November 21, 2012
Sometimes, it's just not that
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
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
Dan Elbaum is the Chicago-based
assistant executive director and director of the regional offices of the
American Jewish Committee.