Often I read “pro-Israel” articles, usually by American Jews, which include a statement like this: “Of course I disagree with many of Israel’s policies, but…” Or, “Of course, Israel treats the Palestinians badly, but…” Or, “Of course the occupation is immoral, but…”
I appreciate the “but,” and usually the article goes on to explain that the state really does have a right to exist, that Israel really isn’t guilty of genocide, or that people should be nicer to Jewish college students, who aren’t responsible for Israel’s policies.
But the apologetic prelude, an attempt to establish bona fides among an audience already marinated in anti-Israel propaganda, is cowardly and wrong.
Israel is doing the best she can, and much better than most Western democracies in the moral behavior department (I won’t even dream of comparing her to the various murderous dictatorships in the region).
Yes, a few Arabs have gotten shot to death while trying to do a World War Z number (video, 4:27) on our southern border fence. We should have invited them into our homes? If someone were climbing your back fence with a knife in his teeth, what would you do?
We tried, over and over, to give them a state. It was stupid, and we’re lucky they wouldn’t take it. Now they are refusing to talk. Good. They’ve demonstrated in Gaza what happens when we give up control of territory. So, what, exactly, are we doing wrong when we don’t unilaterally leave the high ground near our center of population?
Yes, there are checkpoints that Arabs from the territories have to pass through to get into Israel. Several times a week, someone is stopped with a knife or worse. Often, terrorists sneak into Israel around the unfinished (why is that?) security barrier, and murder people. The checkpoints are a real pain in the ass for Arabs that work in Israel. How racist we must be to have them!
Yes, we arrest “children” (some as old as 17) for throwing rocks and firebombs at cars containing Jews. Sometimes the Jews in the cars are killed or maimed. How cruel we are, to children! And before you say it, it’s true that sometimes (much more rarely) Jewish kids throw rocks at Arabs. We arrest them too.
Arab terrorists stab Jews on the street or try to hit them with their cars. They incite their kids to murder.
The Gazans are setting fire to the southern part of our country with their balloons and kites, like last year, as soon as the weather has started to dry out. They threaten to tear down the border and “rip out the hearts” (video, 0:51) of the Jews who live nearby. A rocket from the Gaza Strip destroyed a house in central Israel the other day, and injured several people – only the fact that we require a reinforced concrete “safe room” in all new construction prevented a worse tragedy. We shoot down their rockets in the area around Gaza with the Iron Dome system, whose every launch costs us tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes we don’t succeed, and the residents have 15 seconds or less to scramble into their safe rooms.
But there is so much to criticize in our “treatment of the Palestinians!” For example, we block the import of metal pipes (used to make rockets) and cement (to line tunnels under the border) to Gaza. After the most recent outbreak of rockets, incendiary devices, riots next to the border fence, and explosives thrown at our soldiers, we have promised to make life easier for Gazans by increasing the number of trucks carrying food, medicines and other goods into the Strip, increasing the amount of electricity we give it (what other country supplies her enemies?), and more. In return, they just have to stop trying to kill us.
This is apparently not good enough for our critics, who think there should be no blockade at all. Let the Gazans have all the pipes and cement they want. The critics should try living in Sderot or one of the smaller communities near Gaza.
Even historically, Israel looks pretty good. Yes, there was the nakba, in which between 500-700 thousand Arabs fled the 1948 War of Independence. A small number, particularly in villages that were hostile and fought alongside the troops from the Arab countries that had invaded our country, were actually kicked out. And after the war, we didn’t let them come back (had we done so, we would not have had a state). We still ended up with some 150,000 Arabs in our country, who ultimately got the right to vote. The Arabs who left for whatever reason were kept in camps by the Arab states, and they and their descendants made into perpetual refugees living under conditions of apartheid, by the Arab states and the cowardly UN. But as expiation for our guilt, we are expected – by the Palestinians and BDS supporters worldwide – to invite all 5 million of them to live in our country, thus ending it.
Should I mention that the Jordanians kicked out or killed every single Jew in the area that they conquered in 1948? That they broke the cease-fire agreement that called for all religious groups to be allowed to visit their holy sites? That some 800,000 Jews were forced to leave Arab countries, and most were absorbed by Israel? Now that’s ethnic cleansing. Let’s also not forget the genocidal threats made by Arab leaders in 1967.
I could go on, and on, and on. Israel has never committed genocide like the US or Germany, or mass murder like Russia. It has never nuked anyone, like the US. The number of Arabs living between the river and the sea has tripled since 1970. We have never had slavery. Our ratio of civilian to military deaths in urban warfare is the lowest in recent history. We use the “knock on the roof” technique and cellphone calls to warn civilians that a building will be bombed. We send soldiers in when artillery or air strikes would be safer for us. We do not engage in wars of conquest; indeed, we tend to (stupidly) give territory back to our defeated enemies.
Israel is a democracy, it is increasingly tolerant of alternative lifestyles, and increasingly intolerant of mistreatment of women. It does not persecute religious minorities. It has a relatively free press and permits free speech.
And yet, even our defenders find it necessary to insert a disclaimer.
Why? The Jewish people should be proud of its homeland, which has survived – and is surviving – repeated assaults from her neighbors, as well as viciously bigoted treatment from many other nations and institutions – while still doing a good job of maintaining freedom and protecting her citizens.
No, she isn’t perfect. No nation is. But don’t apologize; it’s not necessary, and anyway nothing short of national suicide will satisfy her critics.