Friday, August 1, 2014
It’s difficult to imagine the terror that the people of Israel must live with every day. For Israelis, at any given moment a missile might be detected, rocketing toward a residential neighborhood; a bomber might detonate him or herself in a crowded public place; and terrorists sent by Hamas might infiltrate their borders through secret tunnels to kidnap or kill their children.
Thousands of miles away, it might be convenient to criticize Israel for having the temerity to defend itself against these murderous terrorist attacks.
Those of us who have been to Israel and have seen the effects of these attacks first-hand have a deeper understanding of what the Israeli people are being forced to endure.
On my own visits to Israel, I’ve visited with families who were afraid to let their children play outside, and seen the fortified playgrounds where they can go. I’ve seen the rubble of structures brought down by missile strikes and looked in the eyes of people who live with the threat of violence day-in and day-out.
The conflict between Hamas and Israel is merely one part of a much-larger conflict, one with far-ranging implications that can affect the lives of every person on the globe.
To begin, anyone tempted to suggest Israel has used a disproportionate amount of force to defend itself needs to remember the origins of this latest round of violence. It’s Hamas that continued to launch rockets, despite Israel’s willingness to discuss and abide by multiple cease-fires. It’s Hamas that uses Palestinians as human shields to protect its leaders and its arsenals, and to preserve its extensive system of tunnels. And it’s Hamas that would, if given the opportunity, take the life of every Israeli within range of its thousands of rockets.
Israel needs more than our passive support—it needs our vigorous support. The overwhelming success of the Iron Dome defense system has been the only thing to prevent the deaths of thousands of Israelis, and changes nothing in Hamas’ deadly intent. And under the circumstances, Israel’s response has been anything but disproportionate. In fact, Israel has taken extraordinary – even unprecedented – measures to protect as many lives as possible in its efforts to disarm and disable Hamas.
The United States must take the lead in bringing the international community together to demand the total removal of every missile in Gaza, as well as the complete destruction of the tunnel network being used by Hamas terrorists. To facilitate this, the United States must use the tools available to us diplomatically and continue to support the actions of the Israel Defense Forces. Should the international community fail to join us in sufficient numbers, the United States should block actions in the United Nations aimed at preventing Israel from defending itself.
Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s also imperative we send the message to Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations that the free world will not tolerate their lawless behavior and that aggression toward Israel and its allies can only lead to negative consequences.
That’s why it was disheartening last weekend to see the United States moving closer to Turkey and Qatar than to our traditional allies, pressing the Israelis for an immediate cease-fire instead of allowing them to finish the job.
There’s no doubt that America’s reaction to the Israeli-Gaza conflict is being watched and gauged by nations like Iran, and our failure to stand firmly beside our ally will only embolden the Islamic Republic to continue its criminal efforts to develop and build a nuclear device.
Any equivocation or perceived weakness on our part will be noticed immediately not just in Tehran, but in Moscow and Beijing as well. It can only help usher in a new nuclear arms race, one that holds the potential of becoming infinitely more frightening than the one the free world endured decades ago. Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups have demonstrated time and again that they have no regard for human life – Israeli, Palestinian or American. The possibility of individuals like that gaining access to a nuclear weapon is something we simply cannot allow.
These are the very real stakes of the conflict in Israel. While we pray that the latest cease-fire agreement holds, we need to accept that true, lasting peace can only happen with the elimination of all missiles in Gaza, the destruction of all tunnels between Gaza and Israel and the disarmament of terrorist groups.
Anything short of that will just delay the next round of conflict and encourage our enemies. Only through our resolve, and our continued dedication to the freedom and safety of the Israeli people, can we ensure that our own safety, and that of free peoples around the world, will be protected.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The United Nations Relief & Works Agency For Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced Tuesday that another rocket stockpile has been found at one of its schools in Gaza. This instance marks the third time since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge that a weapons arsenal has been found at an UNRWA school in Gaza.
UNRWA has yet to place blame on any individuals or organizations for placing the weapons stockpile within a children’s school. The UN body refused to do so on the past two previous occasions as well.
The UN body, after both previous findings, has handed the rockets it had found back into the possession of “the local police," otherwise known as the terrorist group Hamas.
This week, UNRWA supplies and building materials had been found in Hamas’s tunnel infrastructure, which has been used to smuggle weapons and carry out attacks on the State of Israel.
The UN agency has a well-documented history of using their US taxpayer-funded facilities to promote anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda. It has in the past been accused of aiding and abetting radical Islamists in Gaza and elsewhere.
UNRWA was created in 1949 to provide relief and public works programs for displaced Arab refugees that had formerly inhabited the British mandate of Palestine. UNRWA is currently the largest agency-subdivision of the entire UN, employing over 30,000 staff. UNRWA has objectively failed in its primary goal of finding homes for those it has deemed “refugees”. From 1949 to present day, refugees recognized by UNRWA has grown from 750,000 to 5,000,000 people.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry's proposals for a cease-fire that would halt the fighting in the Gaza Strip have been resisted by the Islamic militant group Hamas, who insist that any truce agreement must meet the group's main demand that a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory be lifted.
"When it comes to the balance of power in this crisis between us and Israel, they are the executioners, the aggressors, the occupiers, the settlers, and we are the true owners of the land," Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Wednesday in a televised speech from his home-in-exile in Doha, Qatar. "We will not accept anything but the end of the siege."
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that diplomats from the U.S., Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries are reworking a cease-fire proposal made by Egypt's foreign ministry last week. The paper reports that the new proposal would call for both Israel and Hamas to cease military operations in the coming days before calling on the U.S. and the international community to begin talks on a long-term economic program for Gaza.
Hamas rejected the initial Egyptian cease-fire proposal on the grounds that it had not been consulted by Cairo, and claimed that the plan did not provide for the lifting of the blockade or the release of militant prisoners from Israeli custody.
The Journal reports that Hamas' demands to open up the movement of goods into Gaza are likely to be met with resistance by Israel unless it is allowed to monitor the trade for weapons bound for Hamas.
Meanwhile, Israeli military officials told The Journal this week that Hamas's fighters are better-equipped and better-trained than in previous clashes in 2009 and 2012, said an Israeli military officer who requested anonymity.
The militants are using a strategy of avoidance, relying on snipers and improvised explosive devices to hit Israeli forces rather than engaging in face-to-face fighting where they would be at a big disadvantage, he said. They have infiltrated Israel through five cross-border tunnels, even as the army moves to destroy others.
Israeli tanks and warplanes continued to bombard the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Israel said that three of its soldiers had died Wednesday, bringing the military's death toll to 32 since ground operations in Gaza began on July 17 with the aim of halting rocket fire from Gaza and destroying a sophisticated network of cross-border tunnels. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel have also been killed.
The 16-day conflict has claimed the lives of 736 Palestinians, most of them civilians, Palestinian health officials say.
Six members of the same family and an 18-month-old infant boy were killed Thursday when an Israeli airstrike hit the Jebaliya refugee camp in the early morning hours, according to Gaza police and health officials. Twenty others were injured in the strike, they said, and rescuers were digging through the rubble of flattened homes, looking for survivors.
An airstrike on a home in the southern Gaza town of Abassan killed five members of another family, said Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Abassan is near Khan Younis, in an area that saw intense fighting on Wednesday.
Heavy fighting was reported along the border of central Gaza, according to Gaza police spokesman Ayman Batniji. Israeli troops fired tank shells that reached parts of the Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Clashes also erupted between Palestinian fighters and Israeli troops in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, and the sound of explosions was audible across the town, Batniji said.
Israeli naval vessels meanwhile fired more than 100 shells along the coast of Gaza City and northern Gaza, the spokesman said, adding that rescue teams were unable to operate in the area because of the heavy fire.
More than 2,000 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since July 8, and the Israeli military says it has uncovered more than 30 tunnels leading from Gaza to Israel, some of which have been used by Hamas to carry out attacks.
Israel imposed the blockade in 2006 after Hamas and other militants abducted an Israeli soldier in a deadly cross-border raid. It tightened the siege in 2007 after Hamas seized power from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but had eased some of the restrictions in recent years.
Egypt tightened its own restrictions last year after the overthrow of a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo and has destroyed many of the cross-border smuggling tunnels that sustained Gaza's economy, and which were also used by Hamas to bring in arms.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Golani fighter Sean Carmeli, who split his time between Ra’anana and Texas, is laid to rest amid huge crowds in Haifa
There was a crowd of thousands at Sean Carmeli's funeral Monday night in Haifa
Sean Carmeli’s Facebook page is almost typical for a 21-year-old. There’s his profile photo taken with a girl leaning on him, blurry Instagrammed shots with friends at parties and a sepia-toned picture of him bicycle riding with friends on the Tel Aviv boardwalk. There’s also his cover photo with his fellow squad members, some faces blackened, guns at the ready.
Not everyone is grinning in that photo, but Carmeli was.
“Me and the squad,” he wrote, labeling a batch of photos he put up on Facebook.
First Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli was killed Saturday night when his APC, the armored personnel carrier that featured prominently in that Facebook album, was struck by an anti-tank weapon in Gaza — one of 13 Golani soldiers killed in the Hamas stronghold of Shejaiya that night.
“No sleepin a lot of drivin,” wrote Carmeli on one photo featuring him in full gear, in front of an APC.
Lone soldier Sean Carmeli was buried Monday night in Haifa’s Neve David cemetery (Courtesy Sean Carmeli Facebook page)
Carmeli was buried in Haifa’s Neve David cemetery on Monday night. Tens of thousands of people attended the funeral, with some estimates putting the number at a staggering 20,000.
There had been concerns that the lone soldier, who split his time between Ra’anana and South Padre Island, Texas, where his Israeli parents live, wouldn’t have enough people paying their final respects at his funeral.
But since he was a huge fan of Maccabi Haifa, the soccer team posted a photo of Carmeli on its Facebook page after his death, asking fans to go so that his funeral wouldn’t be deserted.
The team also announced that it would have two buses waiting at the cemetery to bring people back to the country’s center, after the 11 pm service.
Thousands of Israelis attend the funeral of IDF soldier Nissim Sean Carmeli, from Texas, at the military cemetery in Haifa, Monday, July 21, 2014. (Photo credit: FLASH90)
Ahuvah Berger, a Kfar Saba resident who attended the funeral, was struck by the mix of people at the funeral.
“There were people from all walks of life,” she said. “Religious, secular, Chabad, a Ra’anana crew, a lot of people from Haifa. Soldiers from the navy, air force and infantries. It was really impressive to see it. And there were a lot of people walking around wearing flags, Israeli flags.”
Ra’anana mayor Ze’ev Bielski spoke, as did the principal of Ostrovski, the high school Carmeli attended.
‘Me and the squad,” wrote Carmeli of this photo, posted on Facebook (Sean Carmeli Facebook page)
While Carmeli spent part of his high school years in Ra’anana, under the care of his two older sisters, he was also tied to the South Padre community, where his parents became deeply involved with the small, but strong Chabad-led community.
He was technically a lone soldier, because his parents don’t currently live in Israel, but was close to his family, calling his sisters and niece, “My girls,” and writing of his sister’s baby daughter, “My little niece she’s so friggin cute and amazing.”
Carmeli served in the Golani Brigade with distinction. When he was called up to Gaza last week, his officer told him he didn’t have to go to the front because of a foot injury. Carmeli insisted on serving with his squad.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
VIA: The Daily Caller
BY: Ariel Cohen
As tensions continue to escalate in the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the region to continue pursuing a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas — but he may not be welcome this time around.
Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren believes that America’s presence isn’t welcome at all. During an interview with an Israel news network on Monday, Oren said that Kerry coming to the region is “to our chagrin.” Oren cited Kerry’s history of failed attempts at peace negotiations in the region, and strained U.S. relations with Egypt, as well as the Obama administration’s poor relationship with both Israel and Palestine.
Kerry left on Monday for Egypt, where he will continue to negotiate discussions of the continually failing cease-fire. The White House hopes to return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement, and also emphasized the need to protect civilian lives, both in Gaza and in Israel.
Kerry spent nine months pursuing peace talks between Israel and Palestine from 2013 to 2014, but abandoned the effort recently after each attempt proved to be futile. Since violence has taken off between the Israelis and the Palestinians in recent weeks, Egypt has attempted to broker two separate cease-fires. While Israel complied with each request, Hamas has refused to agree and has repeatedly ignored Egypt’s requests.
During an interview broadcast on “Fox News Sunday,” Kerry said that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas militants. But Kerry was caught making an aside comment to an aide over the phone during a commercial break, sarcastically calling Israel’s Operation Protective Edge a “helluva pinpoint operation.”
Numerous networks and media outlets picked up on this comment and condemned America’s top diplomat for callously critiquing the Israeli operation. (VIDEO: ’Morning Joe’ Doesn’t Believe Kerry’s Open Mic Criticism Of Israel Was An Accident)
According to Oren, Kerry’s behavior and remarks during his Sunday interview make it clear that Kerry was not invited to the region, and rather, just forced his way in. The State Department said that Kerry’s main concern in the region is minimizing “risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life.”
President Obama reiterated that sentiment during a briefing from the White Hose lawn on Monday. The president expressed continued concerned about the violence, stating that both sides must continue working to “stop the deaths of innocent civilians.” The White House continues to look toward Kerry, the United Nations and Egypt to help broker a working cease-fire.
Monday, July 21, 2014
VIA: The Daily Caller 7/20/2014
BY: Neil Munro
President Barack Obama stepped up his efforts Sunday to limit Israel’s gradual destruction of Hamas’ tunnel network in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza, which now conceals many of the rockets and jihadi units that attack Israelis.
In a morning call to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama “reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself [but] also raised serious concern about the growing number of casualties, including increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza and the loss of Israeli soldiers,” said a 2.00 p.m. statement from the White House.
Israel’s government did not officially respond to Obama’s statement, which came after Israel ground units moved into Gaza to find the tunnels. The Gaza area is controlled by Hamas green-waving jihadis, whose mission is to destroy Israel because it is not controlled by Muslims.
The warring parties should comply with the 2012 ceasefire signed by Hamas, Israel and Egypt’s government, said the White House statement.
“Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to Cairo to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the statement said.
That 2012 deal was brokered by Egypt’s Islamist government, which was then aligned with Hamas parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama strongly backed the deal and also the Islamist government, until after the government failed to protect the U.S. embassy from Islamist rioters in September 2012.
The Islamist ceasefire deal opened Gaza’s border posts with Egypt. After the fighting ended, Hamas imported more weapons and construction material for its tunnel network, which are now being used to attack Israel.
Since the 2012 deal was made, Egypt’s pro-Hamas government has been replaced by a new anti-Hamas, anti-brotherhood government.
That new government has drafted a new deal, which would open the border posts “once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” Hamas fears that Egypt’s new government will never conclude the security situation is stable enough to reopen the border, and will continue to block the movement of weapons in Gaza.
Egypt’s new deal would also allow Israel to launch drones strikes against Hamas military forces.
Israel accepted the new deal, but Hamas rejected it on July 16.
For at least a week, Obama has been pressuring Israel to not attack Gaza.
“Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas… [but] I believe further escalation benefits no one, least of all the Israeli and the Palestinian people,” Obama told Muslim attendees at a July 14 dinner in the White House.
“Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks… But over the past two weeks, we’ve all been heartbroken by the violence, especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza —- men, women and children who were caught in the crossfire,” Obama said in July 16 statement to the media.
Obama’s deputy repeated that two-track message today — acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself, while also criticizing Israel’s attack on the tunnel network.
Kerry sat for an interview on Fox News, but privately criticized Israel’s tactics in Gaza during an intermission. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” he said in a quick phone call to an aide. “We need to get over there… it is crazy to be siting around.”
When asked to explain his off-air comments, Kerry said that Israelis “have a right to go in take out those tunnels, we completely support that… [and] we defend Israel’s right to do what it is doing in order to get at those tunnels.”
“Hamas has started this process of rocketing… [and now] is important for them to step up and be reasonable,” he said.
Obama’s July 20 intervention came as Israel ground forces pushed into the heavily populated Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza, which shields part of Hamas’ tunnel network from Israel surveillance and airstrikes.
The area is being strongly defended by Hamas jihadis carrying imported weaponry.
In overnight fighting, 13 Israel soldiers were killed, including seven in a troop-carrier which was destroyed by a land-mine, and three who were killed by an anti-tank missile.
Israel has urged local Arabs to leave the embattled neighborhood, but Hamas forces are reportedly blockading any civilian exodus.
“We urged the civilian population to evacuate for days, through leaflets, broadcasts, telephone calls… because we didn’t want to see innocent civilians caught in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas,” a military official told Israel media. “It is Hamas that ordered the civilians to stay put. It is Hamas that wanted those civilians to stay, so it would have a human shield for its terrorist machine.”
Hamas is also pressuring media outlets to showcase the resulting civilian casualties, especially of children, who are brought to a nearby hospital and morgue for easy access.
The civilian casualties caused by Hamas’ blockage of the exits include the “increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza” cited in the White House statement
“What choice do we have?” Netanyahu asked in a July 20 press conference.
“We try to target the rocketeers… And all civilian casualties are not intended by us but actually intended by Hamas who want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can because somebody said they use telegenically dead Palestinians for the cause,” Netanyahu told CNN. “They want ‘the more dead, the better.’”
The Hamas attacks on Israel violate international law because the rockets are too inaccurate to hit military targets. Nearly all of the attacks have been blocked by Israel’s forces and its Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Since 2012, when Egypt’s Islamist government failed to protect the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Obama has reduced his involvement in Middle East politics. However, he’s still trying to broker a peace deal between the the Jews in Israel and the Middle East Arabs, almost none of whom favor the existence of Israel.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.
“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
Charles Krauthammer writes a weekly political column that runs on Fridays. View Archive
Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.
Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.
And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.
The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.
This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago.
And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.
Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”
It makes no sense. Unless you understand, as Tuesday’s Post editorial explained, that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire.
This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.
A collection of cartoons about international news.
July 18, 2014Tom Toles/The Washington Post
To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.
In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, the depravity of Hamas begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera — both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years that nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.
It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
What does it mean to say that casualties are “disproportionate”?
On “NBC Nightly News” on July 12, David Gregory spoke of growing pressure from the United Nations for a ceasefire in Gaza. He noted that the United States and many other nations believed that Israel had a right to self-defense. Nonetheless, Gregory reported, these countries were likely to be sympathetic to calls for a ceasefire because of the “disproportionate” number of casualties between the two sides. Among the residents of Gaza, the death toll then exceeded 100, while Israel had suffered dozens of injuries but no casualties.
Mr. Gregory was simply reporting the news, but I found his comments disturbing, nonetheless. What does it mean to say that the casualties are “disproportionate”? And is that really the moral issue that we need to be concerned about?
The implication of the “disproportionality” claim is that, given their losses, the people of Gaza are the real victims. But morally and politically, this is an intolerable and distorted interpretation of the realities in the region.
The reason that Hamas has not killed more Israelis is not because they haven’t tried. In the seven years during which it has controlled Gaza, Hamas and its proxies have fired more than 5000 rockets into Israel; almost 800 have been launched just this past week. Each one has been aimed at civilians and intended to murder and maim. The reason that more Israelis have not died is that the weapons are mostly crude and inaccurate and that, over time, Israel has prepared herself with shelters, warning sirens and an anti-missile system. In addition, Israelis have been just plain lucky.
But that luck could change at any moment. If a single rocket were to hit a school or a mall, the number of dead could balance out in a flash. Then, to be sure, you would have “proportionality,” but there is no moral calculus by which additional dead civilians is a preferable outcome.
For Israel, the fundamental issue is the responsibility of its government to protect its citizens. As missiles have fallen on her cities over the years, the government has not succeeded in providing that protection. The reasons are many, including sensitivity to American wishes and a concern for world opinion; but the desire not to hurt the innocent is the most important. Now, however, as children in the south continue to live in terror and civilians throughout Israel flee to shelters several times daily, Israel’s leaders have concluded that they must act.
There is something bizarre, in fact, about the idea of “proportionality” being used as a moral criticism against Israel. A proportional response by Israel to the attacks of the last seven years would mean that every time a rocket is fired by Hamas at an Israeli civilian center, Israel would respond by firing a rocket at a civilian center in Gaza. Israel, of course, rejected that, then and now. Still, when Hamas violated the ceasefire yet again and got its hands on longer-range rockets, something had to be done.
The best way to evaluate Israel’s action is to imagine how we as Americans would respond to similar provocations. Assume the following: a terrorist group embedded in Mexico that the Mexican government refused to disarm is firing missiles into Houston night after night, endangering American lives. Our government would not wait a week or a month; indeed, it would not wait a single day before taking action to assure the well-being of her citizens. In fact, we need only remember how American forces flew half way around the world to engage in a war in Afghanistan against terrorists who carried out an attack on American soil. The talk then was not of proportionality, but of providing security for our country and stopping those who wished to do us harm.
Of course, let us not think for a moment, God forbid, that we can be indifferent to the death of innocents. The death of any child, Israeli or Arab, Muslim or Jew, is an unspeakable tragedy that rends the heart. Israel must do everything humanly possible to avoid the civilian casualties; already she issues warnings and calls for evacuation of areas about to be attacked, and must do more. Still, for any country, morality begins with a reasonable measure of security for her own citizens, and it is not right to say that Israel must protect Palestinian civilians at the cost of abandoning her own.
The issue was never “proportionality”; it is the suffering and dying of too many Arabs and Jews. And while there is much that is complicated about the Middle East, ending the violence in Gaza is not complicated. Hamas needs to halt the missile attacks and provide credible assurances to Israel and the world that they will not be resumed. If the rockets stop, quiet can come tomorrow. And tomorrow is not soon enough.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, a writer and lecturer, was President of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012. His writings are collected at ericyoffie.com.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
July 17, 2014
Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, author of Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel, 2014.
In the 1960's, Liberals were among some of Israel's strongest supporters, but have since become some of Israel's staunchest opponents. In his new book, Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel, Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, explores the reasons behind this change.
Last month's vote by the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. to divest from three American companies whose products are sold to Israel was a recent example of the animus toward Israel commonly found on the Left
In an email interview with The Christian Post, Muravchik says that opposing Israel and supporting Palestinians fits with a new Leftist ideology that views modern political struggles as between race and ethnic groups, with the predominantly white West against the non-white rest of the world. This viewpoint has surpassed the previous class-based, rich versus poor, categories as the predominant ideology of the Left, he argued.
Despite this change on the Left, Muravchik does not believe that Democrats will change their support for Israel because American voters are strong supporters of Israel.
Muravchik also spoke about the anti-Israel sentiments found among some liberal Evangelicals and the bias in media coverage of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Here is the full transcript of that interview:
CP: Why, today, are conservatives generally pro-Israel and liberals generally pro-Palestinian?
Muravchik: Leftists/liberals/progressives believe that the great moral drama of our era is "the rest against the West" or the "people of color" against the "white man." This has replaced poor-against-rich or worker-against-capitalist as the core idea of progressive thought. Seen through that lens, Israel (the "Western," "white" guys) is automatically wrong and the Palestinians (the "anti-colonialist" "people of color") are automatically right. On the other side, conservatives value Israel as a free country, a democracy, and an ally of the United States.
CP: U.S. foreign policy toward Israel has remained remarkably consistent across presidential administrations. Do you see that changing?
Muravchik: The U.S. will remain pro-Israel because polls show that the American public is strongly pro-Israel. President Obama has been cooler toward Israel that any other president in recent memory, saying in his first year that he wanted to "put daylight" between the U.S. and Israel, and he has done that, but still he has not changed U.S. policy radically.
CP: What would we see from the Democratic Party today if there were no strong pro-Israel forces within its coalition?
Muravchik: Support for Israel by Democratic politicians has less to do with any "forces" in the "coalition" than with the simple fact that U.S. public opinion is firmly pro-Israel. The Left, however, is now anti-Israel and it does its best to push the party in that direction.
We saw its influence at the 2012 Democratic convention when the draft platform was much less pro-Israel than in the past, and the Obama team had to pull out all the stops — and go through three votes — to change the wording because they feared it would cost votes.
CP: Last month, the Presbyterian Church (USA), a Mainline Protestant denomination, voted to divest from three American companies whose products are sold to Israel. What is the source of this strong anti-Israel sentiment among Mainline Protestants?
Muravchik: In the 1960s and 1970s the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the leadership of some of the individual Mainline Protestant denominations turned sharply to the Left. To an outsider it looked as if they were replacing religious faith with political messianism. They embraced "revolutionary" forces in Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other "third world" places even though those forces were both anti-human and anti-God. And they embraced Palestinian "revolutionaries" in the same spirit.
CP: In the United States, the strongest supporters of Israel have been Jews and Evangelicals. Recently though, there have been some vocal anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian sentiments from liberal Evangelicals. Has anything surprised you about this phenomenon?
Muravchik: It is not surprising for Evangelicals to be liberals. This faith does not require any particular political persuasion. But a genuine liberal must be pro-Israel. Israel — and not its enemies — is democratic, observes freedom of speech and worship, tolerates minorities, sanctifies the rights of women, and constantly reaches out to the other side with humanitarian gestures, such as the six Gazan babies who were transported to Israel this week, amidst the rocket fire, for free operations to repair congenital heart defects. To be anti-Israel is not to be liberal; rather it is to embrace the worldview of the radical Left which is totalitarian, anti-freedom, and anti-faith. It surprised me greatly to see some Evangelicals join that camp.
CP: What do you think about the media coverage of the current conflict taking place between Israel and Hamas? Some conservatives have complained that the coverage is unfairly biased against Israel.
Muravchik: The coverage is biased, especially in The New York Times, which once was fair and balanced but today filters the whole world through a leftish lens. And of course the Times influences others.
In addition to simple bias, another factor is at work. Israel is an open society, with a press that watchdogs the government and washes the country's dirty linen in public. Many stories in the U.S. press that show some of the bad side of Israel originate in the Israeli press. There is nothing remotely comparable on the Arab side. There is no press freedom, and if someone in Gaza wants to reveal Hamas's nasty deeds, it's as good as his life.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday repeated his position that "Israel will continue to do what it needs to do to defend itself until peace and quiet are restored."
The premier spoke at a joint news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini at the Knesset on Wednesday.
Netanyahu called on the international community to condemn Hamas for committing the "double war crime" of firing on Israeli civilians and using Palestinian noncombatants as human shields. He also said that the "most important step for the international community to insist on" is "the demilitarization of Gaza."
The premier noted that while Israel accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, Hamas rejected it.
Turning to the Italian foreign minister, Netanyahu said, "Imagine in Rome, Florence, and Milan were rocketed. You wouldn't accept that. You'd fight back. Those firing the rockets aren't seeking a political solution."
Mogherini commended Netanyahu for accepting the ceasefire while calling on both sides to refrain from civilian casualties. She also expressed concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza.