Reservists on Duty. Rebbeca Rum, lower right holding flag..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In June, it will be one year since 24-year-old Boston native Rebecca Rum (not her full name for security purposes) was falsely accused of being the sniper who fatally shot a 21-year-old Palestinian nurse. Today, Rum is focused on spreading the truth about Israel and the IDF.
Rum moved to Israel in 2012 and joined the army that same year. She served three years in active duty, including as a commander in the educational corps, and is now an active reservist. But one of the most transformational moments of her life was around this time last year, when Suhair Nafal from Chicago posted a photograph of Rum smiling in full uniform and holding an M16, naming Rum the murderer of 21-year-old Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, a Gazan nurse who was shot in the stomach while providing first aid to wounded demonstrators near the fence outside Khan Yunis.
The post went viral and was even shared on the “Freedom for Gaza” Facebook page, which has over 100,000 followers. There was just one problem: The photo of Rum was taken four years prior, and she was nowhere near the Gaza border fence on that fateful day.
Nafal took down the photo, writing that “it was only a comparison.” Yet, the damage was done. Rum received thousands of hate messages and even death threats.
“After what happened, I felt it was my calling to educate myself more about Israel and stand up for the country I believe in,” Rum told The Jerusalem Post. “I had been turned into a symbol of hate. I wanted to use my voice to counter that narrative.”
Rum joined Reservists on Duty (ROD), a group of IDF veterans who work together to expose and counter the BDS movement and new forms of antisemitism erupting on US college campuses.
“Rum is defending Israel now in a different kind of war,” explained ROD CEO Amit Deri, “one that is taking place on US College campuses amid an atmosphere of hate, lies and the delegitimization of Israel.”
Earlier this month, Rum traveled with ROD to the University of California Irvine (UCI) to counter-protest Apartheid Week demonstrations being put on by pro-Palestinian activists.
“We spent the week in UCI speaking to students and educating about Israel, with the hope of creating open dialogue as well as sharing our first-hand experience of Israel and the military service,” Rum explained. “Many of the students I spoke to knew nothing about Israel except for the anti-Israel propaganda they had heard chanted on campus. We held signs that encouraged people to come and ask questions.”
ROD activists partnered with Israeli minorities, including Christian Arabs and Muslims, stood opposite pro-Palestinian activists and their “Apartheid wall,” and held signs reading, “I served in the IDF, ask me anything about Israel.”
“For me, this experience was doubly meaningful,” Rum told the Post. “Having seen firsthand how BDS lies spread and how damaging they are.”
Rum said that growing up in a Jewish day school in Boston, she never experienced antisemitism or anti-Israel sentiment. But she believes antisemitism is getting worse in America and in the world in general, driving her further to share the truth.
“What happened to Rebecca is outrageous,” said Deri. “While we can’t prevent the ridiculous lies that come from pro-Palestinian activists, we can try to better inform students in the hope that they will think twice before taking their lies at face value.”
Rum said one year and a visit to UCI later, her main takeaway and message is “to be open to hearing the other side, and to always check the facts that people tell me.
“If the BDS movement had chosen to use my face to spread lies about Israel,” she continued, “then I’m going to use my voice to tell the truth and to educate about Israel.”