How Israel’s enemies employ violence, hatred, and partial truths to deny Israel basic rights.
** Hamas Charter **
Israeli Defense Forces Code of Ethics
Some Implications of Modern Communication and Information Transference
When engaging in tenuous discourse, establishing context is the surest way of uncovering the truth. Without context, the world can be inverted: defensive and belligerent actions are confused, and what is in reality indefensible can be vindicated.
We are blessed to live in an age in which information is plentiful and accessible. We also live in an age in which people can voice their perspectives and promulgate them easily through social media. We are witnessing people exercising their right to free expression at an unprecedented level. Thus, the sheer volume of information and perspectives we are bombarded with can challenge our own perspectives and help us develop more nuanced and thoughtful outlooks on issues that affect us and others. On the other side of the coin, this unparalleled influx of expressed thought can muddy the waters, making clarity about how to form an outlook challenging.
In our world of rapid communication and information transfer, anyone can present fallacious statements and snapshots of a given event that confirm a preconceived claim. When we take fragments of truth for the whole truth, we are prone to mistaking fallacy for verity, and we are inclined to subscribe to spurious claims. It might seem exceedingly difficult to enter into and successfully navigate the seemingly limitless pool of information, emerging from the surface with an accurate factually based perspective. However, when we are selective about what we choose to digest and process, when we limit ourselves to absorbing sound information, and dedicate ourselves to investigating issues before drawing conclusions from the opinions of others, the daunting task of acquiring insight is no less arduous, but more likely to yield a clearer picture.
Israel’s Struggle against Hatred
I would like to address the paradox of the information age – the possibility for greater distortion and greater clarity – in the context of the recent escalation in the struggle between the terrorist organization Hamas and Israel, which began earlier in July. What I would like to do is present claims, back them up with evidence, and then call upon you to do your own research to challenge or verify my claims. I believe that if we replicate this format of dialogue, we can make claims that are not simply pulled out of thin air, and we optimize the advantage that freedom of expression, constant interconnectedness, and copious information flow offers us — we can attain clarity and skirt distortions.
My claims are as follows: First, the terrorist organization Hamas, as expressed in its charter and conduct, directly opposes peace, and represents the complete inverse of what is Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian. Second, if we truly want to make progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and for that matter, if we want to re-stabilize the Middle East as a whole, the egregiously negative influence and activity of hateful and violent groups like Hamas must be quashed. Third, the denial of the state of Israel’s right to self-defense cannot be rationalized without denying Israel the right to exist. Fourth, the failure for Israel to make a concerted effort to protect its people would be a portentous human rights violation; thus, the nation of Israel is justified in and obligated to defending its people with military force against belligerents if deemed necessary. Finally, the suggestion that there is a moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel is reprehensible and monumentally farcical. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) does at least as much if not more than any other country to avoid civilian casualties during military operations, and as a policy, only targets terrorists and their mechanisms of death.
Now, let us explore the basis for these claims from a factual and historical outlook. In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally with no questions asked as a gesture of good will, and as an opportunity to allow Palestinians in Gaza to function peacefully without direct Israeli oversight (see report from Haaretz, an Israeli leftwing newspaper). Aide still flowed into Gaza from Israel and international humanitarian organizations after the execution of this plan. One of the first reactions to the relinquishment of control to Gaza was the destruction of the numerous greenhouses and other establishments of the Jewish communities that were removed, and erasing every vestige of the people who once lived there (see NBC report).
Unfortunately, recent history has shown that this act was a harbinger of what was to come. An atmosphere of resentment and hate against Israel festered in the hearts of many in Gaza, and this hatred trumped everything else, including embracing the gesture of their neighbor Israel by capitalizing on the opportunity to transform Gaza into a prosperous region. The terrorist organization Hamas rose to power in 2007, showing its commitment to fulfilling its mission of destroying Israel (see Hamas Charter) through regular rocket attacks. Missile barrages from Gaza have been indiscriminately fired at Israeli population centers consistently over the past decade.
Most notably in 2006, 2008-09, 2012, and now 2014, concentrated indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza were fired at Israeli population centers, with each subsequent attack utilizing increasingly sophisticated missiles. During these episodes, Israel launched defensive operations to try to attenuate the threats to their people; Operation Cast Lead in 2008, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014- present (see IDF operations). As clearly described, in accordance with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Code of Ethics, the intent of these operations has been to target terrorists who threaten Israel’s security, while limiting civilian casualties. IDF operations have been conducted to halt rocket fire and terrorist threats to Israel. The IDF is “subordinate to the directions of the democratic civilian authorities,” and the Israeli people, who comprise the IDF and determine the objectives of their security force through a democratic system of government, demand that Israeli security operations are conducted in a humane way.
Each time the IDF has been ordered to take out Hamas targets that attack Israel and threaten its security, those who call themselves anti-Zionists and pro-Palestinian capitalize on the opportunity to vilify Israel, lashing such wicked accusations at Israel such as that Israel is an “apartheid state,” which does a great injustice to what occurred in South Africa, and that Israel is on par with “Nazi Germany,” which is the single most despicable label imaginable, especially when attached to the Jewish state. Detractors use all manner of vile and baseless epithets and fallacious argument to demonize Israel. Many of these hateful sentiments manifest in violent ways, and reveal a masked overt anti-Semitic bias; notably, anti-Semitic acts increase globally every time Israel takes defensive action (see ADL report).
Constantly, the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and variations of it, seek to unilaterally blame Israel for conflict, and punish Israel economically. The BDS movement is not popular among Palestinians, and only serves to further alienate and threaten Israel and damage both the Israeli and Palestinian economies (unknown facts about BDS). Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are never far below the surface (see BDS effort to picket Israeli ships with an anti-Zionist message in the Bay Area).
I will now present some platitudes that are, distressingly, necessary to invoke to repel Israel’s detractors. No country has a right to allow its civilian population to be attacked and terrorized. No country can allow indiscriminate rocket fire to rain down on its population centers. If a country was complacent at times when the lives of its citizens were threatened, that country would be committing an incredible human rights violation. The chief role of a nation is to protect its citizens; thus, Israel, yes a sovereign nation, yes a nation with a Jewish majority, cannot allow the threat from Hamas, a terrorist group that pursues the destruction of Israel and promulgates anti-Semitism, to disrupt and threaten the lives of so many. Israel does not have the right to be complacent and let those who wish its inhabitants harm and oppose its very existence commit atrocities.
Israel cannot allow Hamas to have its way. Hamas uses concessions for peace given to the Palestinians — the unilateral disengagement of 2005 and the monetary and infrastructural aid — to construct a network of terror tunnels created for the purpose of smuggling weapons and infiltrating Israel to commit mass murders and kidnappings. Hamas stockpiles hidden caches of weapons in buildings in which Palestinian civilians reside (video of Hamas terror tunnel). Horrifically, an investigation into the construction of the tunnel networks revealed that the network was constructed using Palestinian children, and 160 youth died as a result. The resources and time that were to be dedicated to building Gaza into a prosperous independent community were utilized to wage terror against Israel, to construct terrorist infrastructure, and to effectively bring misery to all. We must call this what it is: deplorable. Hamas does not value human life. Hamas prioritizes the destruction of Israel above all else.
Putting the heinous acts and abhorrent objectives of Hamas against Israel aside, I am not as appalled by how Hamas directs hatred at Israel as by what Hamas does to the Palestinians. Hamas reigns Gaza through terror; those who don’t comply with their demands are punished mercilessly. Hamas employs human shields to defend its weapons and personnel. Hamas operatives hide themselves and their weapons behind civilians to maximize casualties and/or protect themselves. Hamas stashes weapons in hospitals, schools, mosques, and relief stations for the protection of these tools of destruction. When Israel warns of an incoming attack, Hamas is known to coerce people into staying near or on targets to die as martyrs for the cause of vilifying Israel or for the cause of saving the targets from destruction. This demonstrates that *Hamas knows that Israel will call off attacks if they know civilian lives are in danger, *and they exploit Israel’s humanity accordingly (see Hamas Combat Manuel on the benefits of using human shields).
Hamas denies the Palestinians humane treatment, and devotes its full energies and resources to attacking Israel rather than supporting Palestinians. Hamas uses children to build its terrorist infrastructure. Hamas has violated numerous humanitarian ceasefires intended to assist the Palestinian people, continuing its relentless attack against Israel. The facts have been twisted, ignored and intentionally omitted in the discussion about Israel and the Palestinians… yet again (WSJ opinion).
Recognize Hatred and Distortion; Pursue Reason and Clarity
In the age of mass information, hatred wears many masks. It is up to digesters of information to be vigilant and to use the advantages of the 21st century to propagate truths. Now that we have some context, I urge you to have another look at the claims that I made earlier. They are not so bold, and not so outlandish. I am simply affirming the right of a nation to act in self-defense. I am not asserting that Israel is immune from criticism and that it can do no wrong. What I am stating is that Israel has an obligation to act in the way it has for the sake of self-defense, for the sake of preserving life, against very dark forces that explicitly rain death and destruction upon it. What I am saying is that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism cannot be justified, and must be recognized when hidden under the thin veil of false accusations, of baseless and erroneous assertions that many of us have heard — that Israel deliberately commits egregious war crimes; that Israel conducts genocide against Palestinians; that Israel exacts collective punishment against Palestinians; etc. I urge you to rely on rationale, moral sense, and intellect instead of visceral reaction when forming your perspectives on issues like the Israel-Hamas struggle.