Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Praise of Israel

In Praise of Israel

Israel is actually one of the finest nations on earth, despite the ignorant, poisonous attacks that appear in the letters pages of this newspaper.
Israel repeatedly has shown restraint against its enemies. Remember the scud missiles that Iraq launched day after day into Israel? Israel did nothing in retaliation. And for seven years, from 2001 to 2008, some 8,165 rockets and mortars from Gaza terrorists landed in civilian areas of southern Israel, killing 15 people and seriously injuring 275.
In Sderot, the terrorists’ targets included kindergartens, hospitals, schools, day-care centers, playgrounds, and homes.
On Sept. 3, 2007, Hamas terrorists launched a barrage of rockets timed to hit just when parents were taking their children to school and day-care centers for the fall term. It was, said the terrorists, a “gift” for the first day of school.
In Sderot, 94% of the children are reported to suffer from post-traumatic stress, along with nightmares, bed-wetting, and severe anxiety.
Nat Dreyfus of Olivebridge writes that the rockets were merely “fireworks.” What a contemptible comment.
Was the Israeli attack on Gaza disproportionate? Hamas had its infrastructure deliberately embedded in civilian hospitals, schools, and apartment houses. And Israelis even phoned the apartment houses sheltering terrorists, urging the civilians to leave. Hamas cold-bloodedly urged them to return – to make anti-Israel propaganda from civilian casualties.
Even so, Israel reported that 80% to 85% of the dead were combatants.
And Israel even made special efforts to help the wounded.
A “proportionate” military response was one that would persuade Hamas to stop sending rockets into Israel. The barrage has virtually stopped; so Israel clearly made a proportionate response.
Israel, by the way, gets a 2 from Freedom House, which monitors freedom in countries around the world – the range is from 1 (best) to 7 (worst). The U.S. and the United Kingdom get 1s. Libya, Sudan, and Syria get 7s. Iran and Saudi Arabia get 6s. Considered were (1) free speech and assembly, (2) fair and open trials, and (3) protection of religious freedoms.
As for political rights (free and fair elections, opposition parties being legal, minority participation), Israel gets a 1. Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria get 7s.
Suzane Dunham of Woodstock, in a letter, objects that the number of dead, displaced, and homeless are mainly on the Palestinian side. The truth is that the Israelis are good at protecting their citizens – despite the rockets. Sderot built lots of bomb shelters and installed lots of air-raid sirens. And does she remember the terrorist bombings in Israel? It was mostly Israelis murdered on buses and in pizza parlors.
She praises me for acknowledging that Hamas was elected democratically. But Hamas remains a terrorist organization, devoted to “obliterating” Israel. It isn’t recognized by the U.S. or the European Union. In any case, Adolf Hitler was elected democratically. So was Sen. Joseph McCarthy and Gov. Theodore Bilbo. As the novelist E.M. Foster put it, two cheers for democracy.
Suzane Dunham also claims that Hamas has the right to “defend its citizens.” By launching rockets into Israel for seven straight years? Wasn’t that putting them in harm’s way?
She also argues that what we need in the Mideast is an agreement on policy. No, what we need is for Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel. When Egypt accepted Israel, Israel surrendered the entire Sinai peninsula. If Hamas seriously and sincerely accepted Israel’s existence, all sorts of accommodations would follow. Even the settlements issue could be worked out.
I think that Suzane Dunham is simply misinformed. But Nat Dreyfus is a true anti-Semite. To him, Israel is always in the wrong.
Dreyfus even brings up Hagana and the Stern gang from the 1940s! That justifies Arab terrorist attacks today?
He hints that Israel covets Gaza because of its natural gas reserves. I think that here we’re entering the realm of pure paranoia. Doesn’t he know that Israel voluntarily gave up Gaza in 2005? And even left its greenhouses intact – greenhouses that the Arabs stupidly proceeded to destroy, greenhouses that would have brought them prosperity instead of the poverty that their Hamas leaders exploit as propaganda.
Dreyfus suggests that I move to Israel. I suggest that he move to Iran. He and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad deserve each other.
Dreyfus might respond, triumphantly, that he’s Jewish. Proving, of course, that one can be Jewish and an anti-Semite.
After reading his letter, I felt that I needed a hot warm shower, to wash off the grime.
My theory is that confirmed anti-Semites are life’s losers, imprisoned in miserable marriages, stuck in joyless jobs, selling shoes in shoestores and waitressing in fast-food restaurants, with children who are bitter disappointments. Their profoundly unhappy lives lead them to look for outlets for their frustration and anger, and Jews — and Israel — are their usual targets.
But most Americans still support Israel. That says a lot about the basic decency and intelligence of most Americans.

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