Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nicholas Kristof Blames Israel First

In a predictably one-sided recent opinion piece ironically entitled “Seeking Balance on Mideast,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof took Congress and Israel to task for their “obstructionism” against Palestinian statehood. If only Washington would “adopt a more balanced policy” and Netanyahu would soften his “intransigence,” then the stalled peace process could finally move forward toward Israel’s utopian coexistence with the Jew-hating, genocidal Hamas and Palestinian Authority. In fact, Kristof, as usual, has it completely backward.

Apparently still under the illusion that the vaunted “Arab Spring” is a flowering of democratic pluralism across the Arab world, Kristof says hopefully that in its wake, “the United States has a chance for a new beginning in the region.” As long as we don’t fumble the opportunity, that is, by supporting Israel against Palestinian terrorism like we did during Operation Cast Lead:

When Israel stormed into Gaza in 2008 to halt rocket attacks, more than 1,300 Gazans were killed, along with 13 Israelis, according to B’Tselem, a respected Israeli human rights group. As Gazan blood flowed, the House, by a vote of 390 to 5, hailed the invasion as “Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Such Congressional tomfoolery bewilders our friends and fritters away our international capital. It also encourages the intransigence of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reduces the chance of a peace settlement.
As the Fresno Zionism blogger points out, B’Tselem “is in no way an impartial human rights group, but rather an extremist organization devoted to nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish state,” and their casualty figures are inflated and misleading. An Israeli Defense Force report on the Cast Lead operation identifies 1,166 casualties, 709 of them Hamas terror operatives, 295 uninvolved Palestinians, and 162 men unattributed yet to any organization. About those civilian deaths: “The fighting took place in a complex battlefield,” the report notes,
defined by the Hamas terror organization itself. The Hamas terror organization strategically placed the primary fighting scene at the heart of civilian neighborhoods, as it booby-trapped homes, fired from schools, and used civilians as human shields.
Considering that, the number of civilian casualties was remarkably contained. And that’s because
[t]he IDF took extensive measures in order to prevent harming uninvolved civilians, including the dropping of leaflets, broadcasting warnings in local Palestinian media, and making numerous phone calls to homes. The IDF also utilized a system of warning shots and briefed its commanders on how to take extra precautions in populated areas.
Apparently the most extraordinary measures ever taken by a military force to protect against civilian casualties aren’t enough for Kristof, who implies that the phrase “Israel’s right to defend itself” is a thin euphemism for excessive military aggression against Arab innocents. People like Kristof consider this a lack of “balance.”

The fact of the matter is that Israel is a tiny island in an ocean of relentless Arab hatred – there’s the real lack of balance – and has to push back hard when necessary in order to deter and punish aggressors. The Israel Matzav blogger challenges Kristof by asking, “Are we supposed to risk our lives because yet another pompously detached writer for the New York Times thinks it's the right thing to do?

Kristof justifies his stance on Israel thusly:
Whenever I write about Israel, I get accused of double standards because I don’t spill as much ink denouncing worse abuses by, say, Syria. I plead guilty. I demand more of Israel partly because my tax dollars supply arms and aid to Israel. I hold democratic allies like Israel to a higher standard — just as I do the U.S.
Got that? He expects worse abuses from Syria and Israel’s other neighbors, so he gives them a pass and wags his finger instead at Israel for asserting its security while bending over backwards to protect civilians. Why not hold everyone to the same standard? Why not demand instead that nations that routinely trample human rights rise to the level of the United States and Israel? Besides, our tax dollars go to the Palestinian Authority as well, so why are they off-limits to a little chastising?

Exemplifying Kristof’s inverted concept of “balance” is a former government official named Jeremy Ben-Ami, who
has been trying to change the political dynamic in Washington with a new organization — J Street — that presses Congress and the White House to show more balance. Ben-Ami has just published a book, “A New Voice for Israel,” that is a clarion call for American reasonableness in the Middle East.
And by “reasonableness,” Kristof and Ben-Ami mean we should be pressuring Israel to cave in to Palestinian unreasonableness, though this would mean the end of Israel. The George Soros-connected J Street is, as NY Rep. Gary Ackerman put it, “an organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.”

And yet Kristof touts Ben-Ami, who “is aghast at the way the United States is enabling hard-line Israeli policies that make peace less likely,” and quotes him as saying that “If things don’t change pretty soon, chances are that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will slip through our fingers.”

Except there will never be a two-state solution. Why not? One reason only: not because of hardline Israeli stubbornness, but because the Palestinians don’t want a two-state solution and never have. Nothing less than “the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea,” as Arafat used to say, will satisfy them. They want one state – Palestine – and they want Jews driven to the sea and Israel wiped off the map (they have already wiped it off their actual maps). “We want Palestine in its entirety,” said Hamas leader Mahmud Zahhar just last month. “If our generation is unable to achieve this, the next one will, and we are raising our children on this. Palestine means Palestine in its entirety, and Israel cannot exist in our midst.”

So what’s at the root of Nicholas Kristof’s wrongheaded imputation of blame? “Cluelessness”? “Damned hypocrisy”? “Sheer slimy dishonesty”? Whatever the reason, if Kristof wants to lecture someone about balance, obstructionism and intransigence, perhaps he could aim his rudderless moral compass at the Palestinian leadership.

(An edited version of this article originally appeared here at FrontPage Mag)