It's Complicated

Chicago Tribune
Dan Elbaum
November 21, 2012

Sometimes, it's just not that complicated.

Close your eyes. Imagine 800 rockets falling on your country over the last year. Imagine more than 200 in just the past few days. Imagine your children's school closed not because of labor disputes or snow, but because they need to stay underground in bomb shelters.

Would you expect your government to do something? Would you expect the world to speak out on your behalf?

Open your eyes.

Of course, that isn't happening here. It's happening in Israel and as the rockets leave Gaza and Israeli parents try to grab their children in 15 seconds to take them to shelter, much of the world had either stood silent or issued statements with no distinction between the terrorists and those trying to defend themselves.

But, some say, it isn't just happening in any country. The rocket fire might be unfortunate, but those firing the rockets into Israel are responding to an oppressive occupation.

But facts are stubborn things. Israel left Gaza in 2005. This was not an easy thing to do. Families were uprooted and coffins literally dug up and reburied.

Yet they did it. They did it to try to bring peace. And what did they get? Within two years, Gaza was ruled by Hamas, a terrorist organization, which has long pledged to eliminate the Jewish state. For years, civilians in southern Israel have endured a steady barrage of rockets.

Finally, Israel reasserted its deterrence capacity by carrying out a pinpoint airstrike that killed Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari, and followed that up by pounding Hamas military targets in Gaza, several of them in the act of preparing to fire on Israel. Hamas responded with hundreds more rockets aimed at Israeli population centers well into the interior of the country, killing at least three civilians, wounding dozens others, and destroying homes and property.

So the U.N. Security Council assembled. Again, this is not complicated. Eight hundred rockets in a year. A strategic pinpoint airstrike killing a known terrorist with the blood of innocent men, women and children on his hands.

But, oh yes, this is Israel and the usual rules don't apply. There was no condemnation from the Security Council. No expression of solidarity for the children sitting in bomb shelters.

We should not forget those who stood up. President Barack Obama announced his support for "Israel's self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians." Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and British Foreign Secretary William Hague have been similarly supportive.

And we should not forget the other voices. The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has demanded that the international community punish Israel for its response to the escalation in Hamas rocket attacks. The largest voting bloc of the U.N., the 120-member nations of the Non-Aligned Movement, refused to even acknowledge the Hamas rocket fire, condemning Israel's actions to defend itself as "aggression" against "defenseless people." Of course, that august body is chaired by that beacon of human rights, Iran.

Mohammed Morsi, the president of Egypt agrees and has recalled his country's ambassador to Israel. Ominously, Morsi's party, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, has revealed that it is crafting a new law that would amend Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel. And the Turkish prime minister labeled Israel's actions to be "terrorism" and an "attempt at ethnic cleansing."

And from the rest of the world what have we heard? A combination of silence, moral equivalence and complete willful disregard of what any one of them would do if placed in the exact same situation. Maybe this is actually complicated. After all, we are talking about Israel.

Dan Elbaum is the Chicago-based assistant executive director and director of the regional offices of AJC.

Date: 11/21/2012 12:00:00 AM