Ten Observations

Ten Observations

The front-page photo on Monday’s New York Times was disturbing — dust and blood covered Palestinian victims being pulled from the rubble of a building just hit by Israeli bombers, the headline next to the picture reading, “Casualties rise as Israel strikes on Gaza persist.”
Clearly, it was a negative message being sent to millions of readers. And it hardly conveyed both sides of a sad story.
But this is not an anti-New York Times column. Much of the media — though not all — will slant this way as Israel’s war on Hamas continues.
It’s just too easy. Israel sends bombers, bombs fall, people get hurt and people get killed. And the pictures come pouring in through the Internet. The why of the matter, where Israel’s side of the story lies, requires research and a long memory on the public’s part.
That means in these days of instant news and shortened attention spans, the odds are stacked against Israel in the PR segment of this war.
So we want to use this space to make 10 observations about this war, and the lead-up, which Jews, and everyone else for that matter, ought to remember.
First, Palestinian civilians are indeed suffering. Children have been killed, people have been mangled and the necessities of life are in short supply. These are facts and we would be less than Jewish if we didn’t feel sympathy for the people who aren’t carrying the guns and not launching the Kassams.
Second, those same people elected the government that is carrying the guns and launching the rockets. There has been no attempt to topple or recall that government. So that fact must temper our sympathy.
Third, Israelis are suffering, too. In Sderot, when a rocket is in the air, residents have 18 seconds to run for cover. Many Israeli children have been hurt and killed there and their schools hit by rockets. Not as many as the Palestinians? True, but it is a perverted logic, indeed, that suggests Israel should show restraint because its civilian casualties are not as high.
Fourth, this is a war; even Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called it that. In war, civilians get killed, including, we must remember, Israel’s own.
Fifth, world leaders are already criticizing Israel for using “disproportional force.” What does that really mean? If Hamas fires a Kassam, Israel should fire one back? If Hamas steps up to bigger, deadlier rockets, only then may Israel upgrade? We wonder, how many world leaders who use this lame term would actually employ it?
Sixth. The answer is, not many. One need only recall the Allied bombing runs on Germany and Japan during World War II. Entire cities were flattened with no regard to the civilians living there. We’re not criticizing the countries that did it; we’re just reminding them.
Seventh, Hamas’ action didn’t start with Israel’s closure of its borders, as it now wants the world to believe. It began by firing rockets across the border five days after Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza; in effect spitting on a significant though controversial peace gesture. And Hamas has been spitting ever since.
Eighth, before the rockets, Hamas sent suicide bombers by the hundreds into Israel, murdering men, women and children in school, cafes and bus stops — hardly military targets.
Ninth, peace with Hamas is impossible as long as it stands for Israel’s destruction, as Hamas always has.
Tenth, the world will take little note of these observations. Call it anti-Semitism, ignorance, spotty memory, whatever. It is nonetheless reality. World opinion cannot be ignored as Israel moves forward with this war; neither should it be the determining factor in how it is waged. Let’s hope the lessons of Lebanon have been learned.