I am not as concerned about the rise of antisemitism as I am worried that Israel's detractors in the West, particularly on the left, always find justification for Israel's enemies' actions.
When Hamas bombed Israel after the latter withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the argument was that Israel still controlled the air space. When Hamas attacked, again and again, the rationale that justified it was that Israel had imposed a blockade on Gaza. What was not sufficiently mentioned was that Hamas used the territory from which Israel withdrew to attack Israelis or that Hamas' charter calls for Israel's destruction. The argument about the blockade recently recurred even though Israel, in an agreement with Qatar, allowed the passage of merchandise and funds for hundreds of millions of dollars from Israel to Gaza.
From the beginning of the Oslo peace process, Hamas was a saboteur killing hundreds of Israeli civilians and creating schisms between Israelis and Palestinians. The multiple wars between Israel and Hamas result from the group's using Gaza as a launchpad to attack Israel. Had Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and other dissident groups remained peaceful, they would have been today living in a Palestinian state.
The recent conflict was also blamed on the eviction of a few Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the Israeli police incursion into the Al-Aqsa compound. The Sheikh Jarrah case is a legal issue pending a decision in the Israeli Supreme Court.
Bernie Sanders asserted that the Israeli legal system is, by its nature, designed to accommodate the Israeli government's colonial agenda. However, the fact is that the Israeli high court invalidated many laws that were aimed at benefiting settlers and damaging Palestinian Arabs. One such example is the "Regularization Law," a highly controversial law passed with the support of the Netanyahu government. The law enables the state to expropriate the usage of land owned by Palestinians in areas of the West Bank that are still under complete Israeli control (area C).
The Israeli high court revoked that law and instructed the government not to implement it. The Supreme Court in Israel is a counterbalance to settlers' policies, not an enabler. It is not the first time Sanders displays prejudice and fails to check facts. In 2014 he falsely accused Israel of killing 10,000 civilians in Gaza.
As per Al-Aqsa, the Israeli police entered the mosque after Palestinians began throwing stones at security forces. It was a security measure, not a violation of religious rights.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, like some other mainstream journalists, pointed an accusatory finger at Israel because of the loss of civilian lives. Kristof suggests that Israel should be better than Hamas, implying that Israel should have refrained from taking military action against the terrorist group. During the U.S. military operations against ISIS ordered by Barack Obama, 1,400 civilians died. Does it mean the U.S. shouldn't have fought ISIS? Has anybody dared to justify ISIS' public beheading of American journalists or urged Obama to stop targeting ISIS on humanitarian grounds?
The Russians killed thousands of Syrian civilians just to protect the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad. Turkey killed, tortures and forced the displacement of tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians. Russia and Turkey have not been subjected to the U.N. Human Rights Council or obsessive attacks by mainstream media army of columnists.
Kristof may think that Russia and Turkey are barbaric nations. Yet, where is the idea of universal human rights? Or, paraphrasing Sanders, may it is that only "Palestinian lives matter"?
Thus, the elements of deterrence and self-defense are being denied Israel. This ridiculous notion spilled beyond progressive sectors in Congress into mainstream members, such as House Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks, who initially requested a delay of arms sales to Israel.
Another charge against Israel is that it is an apartheid state. This accusation has been made by members of Congress known as The Squad and ''confirmed" by New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg. Goldberg claimed to rely on a Human Rights Watch report, a document written by a fanatic anti-Israel activist opposed to Israel's right to exist.
Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis are equal before the law. There are natural elements of human discrimination and social inequities like any other democracy, including the United States, France or Great Britain. To give an example, Arabs constitute 20% of the Israeli population but comprise 17% of the doctors. Arabs have occupied posts in the Israeli high court and have had representation in Parliament throughout the entire Israeli history.
As per the West Bank residents, most of the Palestinian population is under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, except the already mentioned area C, whose final status was supposed to be negotiated at the end of the Oslo peace process. There is indeed a problem of inequality as Palestinian Arabs, unfortunately, face more restrictions in terms of construction rights and purchase of property. However, even this problematic area cannot be considered apartheid because it has not been annexed to Israel and its final status needs yet to be determined.
The New York Times also recently accused Benjamin Netanyahu of "presiding over the dismantlement of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process." That is highly inaccurate. The truth is that the Palestinian leadership rejected a Palestinian state on several occasions. Instead, the Palestinian leadership demanded from Israel concessions that Israel couldn't deliver, such as the "right of return" of millions of Palestinians into Israel proper. An unreasonable counter-proposal.
Israeli offers occurred not once but three times. For an entire decade, Israel was presided by prime ministers that either offered generous peace deals to the Palestinians (Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert) or supported unilateral separation from the Palestinians to end the occupation (Ariel Sharon).
President Joe Biden should be commended for reaffirming Israel's right to self-defense and for demanding Palestinian and Arab recognition of Israel. However, progressive congressional Democrats and western media critics of Israel conveniently avoid searching for the truth and consequently sound as unreasonable as Palestinian demagogues.
Luis Fleischman is a professor of Sociology at Palm Beach State College and the co-founder of the think tank the Palm Beach Center for Democracy and Policy Research. He is also the author of "Latin America in the Post-Chávez Era: The Security Threat to the United States" and "The Middle East Riddle: A Study of the Middle East Peace Process and Israeli-Arab Relations in Changing Times." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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