No one is as gentle in self-defense as Israel
Hamas once warned Israelis that Hamas "loves death more than you love life." On Monday, Hamas showed they weren't bluffing when they said that.
As the U.S. was in the midst of opening its new embassy in Jerusalem, recently relocated from Tel-Aviv by order of President Trump, about 60 Palestinian protesters, including 8 children, were tear gassed and shot dead during a violent demonstration on the Israeli-Gaza border.
Monday marked the bloodiest day on the border since 2014. The Palestinian leadership claim their demonstrations were meant to protest the embassy’s move, the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel itself, and the Nabka, the Palestinian eviction. The demonstrations are expected to continue in the coming days.
What are we to make of this? I have myself been a long supporter of Israel and its sovereignty in the Middle East, but even I was flabbergasted at the number killed at this protest.
My first thoughts on this issue ran along those lines: “Couldn’t the IDF exercise restraint? How does an ethical army like the IDF fire upon 60 unarmed civilians? Are the deprivations of the Israeli occupation pushing these civilians to hurl themselves into gunfire?”
The mainstream U.S. media, in its coverage of this crisis, was quick to prey on my newly-shaken pro-Israel convictions by issuing headline after headline accusing Israel of war crimes, the unwarranted murder of civilians, and even genocide. The story I was sold was of civilians peacefully protesting and war-crazed Israeli Zionists slaughtering babies.
Is this the truth? Is Israel the child-killing, warmongering nation it is made out to be?
My initial questioning of the IDF’s behavior on the border is healthy and to be expected when any country takes part in such atrocities. But a larger context is necessary to fully grasp the situation.
This is in no way pardoning Israel of its crimes, past and present. There is no doubt that Israeli soldiers have committed atrocities, as soldiers often do in the middle of war zones, and that Palestinians have grossly suffered under occupation. But while keeping these crimes in mind, one has to admit that no country has wielded its military might as gently in self-defense as has Israel.
In 1947, the Jewish people accepted the U.N. resolution to create and institute the country of Israel, while no Arab countries did. As soon as British rule ended, the one-day-old Jewish nation was attacked by Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan, Syria, and Egypt, who sought its total destruction and the murder of its Jewish inhabitants.
To everyone’s surprise, Israel won the war, and survived.
In 1967, the dictator of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, announced his plan along with other adjacent Arab states to destroy Israel once more. Israel, while simultaneously begging neighboring Jordan for peace, (a peace offer they promptly denied by escalating the violence) pre-emptively attacked Egypt, and conquered the entire Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, and the West Bank.
This was followed by the now-known meeting of Arab leaders in Sudan, and their infamous three No’s: No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, and No negotiations with Israel.
When, a decade later, under new leadership Egypt promised peace, Israel returned the entire Sinai desert, an area bigger than Israel itself and rich in oil, to Egypt.
I myself, like so many others, am convinced that a two-state solution is the best chance we have in solving this conflict. In this regard, I cannot objectively say that both parties have equally participated in realizing this outcome. Israel has on multiple occasions offered the Palestinian authorities a state of their own, but they refused, constantly and violently.
In 1936, the Peel Commission was sent to investigate the Arab revolt taking place in the Middle East. It concluded that the cause of the conflict was that two peoples, the Jews and Arabs, wanted sovereignty over the same land. The British then decided to give the Arab parties 80 percent of the disputed land, essentially reducing the promised Jewish land to 20 percent of what it is now.
Nevertheless, they accepted, while the Arabic parties didn’t. Ten years later in 1947, after British rule ended, the neighboring Arab states sought to destroy one-day-old Israel, which wanted nothing more than the right to exist.
In 2000, Israeli leadership met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to discuss yet another land for peace transaction. Arafat’s response to the Israeli land offer, which roughly encompassed 96 percent of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as capital, can be encapsulated in the words of then-President Bill Clinton who orchestrated the talks: “He’s been here 14 days, and he’s said no to everything.”
When confrontations like Monday’s take place, I unconditionally support unbiased international inquiries and investigation. This is the standard to which we hold ourselves and our democratic allies, as well as being a key factor differentiating humanist and autocratic societies. But to immediately claim that Israel willfully participated in genocide is ridiculous. Hours after the attack, a list of dozens of military Hamas operatives were pronounced as martyrs during these protests. Not everyone at the border was a peaceful civilian.
Multiple reports show grenades and Molotov cocktails, explosives strapped to kites painted with swastikas, and firearms being hurled and shot toward Israeli military and civilian positions. Hamas has been known for using human shields, especially women and children, as cover for their military operations. Whether it be firing rockets from densely populated civilian areas, schools, or hospitals, or using human shields against Israeli fire, the democratically elected ruling party of Gaza do not deserve the moral equivalency drawn between them and Israel.
To grasp the root of the moral divide between the parties in this conflict, ask yourself this question, as posed often by Dennis Prager, of Prager University:
- If Israel immediately swore to no longer defend itself, and put down arms at all costs, what would happen?
- If the neighboring Arab states, Hamas, and the Palestinians immediately swore to no longer participate in violence, and put down arms at all costs, what would happen?
In the first case, Israel would likely be invaded within the day, and its population would face annihilation. This is what is stated in the Hamas charter, based in Quranic prophecy, which actively seeks the genocide of the entire Jewish population in Israel and abroad. This is the party that democratically won 74 out of the 142 seats in the 2006 Palestinian election, and 44 percent of the popular vote.
In the second case, Israel would finally get its wish of peaceful coexistence, and there would be peace within the day. Perhaps then this 70-year-old conflict, with all its misery death and despair, could finally lay its ugly head away.