(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)
Operation Protective Edge is a fight between good and evil. There is no moral equivalence here.
From the Hamas Charter: • “Israel will exist…until Islam will obliterate it” (Preamble) • “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them” (Article 7) • “There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad” (Article 13) • “[Peace] initiatives…are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement” (Article 13) At a time when the Jewish Diaspora should be coming together to fight a movement whose raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, progressives have introduced a concept of moral equivalence into debate on a conflict that is as close to black-and-white as one could imagine.
Haaretz recently featured an article titled, “Is Israel Committing War Crimes in Gaza?” Yet, the Geneva Convention states: “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.” Translation: According to international law, Israel can legally attack military targets “protected” by human shields.
Yet Israel, unlike almost any other nation in an equivalent situation, chooses to carefully minimize aiming at legitimate military targets to minimize civilian casualties. This, because civilians were purposefully placed there by Hamas.
Progressive Zionist Rabbi Eric Yoffie describes Operation Protective Edge as the same “cycle of violence [that] has repeated itself endlessly.”
“Cycle of violence” is a neutral proxy for moral equivalence, and equal culpability. Hamas, the genocidal organization that aspires to kill Jews worldwide, and Israel, the vital democracy under existential threat for its entire existence, are immorally conflated by most of the world. “Stop the Rockets, Stop the Settlements,” is the headline of Rabbi Yoffie’s article about Hamas and Operation Protective Edge. He writes, “Israel’s settlement policy is an utter disaster. It has no supporters of consequence anywhere in the world.”
If Hamas didn’t fire rockets, there would be no cycle of violence.
Why do progressive Jews feel the need to bring the issue of settlements into Israel’s conflict with Hamas – while the fighting is still raging and 5,000,000 Israelis are under threat – a conflict between good and evil that is so obviously black-and-white? There have been no settlements in Gaza since 2009, since which time the Palestinians could have turned Gaza into Dubai, but instead chose to turn it into a terrorist enclave.
Hamas does not want to destroy Israel because of settlements.
Hamas considers even Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba settlements.
Rabbi Yoffie writes that progressives are “encouraged by signs of moderation from PA President Mahmoud Abbas.” What signs? President Abbas is now serving the 10th year of his four-year term, and he still demands the right of return for Palestinian descendants of refugees to Israel proper. He refuses to recognize a Jewish state. He refuses to sign an end-of-conflict agreement, demanded by prime ministers Rabin, Barak and Netanyahu.
Most egregiously, Fatah’s military wing is now operating in Gaza with its “unity” partner Hamas, firing missiles at Israeli civilian targets.
In this context, so-called “moderation” and war crimes seemingly go hand in hand.
Progressives ignore the belief of many Israeli officials and military analysts that if Israel left the West Bank today, it would be overrun by Hamas within days. It would be 100 times more dangerous than Gaza is now.
While sirens were ringing in Tel Aviv last week, Obama’s Middle East representative Phillip Gordon was at a “peace” conference in Tel Aviv, chastising Israel.
“How can Israel have peace if it’s unwilling to delineate a border, end the occupation?” he asked.
When will progressives realize that the Arab speakers invited to “peace” conferences tell their Jewish audience what it wants to hear? The audience never gets around to reading the Arabic translation.
Operation Protective Edge is a fight between good and evil. There is no moral equivalence here. In 2005 the Palestinians had open borders, and there was not a Jew in Gaza, but they chose terrorism when they took over. Maybe someday they will change their minds. Until then the world should not confuse self-defense with genocide.
The author is founder and director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political and Information Network.