The Disproportionate Dislike of Israel

The Disproportionate Dislike of Israel


That seems to be the word of the moment for numerous journalists, bloggers and scores of forum board writers who can’t get enough merely bashing the state of Israel for its military actions against Hamas. Repeated endlessly in print and on television broadcasts, and accompanied with the requisite images of wounded or dead children, the word has become a cipher for the standard media approach to Israel: evil, racist and warmongering.

But I have one question: what exactly is the definition of Israel’s response to constant rocket attacks that would make it proportionate? More to the point, is there anything that Israel can do that won’t be automatically pegged as “disproportionate”?

I suspect that what is truly disproportionate is the level of fear that Westerners have of Arabs in general, and Muslims in particular. No one in Europe or America is afraid of the Israelis; if anything, contempt and scorn for the Jewish state is a requisite for leftist intellectuals (their “street cred,” as it were). But for Arab Muslims, that is a far different story, not the least of which because there more of them living in Europe and the U.S. than there are Jews. In Western Europe’s largest country, France, the number of Jews is dwarfed by the number of Muslims (who are not all Arabs, but you get the point.)

Because of this fear, and the ongoing issues that countries like France, Great Britain and Germany are having in dealing with growing Muslim populations, it makes far more sense to criticize Israel as the aggressor and quickly call for restraint, truces and cease-fires, mainly on the part of the Israelis. One cannot be perceived to be soft on the Israelis because then you have the problem of unrest in your own country from dissatisfied Muslims.

When Israel strikes at its enemies, the world is quick to condemn it, virtually leaving groups like Hamas and Hizbullah unscathed, or worse, as the principal victims. For a group that likes to pride itself on finding nuance in everything, the Left quickly resorts to branding Israel as the guy in black and her enemies as the ones in white. Of course, most of these condemnations are made in the name of the “Palestinian people,” a nebulous phrase with as much deep meaning as the “American people” or “in the name of the Senate and the People of Rome.” A convenient abstraction.

Ironically, the Left holds up the “Palestinian people” as a shield for their own biases against Israel, in much the same way Hizbullah or Hamas have no problems blurring military and civilian targets in areas under their control. This complicates the issue for the Israelis who can’t merely strike at the Hamas infrastructure without civilians winding up in the morgue. It’s an ugly calculus that has proved unavoidable in the last several years, whether it’s southern Lebanon or the Gaza Strip, but one that the Left overlooks in the rush to damn Israel for daring to defend itself, hence the use of he word “disproportionate.”

To take up the theme of nuance even more, it is astonishing how leftists either have no true conception of the complexities of the Middle East, or merely jettison them to brand Israel as the villain. For example, endless commentators on feedback boards like to state “umm, wasn’t Hamas democratically elected?” as though this should be the end of the matter. Hamas is not some benign organization; they have repeatedly called for the destruction of the Jewish state as the first step to creating an Islamic one in its stead. The Left, it seems, takes this as a mere verbal sideshow: surely they don’t really think they do that, it’s only posturing so if you take then seriously, then you are a fool.

But this rather quaint outlook flies right in the face of the nuances of how the Middle East truly operates. When figures like David Duke (in America) or Jean-Marie Le Pen (France) get anywhere near the ballot box (much less winning a sizeable vote as in the case of the latter), there is a great deal of handwringing and vows to prevent them from achieving elected office because of what they represent. Well, in the Middle East, Hamas or Hizbullah do not merely represent something: they act. So when Hamas calls for Israel’s end, it’s something to be taken seriously, not brushed off as florid rhetoric.

(On the issue of rhetoric, allow me to pose some of my own: in California, Proposition 8 banning gay marriage passed by a majority of votes in the last election. I have read of scores of gay rights activists vowing to fight it, but I ask, why not just accept it? After all, the vote was democratic and fair.)

Now, let’s couple stated actions with arms: Hamas doesn’t only saber rattle, it actually fires rockets. Here again, the Left fails to comprehend the true significance of these actions, either preferring to overlook them or diminish their importance. Witness the despicable talking point describing how Hamas rockets have “only” killed a few people, while Israeli strikes have killed more, as if Israeli deaths are somehow understandable or not that important. Moreover, it remains difficult to comprehend why anyone believes that firing missiles from the Gaza Strip is the same as shooting bottle-rockets. Of course, the Left—lacking any particular moral stand that applies evenly in this conflict—finds fault with Israel and its “policies,” that blanket charge that never fails to satisfy and leaves the idea of armed conflict up for grabs, which is exactly what Hamas depends on to justify its actions.

Never does the Left seriously question the tactics of Hamas or Hizbullah, but they are quick to condemn Israel’s responses. Never does the Left offer up a definition of what Israel’s extent of self-defense should encompass. Never does the Left beam its morality laser on Hamas and question if rocket launches are in tandem with state-building and improving the present and future of Palestinians. Instead, pious condemnation of Israel’s every move, and a total lack of understanding that groups like Hamas or Hizbullah are not fringe political parties but movements with power and arms and a grim determination to end the Jewish state through attrition.

Lest anyone leap the conclusion that I am supportive of widespread destruction and death and believe Israel can do no wrong, let me assure that you I am not. I am merely pointing out the flaw that runs deep within the Left’s thinking about Israel, and the automatic and defeatist approach to dealing with the conflict. For reasons that continue to elude me, the Left seems either enamored of radical Islam or dismisses it as some aberration by a “few bad apples.” Spain and Great Britain may be willing to put up with terrorist attacks in train stations and buses as an anomaly, but Israel cannot afford to. It exists in a region of the world where radical Islam is not confined to the writings or sermons of some sheik, but as a reality. I realize that the phrase “existential threat” induces eye-rolling among the Left, but again, leftists miss the nuances and deeper meaning of what Hamas represents. Whether this is truly accidental or deliberate, it certainly is disproportionate.