Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Pathetic "Progressive" Response to Hamas' War Against Israel

There is a great amount of Fear and Shame at the Heart of Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism, and we see both elements in the irresponsible public statements of people who blame Israel for the violence and suffering caused by nations and organizations that are trying to destroy Israel. 

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, and U.S. Representatives Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib have each issued public condemnations of Israel while refusing to acknowledge the reality that Israel is under attack by state-sponsored terrorist groups (most notably Hamas) that have the proudly declared goal of annihilating Israel and that have deemed it acceptable to attack Jewish people anywhere in pursuit of that goal; Jewish people have been attacked on the streets in California, Florida, New York and other locations in recent days. These terrorist groups and the states that fund them (most notably Iran) are also anti-American, so it is not an exaggeration to say that the U.S. political leaders who rebuke Israel while disregarding Hamas' crimes and acts of war are giving aid and comfort to America's enemies.

There are also U.S. political figures who have made "even-handed" condemnations of both sides, which makes about as much sense as condemning Nazi Germany for attacking Great Britain while also condemning Great Britain for defending herself from being attacked.

It is inherently racist to judge one people or one nation by different standards than are applied to other people or other nations. No country is perfect, including the U.S., but Israel is held to a different (and unreasonable) standard compared to other countries. Israel is a democratic country. Arab citizens of Israel serve in the Knesset (Israel's equivalent to Congress or Parliament). Name one Arab country where a Jewish person can or does serve in the parliament. Compare the status of women, gays, people of color--any group you want--in Israel to the status of those people in the countries neighboring Israel. There is no valid comparison. One can disagree with a specific Israeli policy. That is fine. Israelis disagree about their country's policies, just like Americans disagree about our country's policies. The unacceptable thing is to label a democratic country an "Apartheid state" and to make specific, false allegations about Israeli conduct.

When a person purports to care about human rights but is obsessively focused on slandering a democracy with a population of seven million while saying nothing about the atrocities committed by totalitarian states that person is not a progressive but that person is a hypocrite (or worse). When Kwame Toure (formerly Stokely Carmichael) spouted anti-Zionist rhetoric in the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rebuked him for being antisemitic. Unfortunately, in 2021 there are many people like Toure but there is no modern-day Dr. King.

There is a notion that the Middle East political situation is complicated, but the situation itself is not complicated (peacefully resolving the situation is complicated because there are parties who have no interest in peaceful resolutions, but that is a separate issue from understanding the situation). Hamas' attacks against Israel are not a legitimate response to alleged Israeli atrocities but rather a continuation of Hamas's genocidal campaign to destroy Israel and the Jewish people, a subject that I analyzed at length in an article that I wrote in 2014 when Hamas was attacking Israel

Forget the false message disseminated by perhaps the most successful propaganda campaign in world history; there is no such thing as a Palestinian Arab people and there has never been an Arab country named Palestine or indeed any independent Arab country where the State of Israel now exists. The Roman Empire, after subduing the Judean Revolt nearly 2000 years ago, renamed Judea "Syria Palestina" and renamed Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina." The former term, shortened to "Palestine," refers to the geographical areas known in modern times as the State of Israel, Jordan, Gaza and Judea/Samaria. It cannot be emphasized enough that Palestine is a geographical term; it does not refer to a nation nor is there such a thing as a Palestinian language or a distinct Palestinian culture. After the Roman Conquest, various empires conquered Palestine but no one established an independent country there. Jews prayed for and dreamed about reestablishing a Jewish State in their ancestral homeland but this did not become a practical idea until the 1800s, after the birth of modern nationalist movements. The Jewish modern nationalist movement, Zionism, turned the ancient Jewish dream into a reality as Jewish people who lived in Palestine, plus Jews who returned home to Palestine after fleeing persecution in Europe, built up Palestine from a desolate and sparsely inhabited wasteland into a place where the desert bloomed. That in turn attracted Arab immigration to Palestine from throughout the region. During the early 20th century there were various nascent Arab nationalist movements but there was no such thing as a Palestinian national movement (other than the Jewish Palestinian national movement); indeed, before the founding of the modern State of Israel, the terms "Palestine" and "Palestinians" almost exclusively referred to Jewish organizations and Jews: the major Jewish newspaper in pre-state Israel was the Palestine Post (now known as the Jerusalem Post) and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was founded as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra.

The term Palestine was not understood to mean a separate Arab nation until an anti-Israel propaganda campaign transmogrified the meaning of that word after the founding of the modern State of Israel. Indeed, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964 in Cairo as an Egyptian puppet at a time when Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria and Egypt controlled Gaza. The PLO, sponsored at that time by the Soviet Union and other totalitarian countries, was not trying to "liberate" land from Israel, because the land that the PLO was supposedly trying to "liberate" was at that time under Arab control; the PLO was founded to destabilize and destroy Israel as part of the Soviet Union's Mideast designs during the Cold War. The PLO never represented the interests of an underdog, oppressed people; the PLO has always been a well-funded tool of various totalitarian regimes and the PLO's goals have always focused on destroying Israel, not on "liberation."

During Israel's War of Independence, several hundred thousand Arabs fled from Israel, exhorted by Arab military leaders to temporarily evacuate in order to make way for the planned massacre of Israel's Jewish residents. These Arabs expected to triumphantly return to a land with no Jews but instead Israel defeated the combined armies of her Arab neighbors. In most wars, the losing side is responsible for resettling its refugees or else a de facto population exchange occurs (few people talk about the fact that, at the same time that hundreds of thousands of Arabs voluntarily left Israel, hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Arab countries, with most of those Jews fleeing to Israel). Not only did the Arab countries refuse to resettle their Arab brethren who they had exhorted to leave Israel but the so-called Palestinian Arabs are the only group in the world that has an entire UN organization devoted exclusively to their particular concerns: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). All other refugee crises in the world are dealt with by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. At the end of 2012, the UNHCR listed listed 45.2 million displaced people worldwide, the largest such number since 1994. The biggest single displaced person crisis in the world is focused in Pakistan, a result of decades of war, tyranny and instability in that region. The disproportionate attention paid to a fictional Palestinian nation and a real--but eminently solvable--Arab refugee problem not only does injustice to both Israel and the refugees in question (who have been exploited as political pawns by Israel's enemies for decades) but it also hinders efforts to solve other more severe refugee crises.

It is bad enough that there is an entire UN organization focusing on refugees of a fictional nation, people who share a common language, culture and religion with most of the other Arab countries in the Mideast and who should have been accepted by those countries decades ago, much like Israel welcomed Jewish refugees from Arab countries--but what really makes the UNRWA completely disgusting is that the UNRWA is complicit in war crimes committed against Israel. Three times in the past month, Hamas rockets have been found at UNRWA facilities. The first time that rockets were discovered in a UNRWA facility during the current conflict, the UNRWA handed over the rockets to Hamas, a flagrant violation of the UNRWA's purported neutrality. Michael Curtis makes a strong case that Hamas should be indicted for war crimes:

In its behavior towards Israel, Hamas is guilty of both crimes against humanity and war crimes according to Article 7(1) of the Rome Statute, which applies to murder and extermination. Hamas is guilty of a government policy in which those two crimes are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Its actions are more than isolated inhumane acts and constitute a consistent pattern of behavior. The stated aim of Hamas is not simply to harm Israeli civilians, but rather a policy of genocide, the killing of Jews, and the elimination of the State of Israel. Hamas has really only one grievance: the existence of Israel.

Article 8(2)(b) of the Rome Statute deals with the war crime of using protected persons as shields. Hamas has been guilty on numerous occasions of this crime--the intention to shield a military objective from attack or shield, favor, or impede military operations. The major war crime of Hamas is to use children for this purpose. Golda Meir, in her straightforward manner, once commented, "We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us." In contrast, Hamas has stated that preserving the capacity to bomb civilians in Israel is more valued than the loss of Palestinian children.
Those children have been used not only as human shields to protect the terrorists. They have also been used for actions such as being messengers and couriers for the terrorists, for digging tunnels into Israel, and for smuggling. Hamas has used them for military activities, including throwing grenades and rocks, and even for suicide bomber missions. Schools and kindergartens have been used to store missiles and mortars and as launching sites, in the same way as hospitals, mosques, and public places have been used. The sad reality is that Gaza children do not dream of becoming rocket scientists; they dream of firing rockets and becoming holy martyrs.

There is ample evidence to present to the International Criminal Court, including the outspoken statement of the U.N. secretary-general, the discovery that tunnels used for aggression are located under hospitals and private property, and the videos of Hamas actions. One video clearly shows rockets being fired next to civilian buildings. Another shows a demonstration of human shields as civilians were forced to gather on top of the home of a known Hamas terrorist to prevent an attack by Israel. Ban Ki-moon has spoken of the need to address the "root causes" of instability in Gaza. A case brought against Hamas before the International Criminal Court would find that the basis of instability in Gaza is the crimes against humanity and the war crimes committed by Hamas.

Civilian deaths are tragic, but blaming Israel for deaths that are directly caused by the illegal and irresponsible actions of her enemies is a disgraceful and ignorant response. Any political leaders who blame Israel should be ashamed, and the voters who elected those political leaders should think about whether or not those political leaders are representing them and their communities in an effective, honorable manner. There is No Moral Equivalence Between Israel and Hamas, and self-proclaimed "progressives" who pretend otherwise are not only endangering the lives of Jewish people by aiding and abetting Hamas, but they are discrediting and taking focus away from the legitimate issues that they purportedly care so much about.  

Natan Sharansky's "Town Square Test" is perhaps the simplest way to understand the difference between Israel and Iran (and China, North Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and many other totalitarian regimes): if you can stand in the town square and publicly criticize the country's leader without consequence, then you live in a free and open society. Israel's critics should move to Iran, march in the streets demanding the ouster of the country's leaders plus the immediate enactment of equal rights for women and minorities, and then those critics should report back to us how their "progressive" campaigns fared in Iran. 

Regarding the political, civil, and/or national rights of Arabs and/or Muslims, there is a vast group of Arab and/or Islamic nations extending from Morocco to Pakistan, so Arabs and/or Muslims have many different homelands. There is but one tiny Jewish State, built on the same land where the ancient Jewish State was founded centuries before Islam was born. Also, it should be noted that there is an Arab State in Palestine that is approximately four times the size of Israel. Great Britain unilaterally (and in violation of the original terms of the Palestine Mandate) designated the eastern 80% of the Palestine Mandate for the creation of an Arab state (now known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan). Saying "Jordan is Palestine" is simply stating a geographical and political truth, much like saying Michigan is in the Midwest. You may not like Michigan (particularly if you are an Ohio State fan), but that does not change political or geographical reality; you may not like that Jordan is Palestine, but that does not change political or geographical reality. Any Arab who wishes to live in an Arab state in Palestine has the opportunity to do so in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Any Arab who prefers to live in an open, free, and democratic society can do so in Israel--and many Arabs have done so, enjoying more freedom and a higher standard of living than is available elsewhere in the Mideast. It must be emphasized that all of Israel's Arab citizens have full legal rights, including the right to vote and the right to run for political office--even if they run on an anti-Israel platform. 

The statements and actions of many "progressives" regarding Israel are pathetic, but sadly not surprising. What is surprising is how many Jewish people remain stalwartly "progressive" even when it is evident that such a stance not only endangers their survival but the survival of free and open societies. This is not about being a Democrat or being a Republican (the extreme right is of course also dangerous, but Jewish people are more vocal about that danger), but rather about recognizing that there are self-proclaimed "progressives" whose support for human rights is not sincere but rather hypocritical and selective.

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