So let’s go through them.
The mob howled for vengeance, the missiles raining down on the synagogue walls as the worshippers huddled inside. It was a scene from Europe in the 1930s – except this was eastern Paris on the evening of July 13th, 2014.
Thousands had gathered to demonstrate against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. But the protest soon turned violent – and against Jews in general. One of those trapped told Israeli television that the streets outside were “like an intifada”, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
Some of the trapped Jews fought their way out as the riot police dispersed the crowd. Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, condemned the attack in “the strongest possible terms”, while Joel Mergei, a community leader, said he was “profoundly shocked and revolted”. The words had no effect. Two weeks later, 400 protesters attacked a synagogue and Jewish-owned businesses in Sarcelles, in the north of Paris, shouting “Death to the Jews”. Posters had even advertised the raid in advance, like the pogroms of Tsarist Russia.
Again, I don’t expect those who are either morally indifferent to anti-Semitism, or too cognitively impaired to recognize it when it is staring them in the face, to notice any of this, or to be appropriately moved and outraged by the latest fare-up of the world’s oldest form of bigotry and persecution. But just because the benighted don’t give a damn doesn’t mean that the rest of us shouldn’t.
At least the prime minister of France understands what is happening (even if many of his fellow citizens do not):
Against the backdrop of large anti-Semitic riots in Paris, and the murder of four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by a French Muslim killer, Mehdi Nemmouche, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls made a resoundingly firm connection between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism that other world leaders—and many Jews—are afraid to make. As is his style, he went straight to the point: “Anti-semitism, this old European disease,” he said in a speech, has taken “a new form. It spreads on the Internet, in our popular neighborhoods, with a youth that has lost its points of reference, has no conscience of history, and who hides itself behind a fake anti-Zionism.”
The occasion was the 72th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup—the arrest of 13.000 Jews in Paris, by the French police under German authorities during World War II on the 16th and 17th of July, 1942. Valls’ strong, clear words are a breakthrough that separates him from the general complacency on the subject among most European politicians—and separates France from its growing reputation as a beacon of hate.
The Prime Minister justified his decision to forbid last Saturday’s “anti-israeli” demonstration by stating that the recent acts of violence against Jews “justify the choice to forbid,” and not the other way around, as so many critics had claimed. And without naming Dieudonné, the minister attacked the rancid French performer when he pleaded that “the historical reality of the Shoah should not be denied, or diminished.(…) To laugh at the Shoah is to insult the dead.”
As I have mentioned before, I am actually against banning demonstrations, because (a) I am a free speech absolutist; (b) banning the demonstrations only serves to make the demonstrators look roguish and heroic for standing up to censorship; and (c) banning the demonstrations makes it more difficult for the rest of us to play Spot the Idiots when it comes to identifying the anti-Semites among us. But at least someone is smart enough to recognize that “anti-Zionism” is but a code phrase for “anti-Semitism,” and is willing to call out bigots for what they are.
Of course, the anti-Semites are ripe for mockery, but there is nothing funny about what is happening in the world, and the failure of much of the so-called “civilized community” to condemn the barbaric acts that have occurred against Jewish people worldwide is especially worthy of contempt and opprobrium from those who are truly civilized and humane.
2. Just as annoying as the outright anti-Semites are the pretend-friends of Israel and Jews. You know the type:
People like me know the script when it comes to defending Israel against its outright haters, the people currently attacking synagogues all over Europe in the name of Palestine. They are unhinged, implacable, terrifying… But for this very reason, a known quantity. We’ve been here before, again and again. We have Seen This Movie.
But there is another category of anti-Semitic discourse that is much harder to pin down, in large part because it doesn’t know it’s anti-Semitic. This we might call the MISTIA tendency – “more in sorrow than in anger” – which seems appropriate, since it is an idea swathed in a pseudo-intellectual haze.
It goes roughly like this: “We love Jews, we really do. Christ, Spinoza, Einstein… Ten out of ten all round. But as your friends, we must sorrowfully – nay, ruefully – be brutally honest: you’re not living up to our expectations. The rest of us are counting on you to be nice and enlightened and harmless, but there you go, blowing up innocent Arabs just because you feel like it. It’s a tragedy, I tell you.”
When you hear this from a supposed friend of the Jewish people, run the other way. Of course, Jews and Israel are not immune from criticism. That ought to go without saying. But it also ought to go without saying that it is really hard to find valuable criticism from which Jews and Israel can profit and learn, given just how much disingenuous criticism is out there masquerading as “advice from friends of Israel and the Jewish people.”
3. It is worth noting–again–that criticism of Israel notwithstanding, no nation-state would treat enemies like the ones Israel has with such humanity:
. . . Many on the Israeli/Israeli supporting side don’t want to think about our soldiers dying to protect Palestinians, not with all of the terror inflicted over the years by Palestinian terrorists and terror organizations. Many on the Palestinian/Pro-Palestinian side may find the idea ludicrous, or perhaps offensive, that Israeli soldiers, responsible for Palestinian deaths, could be saving Palestinian lives. But I believe it’s the truth, a truth that few want to think about or face
[. . .]
Critics of Israel may not want to hear this, but the Israeli army has acted with great, even unprecedented, care in taking on the challenge of fighting an enemy in a highly densely populated area. Israeli Air Force strikes have killed twice as many adult males as women and children combined. That’s 70% of the casualties coming from 25% of the population—the 25% of the population from which fighters are typically drawn. Needless to say, with deaths in the hundreds, those numbers are not an aberration. A realistic estimate shows the probability of being killed if you’re a member of a Palestinian terror group to be 25 to 50 times that of a civilian. That’s not targeting civilians. That’s not randomized shooting. That’s precise; it’s discriminatory. One of the world’s most powerful air forces has averaged about 8 strikes per death. That’s basically shooting around people. You could close your eyes, pull a trigger and kill more people.
Such precision, such discrimination, is only possible because Israel can afford to. Not just in budgetary cost (although surely there is great costs to the high numbers of flights and strikes needed to practice such precision), but in human life. If Israel had not invested in bomb shelters, emergency response systems, and especially the Iron Dome and other interception defenses, Israel could not have danced around its enemy while its civilians were shot at. Israel could not have afforded the precision, the discrimination, if hundreds were dying of Hamas rockets. With the capabilities to do so, the Air Force could, would have stopped pulling punches, would have hit back far harder than it has. Not targeting civilian structures—we don’t do that (accidents occur, but we don’t intentionally target civilians), but hitting military targets with far less concern for collateral damage. Israel has the luxury of taking the hits and pinching back, saving hundreds if not thousands of Palestinian lives, and it has that luxury at a price tag—that of the entire emergency defense system, one in which we spend up to 50 times the cost of a Hamas rocket to intercept it.
And how was this show of humanity reciprocated? With this:
A squad of Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel inside Israel Monday evening and killed five soldiers, but failed to carry out an abduction
The attack took place south of Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the vicinity of the Karmi Crossing with the Gaza Strip.
The five soldiers were named by the army as Sgt. Daniel Kedmi, 18, from Tsofim; Sgt. Barkey Ishai Shor, 21, from Jerusalem; Sgt. Sagi Erez, 19, from Kiryat Ata; Sgt. Dor Dery, 18, from Jerusalem; and Sgt. Nadav Raimond, 19, from Shadmot Dvora.
The Hamas squad surfaced 150 meters inside Israel and fired an anti-tank missile at an army position. The barracks, just below the lookout tower, was hit, and four soldiers were mortally wounded. The soldiers in the lookout tower spotted the squad advancing on the position and trying to drag away one of the soldiers who had been hit. They then opened fire, killing at least one of the gunmen. The others fled.
Compare and contrast. Israel’s concern about the tunnels, and its determination to do something about them is entirely justified:
An Israeli military spokesman said that in the tunnels uncovered so far, soldiers have found more than 70 side shafts. Inside the Ein Hashlosha tunnel, they picked up potato-chip bags dated as late as February. Elsewhere, there were dates, water and crackers; rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles; small rooms for sleeping or hiding; a kidnapping kit of tranquilizers and plastic handcuffs; Israeli Army uniforms; and a Bosch drill used for digging the tunnels that Colonel Azulai described as “a very good one.”
“It’s like a subway under Gaza,” he said.
Israeli experts said each tunnel would take up to a year and cost up to $2 million to build, involving dozens of diggers working by hand and with small electric tools. The military has known about the tunnels since at least 2003 and had a task force studying them for a year, but was nonetheless stunned at the sophisticated network they found.
Intelligence officers track the tunnels by watching for piles of dirt and men disappearing into buildings for days, as well as through communications equipment used underground, according to several Army veterans. But radar designed to detect oil or gas far deeper underground, they said, has often failed to find the tunnels, which burrow through mixed soil closer to the surface that technology has not yet been able to detect.
“Most of the tools, the physical tools, don’t work on this level of the ground — the physics, it’s very limited,” explained Brig. Gen. Shimon Daniel, who commanded Israel’s combat engineering corps from 2003 to 2007 and has since retired. “This is the paradox. It’s not easier. It’s more difficult.”
No nation-state worth its salt would allow this kind of threat to continue to exist. No nation-state worth its salt would fail to take action to eliminate such a threat. And yet, when Israel acts to protect its citizens against this determined and sophisticated attempt to breach the Jewish state’s defenses, so many in the international community get the vapors because–again, it is worth saying this–Jewish people are just not dying fast enough to satisfy the many anti-Semites in the world.
4. This portion of the blog post is dedicated to all those who never tire of telling us that “if only Israel would end the occupation, the attacks against it would stop as well.” Spare me:
CBS News’ Charlie Rose interviewed Khaled Meshaal for Face the Nation Sunday morning, and attempted to corner him as to whether the Palestinians would recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state provided it was not occupying the Palestinian territories.
Meshaal had initially said, “We are not fanatics. We are not fundamentalists. We do not, actually, fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We fight the occupiers.”
Rose asked if this pledge to coexist included Israel. “It’s one thing to say you want to coexist with the Jews, it’s another thing to say you want to coexist with the state of Israel,” Rose said.
Meshaal said several times that he would not coexist with “the occupiers,” and Rose responded several times that he meant in a situation in which Israel had pulled out of the territories. Finally Rose point blank asked him if he would recognize Israel, at which point Meshaal appeared to say that he would not, though he continued to speak of Israel as “the occupiers.”
He then demurred and said it would be a question decided by the Palestinians. “When we have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies,” Meshaal said. “But you cannot actually ask me about the future. I answered you. But Palestinian people can have their say, when they have their own state, without occupation.”
Israel’s enemies are determined to remain enemies until either they are killed, or until Israel is wiped off the map. Just because there are people who refuse to pay attention to, and bear in mind this key fact doesn’t mean that the rest of us should join them in lotus-eating. Peter Wehner adds valuable commentary:
So there you have it. The leader of Hamas says, point blank, it does not want a two-state solution. Yet scores of liberal commentators continue to make arguments like this: “We have to get a solution. And it has to be a two-state solution. And it has to be basically encouraged, if not imposed, I think, from without.”
This is an example of what social scientists call “motivated reasoning.” It refers to when people hold to a false belief despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In this instance, the Hamas charter and the Hamas leader don’t accept Israel’s right to exist. And yet liberals don’t seem to care. They appear to be content to live in world made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. A world of make believe. And so in the context of Israel’s war with Hamas, they continue to revert to arguments that simply don’t apply–for example, arguing that Israel needs to “end the occupation” despite the fact that Israel completely withdrew from Gaza nearly a decade ago.
Israel, on the other hand, has to live and survive in reality. Israelis know the nature of the enemy they face–implacable, committed, ruthless, malevolent. Given all this, and given that Israel itself is a nation of extraordinary moral and political achievements, you might think that the United States government would be fully supportive of the Jewish state in its war against Hamas. But you would be wrong.
The Obama administration is racheting up pressure on Israel. Hamas’s war on Israel, combined with its eagerness to have innocent Palestinians die as human shields in order to advance its propaganda campaign, is pushing America (under Obama) not toward Israel but away from her. Mr. Obama and the left perceive themselves as reality based and their critics as fantasy based. It’s a conceit without merit. And in no case is it more evident than in the left’s stance toward Hamas and Israel.
This is a case where reality and all the arguments, including all the moral arguments, align on one side; and yet Obama and the left are on the other.
They live in a fantasy world. In this instance, doing so has diabolic consequences.
5. And of course, this blog post would not be complete without pointing out that when it comes to trying to bring an end to the fighting, the Obama administration is not having its finest hour. Of particular note is the fact that the country was spared a thoroughly inept presidency when it refused to elect John Kerry in 2004, and that John Kerry has decided to take his revenge on the country by serving as secretary of state and setting back the art of public diplomacy to the Pleistocene Era:
Secretary of State John Kerry has made a significant mistake in how he’s pursuing a Gaza cease-fire — and it’s not surprising that he has upset both the Israelis and some moderate Palestinians.
Kerry’s error has been to put so much emphasis on achieving a quick halt to the bloodshed that he has solidified the role of Hamas, the intractable, unpopular Islamist group that leads Gaza, along with the two hard-line Islamist nations that are its key supporters, Qatar and Turkey. In the process, he has undercut not simply the Israelis but also the Egyptians and the Fatah movement that runs the Palestinian Authority, all of which want to see an end to Hamas rule in Gaza.
A wiser course, which Kerry rejected in his hunt for a quick diplomatic solution, would have been to negotiate the cease-fire through the Palestinian Authority, as part of its future role as the government of Gaza. Hamas agreed last April to bring the authority back to Gaza as part of a unity agreement with Fatah that was brokered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
That was only the latest time the Israelis and Palestinians showed clearly that they were not interested in following Kerry’s lead. Twice in the past three weeks, for example, Kerry was forced to delay a deal-making trip to the region because of resistance from one side or the other. First, the Egyptians released their ceasefire proposal as Kerry was preparing to board the plane from Vienna to Cairo. Hamas rejected it immediately and Kerry stood down.
Days later, Kerry was again preparing to leave for Egypt when Israel began its ground offensive in Gaza, without giving significant warning to the U.S. When Kerry finally traveled to Egypt early last week, the Israelis made clear he wasn’t invited.
After being caught on a hot mic July 20 saying, “It’s crazy to just be sitting around,” Kerry finally departed for Egypt. He spent most of the week in his hotel in Cairo, holding meetings and making dozens of phone calls, traveling to Israel and the West Bank for a few hours only July 23.
When Kerry sent the Israel government his draft ceasefire proposal July 25, the Israeli cabinet rejected it unanimously and senior Israeli officials leaked several angry and nasty criticisms of Kerry to the Israeli press. Kerry’s meeting with the Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers in Paris on July 26 evoked another round of leaked quotes about Israel’s frustration with Kerry’s effort.
Of course, the Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel was wary of Kerry’s efforts. Israel has been resisting Kerry’s criticism that their operations should focus more on avoiding civilian casualties and has groused that Kerry’s proposal would reward Hamas for launching barrages of rockets into Israel. Israeli officials have also disparaged Kerry in public and private ever since Kerry’s last Middle East peace push collapsed in April.
But anonymous Israeli officials were not the only ones grousing about Kerry’s diplomacy. Asharq al-Aswat, an Arab newspaper based in London, quoted a senior Palestinian Authority official over the weekend saying Kerry’s plan was an attempt to destroy the Egyptian ceasefire proposal.
Of particular note is the following from the story:
The Israeli government was not confident the IDF would be able to continue tunnel destruction inside Gaza during the ceasefire. The officials in Jerusalem were not willing to commit to any timeline for completing the tunnel mission because they were still discovering the extent of the tunnel network and thought the mission could take as long as three weeks to complete.
“The Israelis felt their security concerns weren’t addressed by Kerry’s proposal,” said Dennis Ross, a former White House senior official and longtime Mideast envoy. “The ceasefire was going to put the Israelis in a position where the tunnels were still there. A ceasefire that doesn’t address that is not one that the Israelis could accept.”
I suppose that it should not surprise anyone that Israel wouldn’t be a fan of cease-fires that only serve to strengthen Hamas’s position.