Adapted from a speech by the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, who spoke in Tel Aviv this week to a group of young professionals and IDF soldiers.

It is an honor for me to stand in the same room as those of you in IDF uniforms. You might think that you’re simply defending your country, but in fact you are fighting against violent jihadist terrorism for the whole of the Western world, and you are at the front lines of the battle.

Although not quite a lone voice, mine was certainly a very lonely voice among the many dozens of speeches endorsing the Goldstone Report and repudiating Israel that were made over the two days of the UN Human Rights Council hearing after Operation Cast Lead. This is what I said to the Council: “During its operation in Gaza, 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.”

What was behind my comments? Apart from basic decency and humanitarian considerations, the commanders of the IDF knew, as do British, American and other NATO commanders, how vital to a counterinsurgency conflict is winning over the hearts and minds of the people, especially in a conflict where they could be sure that killing innocent civilians is exactly what the enemy would be trying to lure them to do.

Today, Israel faces a conspiracy of delegitimization, which aims to give validity and justification to attacks on Israel by groups such as Iran’s proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, allowing them to strike at Israel with impunity, and encouraging the view that any retaliatory or defensive measures by Israel are by definition disproportionate and should be criminalized.

The more traction this idea is allowed to gain, the greater the instability between Israel and its neighbors. This lessens the chances of any lasting peace, and consequently increases the blood that will be shed on all sides in the region.

The most powerful weapons in this conspiracy are legal, diplomatic and media. Fundamentally, we are talking about a war of words, words that are given unprecedented potency by the internet, by the globalization of the 21st century.

If this is a war of words, we must also use words to counter attack.

The conspiracy seeks to undermine the right of Israel to exist as an entity. And it is this that we must stand up against. As we would stand up vigorously against any movement that seriously sought to undermine the existence of any legitimate, democratic state.

In this war of words, all that is necessary for this evil conspiracy of delegitimization to triumph is for good men to say nothing. I have enough experience of the IDF to know that the harsh condemnation all too frequently applied to them, usually by those with an anti-Israel agenda, is, more often than not, completely unjustified.

For the full speech: JPost

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