Col. Richard Kemp has seen the tactics used by Islamic terrorists from very close range. As head of the British forces in Afghanistan in 2003, he witnessed terrorists use human shields when they confronted the armed forces of the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
Hamas employs a very similar tactic in Gaza, he told The CJN in a telephone interview from England. During the recent unrest, Hamas did its best to provoke an Israeli response that would blacken its image in the eyes of the world. It’s a tactic that has had some success, inasmuch as it leads people to criticize the Jewish state. But many military men like himself hold the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in high regard and understand the difficulties it faces when its enemies send civilians into the line of fire, hoping that they get killed, in order to score a propaganda victory.
Kemp, who has been an outspoken supporter of Israel for years, said, “It’s the latest example of Islamic terrorists trying to force Western soldiers to kill their own people.”
Kemp will discuss the recent Gaza conflict in an event sponsored by Israel Bonds of Canada, in conjunction with the Lone Soldiers Center. The evening event, billed as “Bonding With Lone Soldiers,” is scheduled to take place on June 26 at the Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue in Toronto. Lone soldiers are volunteers from around the world who enlist in the IDF and, being foreigners, do not benefit from the family support that Israelis rely upon when they are serving.
Kemp said that, since its inception, Israel’s armed forces have relied on overseas volunteers known as Machal. Former Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion credited them not only for their military contribution to the country, but also for boosting national morale at a grave point in Israel’s history, Kemp said.
Kemp said that lone soldiers are “very brave people,” who put their lives on the line for Israel and are continuing a unique tradition.
As for the IDF as a whole, Kemp said, “Among military people, the IDF’s reputation is extremely high.”
He called Israel “one of Britain’s closest friends and allies,” and a country that, like the U.K. and its allies, is facing Islamic terrorists who employ tactics designed to undermine public support for their missions.
Among military people, the IDF’s reputation is extremely high.
– Col. Richard Kemp
He said he has become a vocal advocate for Israel because he’s “not prepared to watch and listen to people falsely maligning the IDF.
“I don’t like to see wrong done to people who are putting their lives on the line to defend their country.”
Kemp said that public opinion is being influenced by organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, along with the media.
In Britain, he said, the BBC often presents “highly distorted” reports on events that take place in the Middle East.
“Israel is facing the greatest slur campaign in the history of the Western world,” he added.
Israeli tactics are studied at military schools and there are numerous points of contact between the IDF and the militaries of Britain and its allies. Over the years, Kemp has trained with Israelis and, at one time, Israel had observers in the British army who were stationed in Northern Ireland.
Michael Domb is a former lone soldier from Toronto who served as a tank commander in the IDF and a member of the board of directors of the Lone Soldier Center.
He said that Canadians make up a substantial proportion of the lone soldiers who are fighting for Israel. “A significant majority are from Toronto,” said Domb.
Funds raised at the June 26 event will be used to purchase Israel Bonds. Once the bonds mature, the proceeds will be used to support programs that assist lone soldiers in Israel.
“It’s a match made in heaven, to support lone soldiers specifically, and Israel in general,” Domb said.
The Lone Soldier Center offers physical and emotional support to volunteer soldiers by providing food, necessities, laundry services, seminars, support groups, social events and monthly Shabbat meals, according to the organization’s website.