Morality in the war on terror is a controversial and constant point of discussion for Israel. The question is: How can an army be optimally moral in preventing casualties, while successfully stopping terrorism?

This is a dilemma the IDF struggles with as it is repeatedly cornered into war in order to protect Israel.  Despite the many tactics developed by the IDF which help to avoid civilian casualties, Israel’s military operations are intensely scrutinized throughout the world. Often, these critics are simply ill-informed and cannot begin to understand the reality of defending a country against terrorism. Such critics falsely accuse the IDF of war crimes, despite Israel’s exceptional efforts to steer clear of killing civilians.

Colonel Richard Kemp speaks at NYU.
Colonel Richard Kemp speaks at NYU.

Considering the often disproportionate level of criticism directed at Israel, Realize Israel was honored to host Colonel Richard Kemp at NYU this past April. Colonel Kemp, a long-standing officer in the British forces, has led troops in Afghanistan and around the world. Having planned and led many counter-terrorism operations, he has an exceptional understanding of morality in times of war.

Today, Kemp makes great efforts to be an informative, dispassionate voice against war crimes. He is not biased towards Israel. Rather, he simply recognizes the IDF’s high moral standards and values that its significant commitment to maintaining a high code of morality during wartime. Colonel Kemp has spoken in the UN numerous times on behalf of Israel.  At the UN, he has defended Israel’s strategies to safeguard civilians, highlighting the IDF’s exceptional efforts to protect innocent lives, more so than any other army in the history of warfare.

At NYU, the room was packed – many were standing. The attentive audience was privileged to listen to Kemp’s speech, which was a testament to the significant role his work plays in promoting the truth about Israel.

Colonel Kemp opened up by describing Israel’s efforts to prevent civilian casualties during Operation Protective Edge. He then gave an overview of his own experiences during wartime, and shed light on Hamas’ strategies in contrast to Israel’s. While the IDF strives for morality, Hamas continually forces its own people into terror, using women and children as suicide bombers. The conflict is complicated. As with every army around the world, the IDF occasionally makes mistakes. However Colonel Kemp firmly argues that these mistakes do not amount to war crimes.

June 2015 - Colonel Kemp testifies at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
June 2015 – Colonel Kemp testifies at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Colonel Kemp also touched upon Israel’s need for support in the US media. While the IDF can defend itself in battle, the war against the media, with its medley of false accusations, is a threat. While the reality is very discouraging, the event left the audience inspired to take action. Students took home strong facts about Israel’s moral strategies as well as a greater understanding of how Israel should be defended by people around the world.

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