Since its very founding in 1948, Israel has been immersed in an endless and bloody fight for its survival. And although most Western nations–the U.S. in particular–have always been solid allies to the little Middle Eastern country, the recent surge of conflict in Gaza has led to a disturbing increase in world-wide anti-Semitism. In many European countries, such as France, Italy, and Austria, innocent Jews are being accosted and attacked by angry Palestinian supporters. Even in Germany, where the memory of the Holocaust is far from forgotten, pro-Palestinian groups have been targeting the country’s Jewish population as they take to the streets in violent condemnation of Israel.
Closer to home there persists a different type of aggression, however, as the American media continues to misreport on Gaza in a way that unjustly portrays the Israelis as the bad guys and the Palestinians as the sole victims.
Now, don’t get me wrong–Palestinians have undoubtedly suffered because of the war. Although the civilian death count still remains uncertain, it’s clear that many innocents have perished in the past few months because of the conflict. But most newspapers and television outlets attribute their deaths to Israel, when the majority of the blame actually lies with Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip and thus bears responsibility for the civilian population within.
First and foremost, Hamas was the first to strike, firing rockets into Israel back in the beginning of July; it was their aggression that prompted Operation Protective Edge and Israel’s military response. Moreover, Hamas intentionally stores its rockets inside civilian facilities, such as hospitals, schools (including UN schools), and mosques. This scheme not only helps protect their operation, but it also forces Israel to fire amongst civilians, increasing the death toll of innocent Palestinians and leading the international community to condemn Israel for its apparent ruthlessness. Indeed, even former president Bill Clinton has acknowledged and denounced this duplicitous strategy–a strategy the rest of world either disbelieves or ignores. And let’s not forget that Hamas has broken every single ceasefire in the past two months, exchanging the brief periods of respite in Gaza for more warfare.
Although many continue to criticize Israel for targeting civilian areas, Hamas hardly receives any criticism for its arbitrary rocket strikes throughout Israel. In fact, while Hamas shows absolutely no regard for Jews who may be caught in their crossfire, Israel does all it can to keep innocent Palestinians from getting in the way of the war. It’s well known that the Israeli army distributes leaflets, telephones residents, or otherwise warns innocent people in targeted areas, giving them time to evacuate before launching airstrikes. Hamas, on the other hand, actually tells citizens in Gaza to ignore these life-saving warnings. And as one unapologetic Rabbi notes, “Israel is treating wounded Palestinians during this conflict, risking Israeli lives in surgical strikes to destroy weapons-smuggling tunnels”–tunnels that were built with the very materials Israel gave to Gaza for beneficial infrastructure work. Yet despite all this, Israel is the one facing war crimes inquiries by the United Nations.
Another falsehood perpetuated by the media is the moral equivalency often drawn between Israel and its enemies. The narrative is essentially that because both sides are fighting each other with relatively equal amounts of violence, each side shares equal responsibility for the conflict and thus the morality of their actions should be judged in the same way.
The series of kidnappings that occurred in June, which served as a major catalyst for the recent conflict, helps reveal how irrational this equivalency is. When members of Hamas kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers from a settlement in the West Bank, the Palestinian community rallied around the murder as Hamas officials hailed the kidnappers as “heroes.” The mother of Abu Aysha, one of the suspects, even exclaimed, “If he truly did it–I’ll be proud of him till my final day.” When three Israelis kidnapped and killed one Palestinian teen, however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu’s office condemned the murder as “despicable” and immediately called for law enforcement to find those responsible. The families of the kidnapped Israeli teens–who anyone would expect to feel avenged–actually denounced any acts of revenge, saying, “one should not differentiate between bloods, be it Arab or Jew.” What’s the lesson learned here? Hamas and the Palestinian community celebrate when Israelis die, while Israelis mourn when Palestinians die.
Indeed, virulent anti-Semitism pervades every inch of Palestinian society. The charter of Hamas very clearly calls for the complete obliteration of Israel, and it’s no secret that most of the surrounding Arab nations share the desire for a Jew-free Middle East. Anti-Semitism is shamelessly force-fed to children early on, as evidenced by this clip of a Palestinian television show for kids. In the show, little boys and girls are told to fight and stone Jews if ever they encounter one, and the host–who’s quite young herself–applauds a toddler for expressing a desire to become a policeman so she can “shoot the Jews.” Another disturbing video shows footage of young Palestinian children at a summer camp being indoctrinated and taught to practice jihad against Israel. What’s even worse is that the camp–apparently known as “Camp Jihad”–is financed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), a UN organization to which the U.S. gave $240 million in 2011.
So rather than feel outraged that Israel would dare fight back against terrorists who absolutely despise them, the American media should be more angered by the fact that taxpayer dollars contribute to the promotion of bigotry and the manipulation of children overseas.
Furthermore, a double standard full of latent anti-Semitism has manifested in the criticisms of Israel voiced by protestors throughout the world. American celebrities haven’t been shy about expressing their disapproval of Israel–with some even describing the violence as “genocide”–but no matter the source, it appears the opposition stems from the deaths of some 2,000 individuals in Gaza (though not all of them innocent). Strangely enough, however, much bloodier conflicts persist across the Middle East, and these same demonstrators have nothing to say.
So far the Syrian civil war has caused over 170,000 deaths, with civilians accounting for one-third of all casualties (that’s 51,000 innocent people). The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not only pledged to kill all Christians, but also has begun systematically beheading children and raping Yezidi women en-masse as they pursue their ethnic cleansing campaign. Violence continues to escalate in Yemen between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, while the Taliban is expanding its influence in Afghanistan by attacking government buildings and killing civilians who resist their control. And remember those Nigerian girls we all tweeted about a few months back? It seems Michelle Obama’s hashtag diplomacy was utterly useless, as hundreds of them are still missing and just this past week Boko Haram kidnapped dozens more innocent children.
Let’s get this straight: the world is collectively outraged at Israel’s military response because it has resulted in the deaths of innocents in Gaza. Yet terrorist organizations like the Taliban, Boko Haram, and ISIS are all doing their fair share of senseless killing, and there have been very few protests or none at all. Jews in the international community are under attack for the actions of Israel, but it seems no Muslims, Arabs, or Africans have been targeted because of the murderous actions of the terrorists who share their religion or ethnicity. Muslims are killing far more Christians, Jews, and other Muslims across the globe, but for some reason much of the world remains committed to demonizing Israel instead.
But to those of you who aren’t anti-Semitic–those of you who simply feel angry or disappointed when you hear about Gaza on TV–I ask you this: What would you have Israel do? If it does nothing, the missiles will keep coming until it’s wiped off the map. If it tries to negotiate, as it’s done before, it’ll only be a matter of time before the Palestinian radicals renew their campaign, because they don’t want peace–they only want destruction. So what else is there to do other than to keep on fighting?
Ask yourself what you’d believe if circumstances were different and the U.S. found itself under attack by an army that despised Americans as much as the Palestinians despise Israel. Would we not fight back against an enemy dedicated to destroying us? Would we value their lives over our own? Would we think it just if the United Nations launched an investigation of war crimes against us when we accidentally hit the human shields our enemy hid behind?
Israel deserves to be held to the same standard that we, as Americans, would hold ourselves to. And just as we’d do anything to defend our country, Israel indisputably has the right to do the same.