Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Moral Equivalence in the Israeli War with Hamas?

The winds of moral equivalence in the Middle East are persistent. As the war between terrorists in Gaza and the Israeli government escalates, the media resists the idea of taking sides. CNN contends there are valid positions on both sides of the divide. Ethan Bonner, the New York Times correspondent contends the wall separating Gaza from Israel and Israel from the West Bank is the real impediment to peace.
But is this true? Israel has been attacked unmercifully with 1500 rockets fired indiscriminately at Israeli population centers. These rockets have only one purpose: instill panic. Israel has responded in the way any nation under siege would. It has fired back forcefully at all the launch sites in Gaza. This has led to collateral damage with about 400 Palestinians killed. What hasn't been emphasized is that Gazan rockets have been fired from mosques, hospitals and schools. Human shields are the tactical defense for terrorism.
On the Israeli side, people are protected from rockets; on the Gazan side rockets are protected from people. There isn't an obvious moral equivalence between sides. Moreover, the Palestinian population rejoiced over the murder of three young Jewish students. The mother of one of the assailants said she admired her son's action. When a group of Israeli youths retaliated by apprehending a Palestinian boy and burning him to death, the Israeli officials were appalled and quickly brought the murderers to justice. Is Jewish blood worth less than the blood of Palestinians?

There isn't any world leader who can tolerate terror bombing on his people without a response. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been patient, but when he speaks he has noted that Jews whatever their political persuasion are united in battling the terror and are prepared to respond with whatever force is necessary to eliminate the threat.
Children should not live their lives in fear that the sound of a siren might mean the end of life. This is the life of an Israeli today. Some contend that there are more deaths on the Gazan side reflecting the use of disproportionate Israeli action. Clearly the loss of any innocent life is tragic. However, it is Hamas that has put its own people in jeopardy. The placement of its rockets reflects the barbarous view of Arab leadership.
This is not a war to end war since the beating heart of bitterness and hatred is everywhere present in the Middle East. However, the immediate threat of Hamas, that has 100,000 missiles in its arsenal, goes to the very survival of Israel. Gaza must be disarmed. If occupation is necessary, so be it. The pockets of arms throughout this strip of land must be discovered and destroyed. There isn't any alternative.
Voltaire once contended that somewhere between contending views lies the truth. In the Middle East this contention is fundamentally flawed. There is one side that is right and one that is wrong. Unfortunately the side that is wrong has gambled the fate of its own population on a saturation bombing strategy.
Tallyand argued "surtort pas trop de zele" (Above all, not too much zeal). Alas, this is the Arab problem. Zealousness dictates policy. A desire to destroy Israel by any means is an overarching theme. Violence has been romanticized by Hamas leaders. Rational discourse, compromise, negotiation have not and will not work. The romance must be eviscerated, revealed as the horror and misguided view it represents.
It starts in Gaza, but will not end there. Israel's enemies surround it, but if this nation under siege can remain strong on the military and emotional front, it will prosper. Determination is the antidote to enemy rockets overhead. Netanyahu understands that and in the outpouring of public unity, the people of Israel understand it as well.

Herbert London is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the President of the London Center for Policy Research. He is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America).

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