Why did so many progressives describe Israel, not Hamas, as a criminal in the latest round of violence in the Middle East? A medieval democracy, with all its flaws and challenges, deliberately targeting civilians across internationally recognized borders and hiding behind their own civilians for protection. Is it possible to lose the public battle against the fundamentalist regime?
Comedian John Oliver replied on television that it wasn’t a fair fight. He said Israel must be a bully because it has overwhelming power. Look at the death toll on either side, Oliver continued 10 times in favor of Israel. Mortality as an Arithmetic: Hamas launched a shooting war by launching a rocket near Israel, while Hamas sought to maximize the death of Israeli civilians, while Israel died of Palestinian civilians. Trying to minimize is also not a problem. If the Israelites want Oliver’s sympathy, many of us will have to die.
Critics ignore Israel’s vulnerabilities by focusing on Israeli power. The Israeli paradox is that it is at the same time a regional power and a regional loneliness. Surrounded by horrifying excursions in the north and south, the Israelis are keenly aware of the fragility of their borders and the great effort needed to maintain their ability to protect themselves.
Hamas’ successful firing at Israel’s homefront had disastrous strategic consequences for Israel, even announcing the timing of the next rocket barrage. After all, Hamas is our weakest enemy. If the civilian war with Israel could last for nearly two weeks, what would it say about our long-term outlook in the region?
Indeed, the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system destroyed most of the rockets arriving in our city. But the Israelites know another arithmetic. Hezbollah’s arsenal is ten times larger than Hamas’s arsenal and is much more sophisticated. Iron Dome cannot protect us from large-scale rocket and missile attacks on multiple sides.
Our more thoughtful critics understand those situations, but as a dominant force, Israel argues that it must show restraint. If the Israeli army ignored human life and acted unrestrained, the casualties after more than 10 days of bombardment in densely populated Gaza would have been immeasurable.
Nevertheless, the Israelites need to respect the concerns of those who criticize our actions without demonizing us. But our thoughtful abilities are being badly tested by the growing hatred of the Jewish state. For more and more critics, Israel cannot act in prestigious self-defense because its very existence cannot be defended. As anti-Zionists say, Israel is not committing a crime. It’s a crime. Israel must die for justice to take place.
Given the mainstreaming of exclusionist rhetoric against the Jewish state, it is not surprising that violence against Jews around the diaspora is on the rise. If Israel is evil, the Jewish diaspora who supports it, and even those who are indifferent to it, share guilt.
This is also a paradox at this moment. Jews are becoming more and more afraid as Israel is accused of being a bully.
It is fascinating to end the debate here, with the Israelis upset by the dual attacks of rocket and criminalization. Many of us do just that, summarizing what happened in the last two weeks with old and bitter criticisms. The world hates Jews. It doesn’t matter what Israel does. In the end, you will find that we are alone.
Still, no matter how exorbitant Israeli criminalization is, even many of our friends need to understand why they are becoming more and more anxious about Israel’s moral status.
The Israeli dilemma is that it is forced to wage an asymmetrical war against terrorists embedded in civilians, while at the same time occupying the Palestinians on the west bank. To be considered morally credible in the fight against Hamas, we need to prove our commitment to a fair solution to the Palestinian tragedy.
It depends on regular updates of Israel’s historic efforts to resolve the two-state solution. At each major milestone in this conflict, Israeli leaders were in favor of a two-state solution, while Palestinian leaders were in effect against it.
However, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has stopped seeking a credible two-state solution. The last prime minister to do so was Ehud Olmert in 2009. Olmert offered to withdraw from the west bank, uproot dozens of settlements, and subdivide Jerusalem. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas ignored him.
There is no reason to think that Palestinian leaders will be more sensitive today. However, it does not free Israel from its moral and strategic responsibility to provide Palestinians with an alternative future.
Israel is the only country where citizens have sentenced Israel to death. Israel is also the only democracy that is a long-term occupant of others. To effectively combat terrorism, Israel must endeavor to maintain moral trust as a passive occupier. The new Israeli Peace Initiative is an opportunity to convey our vision for a different Middle East.
The new peace process will also allow our friends to clearly affirm at least the moral heights of Israel the next time we are forced to fight those who have committed to our destruction.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and author of “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor”.
This story was originally Los Angeles Times..