Why do supposedly “pro-Israel” voices so often add a disclaimer to their remarks, as if they are embarrassed to say anything wholeheartedly good about us?
In an article that is devastating to Ben and Jerry’s and other boycotters, Alan Dershowitz nevertheless finds it necessary to mention that he sometimes “disagrees with Israeli policies,” and that he “fervently hope[s] that the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership will return to the negotiating table,” implying that it is even partially Israel’s fault that the conflict continues.
What policy exactly does he disagree with? Israel has been at war since May 15, 1948, and the Jews in Eretz Yisrael were besieged long before that date. The war blows hot and cold, but it has never ended. Today Israel is under attack from Iranian proxies in the north and south, and is fighting an increasingly bloody guerrilla war against terrorists associated with Hamas and the PLO in Judea and Samaria. On Friday, nineteen Katyusha rockets were fired into Israel by Hezbollah. The fact that they were all either intercepted by Iron Dome or fell in uninhabited areas doesn’t change the fact that they were intended to kill. Hamas, unchastened by the blows it absorbed in the recent mini-war, continues to send explosive and incendiary balloons into southern Israel to ignite fields and forests.
So-called “demonstrations” in Judea and Samaria involve hundreds of Palestinian Arab guerrillas with improvised but often deadly weapons like Molotov cocktails and slings that can (conservatively) propel rocks at more than 60 m/s, or 216 km/h (134 mph). Guerrillas in urban areas often drop concrete blocks from the roofs of buildings, which can and have killed helmeted soldiers.
So yes, sometimes some of these guerrillas get themselves killed. The next time you read that the IDF has “murdered an innocent Palestinian child,” consider the possibility that the child is 16 or 17 years old and has just thrown a firebomb intended to burn someone to death. And yes, sometimes, in the middle of the war zone, accidents happen and someone truly innocent is killed. The Palestinian leadership is fully aware of this possibility, and every such incident is exploited to the hilt. It is part of the process, perhaps the most important part.
One of the most famous examples of “Israeli brutality” was the “Great March of Return” protest at the Gaza border fence, in which some 180-220 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured during 42 weeks of “protests” during 2018-2019. On May 14, 2018, some 62 were said to be killed. Horrible? The shootings were in response to attempted human wave attacks to breach the fence and swarm the nearby Jewish communities. Does anyone doubt the carnage that would have taken place had they succeeded in getting through? Various non-fatal methods of deterrence were used, but at the point that a potential murderer crosses the fence, there is no other practical way to stop him short of live fire.
Meanwhile there is the continuous and unreported terrorism on the roads, especially in Judea and Samaria, but also within the pre-1967 borders, in which terrorists throw and drop rocks and firebombs on Jewish cars, and even ambush and shoot at them. There are car-ramming attacks in which Arab drivers plow into groups of Jews waiting at bus stops, with the driver sometimes getting out and stabbing anyone that survived the crash. As I said, it blows hot and cold, but never, ever stops.
We are at war, we have always been at war, and our enemies have no interest in peace (at least, not if that peace leaves any remnant of Jewish sovereignty between the river and the sea). When Palestinians say they favor a “two-state solution,” they mean one that includes the “return” of millions of “refugees” to Israel, creating not one but two Arab states between the river and the sea. This is why all the offers of land that Israel has made have been rejected by the Palestinians and why nobody is “sitting down at the negotiating table” as Dershowitz “fervently hopes” will happen.
So there is actually very little to be “critical” of, except perhaps that our leadership is too timid to take the harsh measures that are necessary in order to ensure our survival. Israel faces military threats from outside, and terrorist threats from her own Arab population – on both sides of the Green Line, as the recent “disturbances” in our mixed population cities, which at another time and place might have been called pogroms, have shown. These threats are as serious as ever. Although our military strength has grown over the years, our enemies have become both stronger and more sophisticated. And our strategic depth is a lot less now than after the 1967 war.
In addition to the direct physical threats, there is also the unprecedented, massive assault on our legitimacy that is taking place via all kinds of media, especially including social media. The idea that we don’t belong here (or anywhere, actually) is embraced by a surprising diversity of people and institutions throughout the world. Whereas in 1948 we were opposed primarily by the Arab states, today there are misozionist movements throughout the world, including the most developed countries, such as the US, the UK, and the members of the EU. Our friends are fewer than ever, and some of the friends are less steadfast than previously.
And this is the problem. Even our friends believe, in their hearts, that we shouldn’t be here, not in Ariel, not in Jerusalem, and not in Tel Aviv (well, maybe they’ll give us Tel Aviv). They believe in their hearts, even though they love us, that we brutalize Palestinians for no good reason. They believe in their hearts, that we kill too many civilians when we retaliate against rocket attacks from Gaza. None of this is true, but the various media have done such a good job that the Palestinian narrative, both about current events and about the history of the region, has insinuated itself everywhere. It has become part of what “everyone knows.”
Don’t add to it. If you want to say something nice about Israel, please say it without the disclaimer. It’s not so complicated: Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, continues to fight for her life against difficult odds, as she has for 73 years, and needs all the support she can get.