Monday, September 22, 2014 Elul 27, 5774

A False Equivalency

July 16, 2014
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If it wasn’t clear to the world before, it should be now: Hamas has no interest in peace with Israel — or protecting its own citizens.
 
Hamas must think it has a good thing going, which is perhaps why it rejected a cease-fire that Israel agreed to earlier this week.  It is getting more media exposure than it has in years. But for anyone listening closely, it should be abundantly clear that its spokesmen are spewing forth lies in the war for public opinion. 
 
The situation in Gaza is tragic indeed — sad for the civilians who are getting killed, sad for the living conditions the population continues to endure and sad for the unfulfilled potential this slice of land had. When Israel took the painful step to uproot its citizens from Gaza in 2005 and the Palestinians took control of the land, the international community was ready to help invest in its future.
 
But instead of investing in that future, Hamas seized control of Gaza and clung to the past, persisting in militant opposition to the very existence of Israel. It dug tunnels to smuggle weapons rather than build bridges to economic opportunity. Now Hamas is again claiming victimhood, as if Israel one day woke up and decided to launch an assault for no good reason. Sadly, too much of the world — including many international media outlets — are buying it. Israel once again is being tarred as the aggressor, with critics pointing to the disparity in casualties as the primary evidence. 
 
But the Israeli death toll is low not because Hamas isn’t trying hard enough but because the Iron Dome missile defense system is doing its job exceedingly well. Moreover, the ratio would be even more lopsided if Israel were trying to kill Palestinian civilians. By nearly all accounts, it is taking pains to avoid civilian deaths, even documenting missions that were aborted because the civilian toll would be too high. Hamas, meanwhile, is using its citizens as human shields. Rather than taking measures to protect them, they are using hospitals, mosques and homes as storehouses for weapons and launching pads.  
 
As JTA put it: While Hamas measures its success by how many Israelis it is able to kill, Israel measures its success in part by how few Palestinian civilians it kills.
 
With uncertainty surrounding the next days and weeks, what can we do amid our anguish? For one thing, we shouldn’t feel ashamed about putting out the facts, emphasizing that Israel has the right and duty to defend its population. 
 
Secondly, Israelis need our moral, political and financial support. Thank your lawmakers in Washington for supporting Israel. Reach out to your friends and family in Israel. Give to the Israel Emergency Fund set up by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia (jewishphilly.org/israelfund).
 
And continue to pray for that most precious gift — the gift of peace.

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