Jihad waged war against Israel for three days, from August 5th-August 7th, 2022.

However, Plowman neglects to inform readers of the lead-up to Israel’s tactical response.

In the article, he fails to acknowledge that the war began when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) discovered plans by Islamic Jihad, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, to target Israeli civilians with deadly rocket fire.

On the evening of August 5th, 2022, the IDF called for Israelis in areas up to 80 kilometers from the Gaza Strip to “remain close to bomb shelters” as they carried plans to neutralize the impending threat.

As the IDF correctly assessed, Islamic Jihad began firing 1,100 rockets into Israel in an attempt to murder innocent Israelis that very day.

A bloodthirsty terrorist organization funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Jihad is responsible for many attacks, including suicide bombings and mass shootings. Its leaders have offered money to Palestinian terrorists since the terror group was founded in the early 1980s.

Instead of providing readers with a complete picture, he begins his narrative with Israel’s counter-terrorism efforts, giving the impression that the air strikes are the product of unhinged Israel aggression when they are defensive, targeted strikes intended to take out terrorists.

Plowman also includes a death and injury count of 44 Palestinians, which, as he states, includes 16 children and 350 injuries.

While he provides this figure, he doesn’t say that out of the 1,100 rockets Islamic Jihad attempted to fire into Israel, 200 fell short, striking urban areas within the Gaza Strip.

While it is difficult to say exactly how many casualties resulted from rockets that fell short within Gaza, a video from the Israel Defense Forces confirmed at least one incident on August 6th where a rocket fired by Islamic Jihad killed nine civilians, including four children. 

It is disingenuous for Plowman to compare rocket fire fired incessantly with the intent to kill civilians with Israel’s targeted strikes to thwart terrorism.

He also does not mention Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s frequent use of Palestinians as human shields, where terrorists fire rockets from schools, hospitals, and homes, placing Palestinian civilians in the line of fire.

Plowman’s whitewashing of Palestinian terrorism does not end with his erasure of Islamic Jihad’s heinous deeds from his account of the August 2022 escalations.

It also extends to his skewed account of Israel’s efforts to protect its citizens from terrorism originating in Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

He falsely paints Israel’s counter-terrorism efforts as unjustified attempts to make Palestinian lives more difficult. Such a claim makes little sense when one accounts for the immense risk posed to the members of the IDF, who go to great lengths to protect both Israeli and Palestinian civilians from terrorism.

For decades before Israel erected a security barrier, set up border checkpoints at major roads in and out of Israel, and expanded its intelligence efforts, Palestinian terror groups once terrorized and murdered Israelis at rates much higher than we see today.

The most violent periods spanned from 1987-1993 and 2000-2005 when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat launched intensified bloody campaigns called intifadas,” where he orchestrated waves of kidnappings, shootings, stabbings, and suicide bombings in heavily trafficked intersections and public areas of Israeli cities.

The current Palestinian leadership has regrettably continued in Arafat’s footsteps, denying Jewish history, spouting antisemitism, and offering financial incentives for the murder of Jews through the “Pay to Slay” program.

“Pay to Slay,” known officially by the Palestinian Authority as the Palestinian Martyrs Fund, pays lifelong salaries to terrorists and their families should they successfully carry out an act of terrorism against an Israeli.

President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has vowed to continue to pay salaries to terrorists as he attests “even if we [the Palestinian Authority] are left with one penny.”

Last November, an official report published by the IDF revealed that the Israeli military successfully thwarted 500 attacks in only six months, and this was accomplished through targeted raids on terror cells and strategic operations intended to reduce weapons smuggling and external funding of terrorism.

Furthermore, the security barrier between Judea, Samaria, and Israel has saved countless lives. According to Danny Tirza, chief architect of the security barrier, since completing the barrier, Israel has seen a significant reduction in terrorism.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas, not Israel, influence Palestinians’ quality of life and rights most. Where is Plowman’s protest of their actions that directly impact Palestinians? Never mind that they are also responsible for the violent and immoral acts that require Israel to respond in defense of its people.

Plowman’s cherry-picked narrative and attempts to demonize the State of Israel fall apart when scrutinized. Anyone reading something that values emotion over the truth, dig beneath the surface. In this case, Plowman’s article is exposed for what it truly is: misleading anti-Israel propaganda.

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