In a recent correspondence from Israel, CJN columnist Rabbi Dow Marmur, rabbi emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, piquantly noted that “Hamas never seems to lose a battle against Israel, irrespective of the outcome.”
He was referring to the fact that media coverage of Palestinian life in Gaza essentially confirms, reconfirms, emphasizes and re-emphasizes an entrenched negative image of Israel in the hearts and minds of most of the people in the world.
He made his observations in relation to a failed effort by Hamas early last week to orchestrate a march by masses of Palestinians against Gaza’s border with Israel.
“It would have been a coup if Palestinians from Gaza had managed to breach the fence with Israel and invade in large numbers, as they did on the Egyptian border last month,” Rabbi Marmur noted. “But even though they didn’t [breach the fence], the fact that the media could photograph schoolchildren (commandeered from schools, of course) demonstrating, made it all worthwhile.”
In the contest for the sympathy of the world, Rabbi Marmur astutely points out what many others have often painfully noted. “Hamas invariably wins hands down, because the world likes the kind of victim it presents itself as, while shunning the Israeli ‘bullies.’ Old anti-Semitism, no longer in vogue, can now be recycled as passionate care for the Palestinian underdog.”
Palestinians-as-victims and Israelis-as-bullies was the razor sharp image projected across all manner of media airwaves and through and into electronic switches in countless millions of computers around the world.
Israel is at war with Hamas. The reason for that, which many commentators and of course critics of Israel always ignore, is that Hamas wants to destroy the Jewish state.
“Destroy the Jewish state” is not merely a slogan, a catchword, a rallying cry or an organizing principle for Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza or exiled leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus, the self-appointed leaders of Hamas. It is the holy of their holies. It is the pre-eminent ambition they have. Building a Palestinian state is secondary to destroying the Jewish one. Indeed, the Palestinian state that Hamas purports to want to build, will be built, according to their national plan, upon the ashes of the Jewish one.
Abu Obeida, the spokesperson for the military wing of Hamas makes this very explicit: “The Zionist settlement of Sderot, which perches on our occupied land north-east of the Gaza Strip, will continue to constitute a legitimate target for the holy warriors of the Izzadin el-Qassam Brigades.”
But ashes of Jews will never again be the billowy foundation for the structure of other people’s ambitions.
As of this writing, some 100 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF since last mid-week in fierce fighting with Hamas in an effort to protect the lives of Israeli citizens. It is horrible, it is terrible that civilians – women and children – are among the Palestinian dead. But the responsibility for their deaths lies squarely with Hamas.
Two IDF soldiers, 20-year-old Doron Asulin from Be’er Sheva and 20-year-old Eran Dan-Gur from Jerusalem were killed in the fighting. Forty-seven-year-old Ron Yichyeh was killed by a Qassam rocket the week before.
The IDF incursion into northern Gaza was aimed at trying to bring an end to the daily barrage of rockets into Israel.
Hamas decided to aim its death at “legitimate targets” farther into Israel than the Jewish communities adjacent to Gaza. On Sunday alone, some 40 rockets were fired against Israel, including two Grad-type missiles, which struck the city of Ashkelon.
The European Union on the weekend joined the United Nations in condemning what it referred to as “disproportionate” use of force by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza, after more than 60 Palestinians were killed last Saturday in fighting.
Earlier in the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned what he called Israel’s “excessive and disproportionate” response to Palestinian rocket fire.
To be sure, the European Union and the secretary general also denounced the ongoing rocket attacks against Israel. But the thrust of their comments were levelled against Israel because, in the gruesome calculus of dead bodies, Israel’s count was far less than that of the Palestinians.
But the call for proportionate use of force is meaningless, absurd and unfair against an enemy such as Hamas. Israel is correct to do all within its power to prevent the rocket fire, to save and protect the lives of its citizens. Israel should not apologize for acting against terrorists, for wanting to live.
The tragedy for Israelis and for the innocent Palestinians is that the IDF can win only temporary respites from the murderous rocket barrages against Israelis. In truth, only Palestinians can stop and prevent the bloodshed. Herein lies the other, more devastating tragedy: there seem to be no Palestinians capable of doing this or even wanting to do it. For, as Rabbi Marmur sadly points out, even when they lose, they win.