It has been about a week since the battle on the high seas between the Israeli armed forces and a ship of activists attempting to deliver goods to the Gazans. Much ink has been spilled on the topic, most of it dripping with hypocrisy. Not since Captain Renault professed to be “shocked, shocked” that gambling was going on at Rick’s has the world witnessed such phony indignation. The same nations that have been sleeping all these years, rather than joining in the fight for Middle East Peace, have now awakened from their slumber. And their target, shockingly enough, is the Jewish State. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that the international community had only last weekend learned that, as they say about the Celtics and the Lakers, “Israel and Hamas flat out don’t like each other.”
Several people died in last weekend’s battle, and that is tragic. But something tells me that when all is said and done, the world will be better off as a result of that encounter. I say that because, finally, the underlying problems between the Israelis and the Palestinians are returning to our collective consciousness. And while it is painful to see the sores of the world exposed, without such exposure real progress is impossible.
Before we address what has been revealed in the past week, let’s be clear about what has NOT: who did what to whom on that boat. As someone who conducts investigations for a living, I find it laughable that so many Einsteins abound who are cocked sure that they know the most relevant facts of the incident. Unless they were on the boat itself, those who’ve opined about those facts have simply revealed their bias and undermined their credibility. Hopefully, an investigation will be conducted that has some degree of objectivity. But only then can we know who struck the first blow and who acted with excessive force.
Still, do not despair, for there is much that can be said with confidence about the incident and its general context. And in the name of peace, let me start by being critical of my own people.
Can we now please deal with Israel’s Shermanesque War against the Gazans? Those of us who have paid attention to this region have known for some time that Israel has attempted to keep out of Gaza many medicines and hygiene products, as well as such foods as cilantro, sage, jam, chocolate, French fries and dried fruit. Can anyone possibly argue with a straight face that this is necessary to protect Israel from attack? Or is it more likely that Israel is trying to coerce the Gazan people into getting so fed up with the status quo that they will feel compelled to remove Hamas, Israel’s sworn enemy?
While some might find Israel’s Gaza policy to be not only understandable but perhaps even inspired, I find it counterproductive, offensive, and hardly consistent with the higher principles of Judaism. If there are certain substances that Hamas desires in order to attack Israel (and/or defend themselves in a counterattack), then fine, keep them out of the country. But to deny the people of Gaza basic foods, medications and hygiene products is unworthy of the Star of David.
In short, the situation seems to be fairly cut and dried; Netanyahu and his right-wing cronies would like to torture the Gazan people until they boot out Hamas … or until hell freezes over. My bet is on the latter happening first.
So shame on those in the Israeli Government who have overreacted in their war with Gaza. But unfortunately, as crazy as Israel’s conduct has been, I can hardly say that it’s been unprovoked.
Picture the way the United States deals with Al Qaeda. And now imagine that we have an enemy that has attacked us dozens of times more than Al Qaeda has, and that consistently denies our right to exist. That, my friends, is what Israel faces in Hamas. It is safe to say that if we were in Israel’s position, we’d be hitting Hamas a whole lot harder than Israel has.
So yes, Netanyahu and his Government find themselves in the unenviable position of dealing with rocket fire from a neighboring regime. And what has been very clearly revealed this past week is just how much hatred is directed toward Israel throughout the region. I’m not just talking about hatred from Hamas, but the general sense from Palestinians and the greater Arab community that the idea of a Jewish State in the Middle East is an anathema. Indeed, this attitude seems to be increasingly common throughout the world.
Have you all caught the video of Helen Thomas, the so-called dean of the White House Press Corps, being asked about this situation? I watched with horror as she suggested that the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to such places as Poland and Germany. Go on to the Huffington Post or other sites where the public is allowed to comment about this topic, and you will find all sorts of vitriol heaped against Israel. Of course, none of these people will admit that they are “anti-Semitic.” As they correctly point out, it is one thing to hate Jews and another to hate Zionism. Still, what is remarkable is the depth and extent of people’s hatred of Zionism, which does sometimes spill over into garden variety anti-Semitism. Even in the self-proclaimed Middle East Peace community, it is rare to find a non-Jew who will admit to being a Zionist. Activists talk about wanting a two-state solution, but it soon becomes clear that the “Israeli” state they envision will not provide any special dispensations for Jews, not even immigration benefits. In other words, the “Israel” that peace activists love to say they support is merely an international state that happened to be founded by Jews but will soon enough be populated primarily by non-Jews, since the number of Jews in the Middle East region is small relative to the number of Palestinians and other Arabs.
I hate to break the news to all these anti-Zionists, but the Jewish State won’t allow itself to be destroyed any more than the people of Gaza will allow Israel to tell them who they can elect. And if this region is to have peace, it will have to result from both sides respecting some basic rights of the other – including the Palestinians’ right of self-determination and the Jews’ right to their own piece of earth. I’m not harboring any illusions that these rights will be respected any time soon, but at least we can feel good that progress can occasionally be made in that direction. In the past week, we’ve seen some such progress. Certain abuses of the Netanyahu Administration are being revealed in the media. And some of the Israel-hating enemies of peace are also getting outed in the media. All of this has to happen.
So to Israel, I say: let’s start treating the Gazans like people, shall we? And to the Helen Thomases of the world: go ahead and reveal yourselves for what you are. Your problem isn’t with Zionism, or even Israel. Your problem is with Jews. And the more you talk about those who aren’t Zionistic as “good Jews” or “Jews of conscience,” the more you inspire the rest of us to fight for a Jewish State.