The following rambles quite a bit, for which I apologize, but, it captures much of what has been on my mind these last days.
As I sit glued to my chair, reading and watching reports of what is going on in Gaza and Israel, and worrying about friends and family in Israel, I am struck by a number of random thoughts.
In this conflict, there are certainly “innocents” who would like nothing better than to be able to get on with their lives, raise their children, work, play, and simply enjoy their lives as they should.
This is true on both sides, or should I say, all three sides, of the conflict – in Israel, Gaza, and among the Arabs of the West Bank (AKA Judea and Samaria).
Unfortunately, there are those who simply couldn’t care less, or those who are convinced that every person on “the other side” is an evil monster.
To be sure, there ARE evil monsters in this world, and many of them can be found in the Middle East, with a fairly large concentration of them in Gaza (i.e. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.), and their religion is hatred.
There are those who continually and relentlessly castigate and flay Israel over its supposedly immoral conduct, while excusing the Gazans for thousands of rockets and mortars along with many suicide and other bombs and attacks on Israeli civilians, with the rationale that “well, what else can they do?”.
I simply do not accept this rationale.
In life, we have choices. We make them every single day.
Today, I’ll have spaghetti for dinner. Tonight, I’ll fire a rocket at an Israeli city. Tomorrow, I’ll go to the beach. Next month, I’ll start school. Next year, I’ll make peace with my neighbor.
Israel, in a de-facto withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, gave Hamas and the Gazans a choice. They could take what Israel left behind, continue to work in Israel, build up Gaza with international aid money, or, they could make the choice to wage war on Israel. They made the choice to wage war, and what is happening now is a direct result of that decision.
Gaza, instead of accepting the friendship and eventual open borders with Israel, declared to the world that they only exist to exterminate Israel and every Jew in the world. That was a choice on their part.
To their dishonor, they chose to pursue that choice, relentlessly, ever more efficiently, with more and more and better and better weapons systems, spending their aid money on weapons, tunnels, education of the population that Jews are sons of pigs and dogs and subhuman, and throwing themselves into the task of ridding the world of “The Jews”.
Of course, Israel does not agree with this goal, and manifests their disagreement by building bomb shelters, warning systems, the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system, and sometimes striking back at the rocket launchers and their owners. Occasionally, as in 2009 and 2012, and now, Israel strikes back hard, only to listen to the world cry for the Gazans, while ignoring the hard fact that Gaza has choices other than being destroyed, and condemns Israel for doing what any other country on Earth would do to protect its citizens.
In fact, actually, Israel is NOT doing what most countries would do.
Israel is painstakingly, methodically, working to eliminate very specific targets that have been identified as leaders of Hamas, command centers, weapons caches, weapons manufacturing facilities, and launching sites. They warn civilians (and Hamas) by radio, with leaflets, phone calls, and “roof knocking” to ensure that civilians have the ability to flee before the building is bombed.
That is NOT what most countries, or any countries do. Normally, in a situation like this, the country under attack, if it has the means, responds with massive force. There are no leaflets, no phone calls, no “roof knocking”, no warnings. Just massive force. If civilians are caught in the middle, so be it.
We have seen this in history, time over time. The carpet bombing of Dresden, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, is an example.
“But”, you say, “we’re more civilized now. We don’t do that anymore.”
Of course we do. How much warning do we provide in Pakistan before drone attacks on villages? How much warning did we give Iraqis before attacks? Afghanis? Did the British warn people in the Falklands (now there’s a “moral” war) before attacking specific targets?
Most countries don’t warn people in target areas, because the intent is to kill those people. To destroy the target, the infrastructure, and to remove the enemy’s capability to wage war.
War IS ugly, and horrible, but it usually has a purpose.
In the case of Israel vs. Gaza, the purpose is to stop the rockets, and the auxiliary goal, discovered later when the extent of the terror tunnels became known, is to destroy the tunnels. As part of that, Israel SHOULD be working to destroy Hamas’ overall ability to wage war to the point where they understand that waging war on Israel is not advisable and will not get them what they want.
But, here’s the rub. What they want is something that Israel can never give up in negotiations, because it is quite simply the destruction of Israel.
Hamas magnanimously says, from time to time, that they are willing to have Jews live among them, as long as they are Dhimmi’s, and pay protection money to stay alive. They must recognize the superiority of the Muslims who would be their masters. Israel, surprisingly (?) says “no, thank you”.
Then, of course, we have the reaction of huge swaths of people around the world. These are supposedly well-meaning people, claiming to be motivated by their love for humanity and their strong antipathy for human rights abuses. They claim to love the Palestinian people, and in protests, can be seen shouting “We are Hamas”, as if that’s a good or desirable thing.
Hamas, which treats women as 5th class citizens, executes political rivals and homosexuals, does not tolerate music or dancing, beats its subjects into submission, tortures its prisoners on a regular basis, and cries to the world about Israel and how Gaza is “occupied”, while their leaders get rich, and while their aid money goes to weapons and tunnels, while concrete allowed in for building projects is diverted for tunnels instead. Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and dreams and plans for a global Caliphate ruled by Sharia Law and a return to the Middle Ages.
That is the Hamas that these lovers of the Palestinian people claim to be, while in another breath, they claim to be liberal, supporters of equal rights, rights for women, rights for gays, and freedom.
They claim to be horrified by the death toll in Gaza, and in a show of solidarity, trash, loot and burn neighborhoods across Europe, yelling “Kill the Jews”. “Itbakh Al Yahud”. “Jews to the ovens”. “Hitler didn’t finish the job”. They lob Molotov cocktails into synagogues, burn down Jewish businesses, and terrorize Jews in the street. All in the name of “Human Rights”.
You’ll pardon me if I’m confused by this. I thought “Human Rights” were relatively universal and applied to all people.
Friends tell me “well, it’s legitimate to criticize the policies of Israel”.
Yes, of course it is. If it’s part of a rational discussion that includes some perspective and relativity, comparing Israel to other countries. It is NOT legitimate when Israel is the ONLY country under discussion, and when human rights abuses on scales several orders of magnitude more horrific are systematically ignored and condoned.
What is it about Israel that is different from other countries, that brings people to the point that they hate it so much?
Is it love of the Palestinians? I don’t think so. If that were the case, there were be no refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Jordan, or Lebanon. Those people would have long ago been assimilated.
Is it that Israel is truly an evil empire, oppressing the poor Palestinians, preventing them from working, starting businesses, starving them to death? I don’t think so. Israel has built significant infrastructure in the West Bank, improved health care, hospitals, educational institutions, roads, water access, electricity, and many other aspects. They opened their borders to workers from the West Bank for many years, until security issues made that impossible.
They treat Palestinians, including Gazans, in their own hospitals, enact laws against discrimination, and, while imperfect, work to improve the lives of the 20% or so of Israelis who are Arabs.
One can only conclude that the problems Israel faces are due to the fact that Israel is the Jewish nation-state.
People complain, or are horrified at what that might mean for minorities, as if there are no other countries in the world with an “official” religion. Even the Palestinian Authority has declared, formally and officially, that the religion of the new state of Palestine is Islam. There are roughly 22 Islamic countries in the world today, so the fact that Israel is a Jewish country should not be an issue. After all, there is only one Israel, and 22 Arab/Muslim states.
So, why should Jews not be tolerated, why should they be hated all over the world? Simply because they are Jews? Had Israel come into being in 1948 as a Muslim or Arab country, would there be a conflict, even if that state was killing its citizens and waging war on its neighbors indiscriminately?
Clearly, the answer to that is “NO”.
We know this because there ARE Arab states making war on their own citizens and their neighbors, and the world doesn’t give a damn.
While there have been 600 killed in Gaza, many of them combatants, in two weeks of fighting, there were 700 killed in Syria in TWO DAYS last week. No one paid this the slightest bit of attention.
Where are the BDS movements and protests against Syria, Iraq, ISIS, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Rwanda, North Korea, and all the other major human rights abusers in the world? Why is the focus ONLY on Israel, in a manner that is so out of proportion as to render the word “disproportionate” irrelevantly insignificant and meaningless.
The screaming, rioting supporters of Hamas in the streets are, in reality, not so much supporters of Hamas and the Palestinians as they are haters of Israel.
There really is only one explanation for that.
You can figure it out…..