Let’s explore two important recent events relative to Israel.
On March 11, 2011, the Fogel family settled down in their West Bank home for the evening and prepared for bed. The mother and father, aged 35 and 36, were with their 3 children including 11 year old and 4 year old sons, and a 4 month old girl. It was then that the murderers from Hamas entered their home, terrorized the family, and then slit the throats of all 5 of them. Yes, even the 4 month old. When news broke the next day of these terrible murders, Israel was of course in shock. Hamas, on the other hand, celebrated in the streets, with thousands cheering their “victory” over the Zionists.
Second, earlier this week Richard Goldstone, author of the controversial “Goldstone Report” for the United Nations, reversed his controversial and completely irresponsible findings regarding the Gaza war in the Winter of 2008/2009 between Israel and Hamas. The reversal calls to mind the outrageous, irresponsible, and racist views of many in regards to Israel and Jews in general, and offer hope that in the end facts and reason will trump irrationality.
Let’s start with the Goldstone Report. In the Winter of 2008, the Israeli’s launched “Operation Cast Lead” against Hamas in Gaza in response to a consistent and sustained barrage of missile attacks from Gaza into Israeli villages and cities (landing randomly on homes, schools, and wherever luck would take them).
When issued, the Goldstone Report stated unequivocally that Israel (and Hamas), as a matter of policy, “deliberately” targeted civilians in their attacks on Gaza (and Israel). In essence it accused both sides of equal horrible intent to kill civilians on purpose. Of course the anti-Semitic UN General Assembly, Amnesty International, college students on liberal campuses everywhere, and the New York Times jumped all over this report as the example of what they have been trying to tell us all along about Israel.
This week Mr. Goldstone wrote an editorial for the Washington Post, found here, that bravely repudiates his own conclusions, and one is left to decide whether to be furious with him for the irreversible damage he has done, or to respect his willingness not to remain silent and stick with his original errant and extremely damaging conclusions.
His new findings should surprise none of us who look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with an unbiased eye. Of course Israel did not deliberately target civilians as a matter of policy, and of course Hamas did- before the war, during the war, and after the war. Yes, it appears that a few Israeli soldiers committed war crimes against civilians, and Israel has been and always does prosecute such crimes. This sadly happens in all wars, and the more moral countries prosecute (Israel, the US, etc.) and the immoral groups celebrate not only the criminals, but the crime, just as Hamas did over the Fogel killings.
It is important to note as well how Hamas operated from Gaza, and how the simple-minded and/or biased media covered the war. Hamas would launch large missile barrages from the top of apartment buildings, from the porches in residential homes, and from the playgrounds of schools that were in session. This is a brilliant strategy when you either don’t want to be counter-attacked, or if you do so that you can get a front-page and above-the-fold photo of a bombed apartment building published in the New York Times. As a Hamas leader you say “We can’t lose. They either won’t attack us here, or if they do we have the BBC, PBS, CNN, and the New York Times, at no charge to us, to publish our propaganda that Israel bombs apartment buildings!”
The response of Hamas, their anti-Semitic friends in the UN General Assembly, and the well-intentioned but wrong-headed Amnesty International stick with their original conclusions. Get this one, even the UN Human Rights Council (you know, the one that has had Venezuela, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Cuba, and others sitting in chair) sticks by their anti-Israel position regarding Cast Lead.
For those of you who knew of the Fogel killings you may have noted that I did not point out that their home was in the disputed West Bank settlements. I’m doing so now for two reasons, one to be thorough, and the other so that I can illustrate how some have “explained”, or even worse “rationalized” the Fogel murders. For those who may have read the first paragraph of this blog and said to themselves “but wait, this event happened in disputed territory”. Should my answer to that be “Oh, OK, well then it makes perfect sense to slit a 4 month old’s throat”. Individuals are entitled to their own points of view regarding the disputed territories, but how some turn their anti-Israel view on these territories into some kind of rationale for such crimes need to take a very close look at their values.
There are many aspects to this complicated situation in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. But these two incidents are very telling in regards to this conflict and the nature of those fighting within it. The overall situation is complex, but the conclusions drawn from the above are clear. There is a huge anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic lobby in the world, Hamas is a terrorist organization that shows no mercy and is committed to the destruction of Israel and likely Jews everywhere, Israel is under constant attack and has to make difficult decisions as to how to defend themselves, and they must always do so in the face of a large international community that secretly supports the likes of Hamas and hates the Jewish people.
When I think about Israel and their actions I always try to think in this way: “What would I do if I was the Prime Minister and it was my most important duty to protect my citizens and defend my nation. What would I do?” I try to get out of “think tank” mode and intellectualization, out of the college lecture hall, and into the Prime Minister of Israel’s office. This would indeed be a most difficult chair to sit in.