CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On Israel’s Right to Self-Defence

Jan 3, 2009

The mainstream media is up to its usual tricks: for three years now some 3,500 missiles have been fired by Hamas into Israeli territory. I don’t seem to recall much of this reported by the MSM. Yet now that Israel is seeking to defend itself by taking out the Hamas militants, the media is all over this story.

It is of course nothing new to say that an anti-Israeli bias is a permanent feature of the MSM. Thus when its enemies do all they can to wipe Israel off the map, we hear little or nothing about this, or we hear sanitised versions of it. But when Israel says enough is enough, and seeks to target those responsible for sending rockets into civilian populations, the media all of a sudden awakes, and bewails Israeli ‘terrorism’ and ‘bloodshed’.

It is therefore necessary to get some perspective on all this. Three years ago Israel left Gaza. The Hamas-led blood-bath which followed was not a pretty sight, albeit largely un-reported by the MSM. Moderate political leaders were killed, and opposition to the Hamas fanatics was quickly wiped out. Dr. Earl Tilford picks up the story:

“Israel offered the Palestinians an opportunity to live side-by-side in peace. How did Hamas respond? Hamas fighters took over Gaza in a wave of violence, murdering hundreds of Palestinian political rivals and destroying much of the urban infrastructure left by the departing Israelis. One example was the destruction of greenhouses in northern Gaza, facilities that could have provided food and potentially agricultural exports for the Palestinian economy. Hamas destroyed these facilities because Jews built them. Israel offered its hand in peace and Hamas responded with shouts of ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’”

And consider the role of Egypt in this: “Israel’s ‘partner in peace’ allowed Hamas to dig over 100 tunnels under its border with Gaza. Egyptian border guards looked the other way while weapons and ammunition flowed through those tunnels into Gaza.”

And then there is the matter of 6,464 rocket and mortar attacks on Israel during this period. These were of course aimed at Israel’s civilian population. Hamas does not distinguish between civilian and non-civilian targets. To them, the only good Jew is a dead Jew.

Israel, by contrast, tries to play by the rules. It seeks to target only military personal and infrastructure. Of course this is made very difficult when Hamas deliberately ensconces itself in civilian populations, ensuring that when it is targeted, civilian casualties will of necessity occur. And of course the Western media is happy to show us these pictures time and time again.

As Charles Krauthammer explains, this tactic has two purposes: “First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage – or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb – will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.”

He continues, “For Hamas the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children’s program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey’s path to martyrdom).”

But what more can Israel do? It has a right to defend itself, and it even gives advance warning when it will launch a strike, giving civilians a chance to clear out. As Krauthammer points out, Israel went to the trouble of warning enemy noncombatants in advance, by means of thousands of cell-phone messages in Arabic. Thus there is no moral equivalence here whatsoever. One side deliberately targets civilians, hoping for maximum bloodshed, while the other side tries its best to avoid civilian casualties.

Still, critics and the MSM speak of Israel’s disproportionate response, and seek to make Israel out to be the aggressor. But as Michael Gerson notes, this is simply more fuzzy thinking: “Israel’s response has been criticized as ‘disproportionate,’ which betrays a misunderstanding of proportion’s meaning. The goal of military action, when unavoidable, is not to take one life in exchange for each one unjustly taken; this is mere vengeance. The goal is to remove the conditions that lead to conflict and the taking of life. So far, Israel’s actions have been proportionate to this objective. And the convoys of fuel, medical supplies and food sent by Israel into Gaza show an appropriate concern for Palestinian suffering, even during a broad assault on Hamas forces.”

He continues, “Israel’s immediate goal is simple: to stop missile barrages by Hamas on southern Israel. But it is not a coincidence that this action was taken by the primary sponsors of the peace process in Israeli politics. The Israeli public will not accept any further risks for peace as long as Hamas missiles fly. Those missiles are a daily symbol that Israeli territorial concessions result in the strengthening of committed enemies and the death of Israeli citizens. The removal of this threat is not an obstacle to the peace process. It is the prerequisite for the resumption of the peace process.”

Krauthammer puts the story into perspective: “Israel has but a single objective in Gaza – peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza. What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza’s Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base — importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.”

Or as Tilford puts it, “Israel and the Palestinian Authority are in agreement over the creation of a Palestinian state. Negotiations are over where the lines will be drawn. Hamas’ intransigence and terrorist attacks complicate those negotiations. Indeed, Hamas does not want any agreement with Israel. It is impossible for Israel to reach an accommodation with an entity dedicated to its extermination. The only hope for attaining a just peace in this tragically afflicted region is the complete destruction of Hamas.”

It is hard to negotiate with those who want to see you destroyed. It is hard to live in peace with radical haters of Israel who have vowed never to allow it to survive. Israel is in a terrible bind here. If it does nothing in response to the Hamas attacks, it is committing national suicide. If it responds, it is criticised by an amoral and biased media.

Yet Israel has a right to exist. It has defended itself on numerous occasions over the past 60 years, and will continue to do so. It has every moral right to survival. It cannot continue to live in fear and terror as its enemies flex their muscles.

As Gerson summarises: “There is no question – none – that Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza is justified. No nation can tolerate a portion of its people living in the conditions of the London Blitz – listening for sirens, sleeping in bomb shelters and separated from death only by the randomness of a Qassam missile’s flight. And no group aspiring to nationhood, such as Hamas, can be exempt from the rules of sovereignty, morality and civilization, which, at the very least, forbid routine murder attempts against your neighbors.”

townhall.com/columnists/CharlesKrauthammer/2009/01/02/the_necessity_of_israel
www.crosswalk.com/news/commentary/11597656/
townhall.com/columnists/MichaelGerson/2009/01/02/israels_proportionate_response

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28 Responses to On Israel’s Right to Self-Defence

  • Predictably the Greens, in the shape of their leader Bob Brown, have called upon the federal government to condemn iSRAEL. No condemnation by the Greens of Hamas for the firing of rockets into israel over the past years. How about a bit of balance Bob rather than secular pietistic platitudes?
    Wayne Pelling

  • Anybody whose house is under attack has a right to defend his property and lives. And Israel has that right. Often the best form of defence is to put out your attacker especially one that is determined to put you out first. I hope Europe wil not take the side of the powerful oil producers but be clear cut in supporting Israel. Obama will also now be put to the test. We have to be vocal and give Israel all the support we can. Having said that, I hope the other Arab nations will put pressure on Hamas to cease firing their rockets into Israel and avoid escalating the conflict further, for the sake of its own people.

    Barry Koh

  • Thank you Bill for your excellent work on this vital issue. It is so frustrating to daily witness the anti-Israeli press and TV reports. Thank God the truth is told through your efforts. Bless you and yours for the New Year.

    Here’s a link to an excellent piece on Melanie Phillip’s blog at The Spectator which sheds some light on this relatively new form of “asymmetrical confrontations”:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3055336/a-new-kind-of-warfare.thtml

    Jennifer Parfenovics

  • Thanks, Bill, for posting this piece on the Arab-Israel conflict. I too get very frustrated at the flagrant double standards, the flim-flam analysis, and the cheap moralising from the mainstream media over this issue. But the aspect that frustrates me the most is the refusal to face the theological dimension: it is a religious conflict between Islam and Judaism.

    You see, for the Muslim Muhammad is the final, and uncorrupted revelation of Allah, as opposed to that of the Jews (and Christians), which the latter have corrupted. Hence the existence of a Jewish state, built on Jewish principles and observing the (corrupted) Torah is not only an anachronism but an affront – an affront to Allah, and an affront to the supreme revelation to Muhammad. It cannot exist, now that the pure and final revelation of Allah has arrived. That being the case a Jewish state must not exist – Allah would not allow it.

    Thus for the Muslim it does not exist, and this rabble which calls itself a Jewish state must be nothing more than an upstart bunch of rebels against Allah, and a blot on Allah’s landscape. It must therefore be eradicated. Hence Hamas is acting true to Islamic principles: there can be NO “peaceful co-existence”!

    What we have seen for the past 60+ years is therefore a religious war for the destruction of an illegitimate Jewish state (in the Muslim mind), but this real dimension of the conflict is lost on the Western secularist, for whom religion is – and must be – irrelevant.

    I once saw Benjamin Netanyahu interviewed on CNN during the First Gulf War in early 1991. When asked about negotiations with the Palestinians and other Arab countries he was, as ever, courteous, but affirmed that Israel was willing to negotiate with any country or group at any time, but that they acknowledge one thing first: “We exist!” Ah, but that’s the sticking point for the Arab Muslims: Israel does not exist. Why? Because their Islamic theology says so; that’s why!

    Until Western journos come to grips with this theological dimension of the whole conflict, their superficial, flim-flam analyses are so off target that they are nothing more than hot air. But I don’t see any change in outlook coming any time soon.

    Murray Adamthwaite

  • Thanks Jenny for the link to Melanie Phillips and her concluding remark:

    “The difficulty, and it is extreme, lies in persuading a civilisation that is fast losing the power to reason at all of the objectively verifiable truth – in whose very existence, however, the relativist west has long ceased to believe.”

    I believe the Islamic mind understands perfectly how the west has been taken over by its own Hegelian world view and, like the marshal arts expert, will push us in the direction it will make us naturally fall.

    This article is little more up to date: http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/19211

    David Skinner, UK

  • Are you serious? You are actually believe that attacking and murdering children is a just response. Attacking people while at prayer is acceptable?
    Nobody could dispute the right of Israel to defend itself but the question is the level and type of response.
    The secular Israeli State is a violent country that while professing to wanting peace has no more intention of living in peace than it’s enemies. In truth, Israel hides behind something that happened before almost all of us were born.
    Israel cannot be criticised. It has powerful support from the Jewish community in the USA. If Israel was any other country, we would not even be arguing about the issue. Israel is a facist country. Stop defending the indefensible.
    Do doubt it’s supporters will never see reason but surely even the dumbest can see there is no way this approach will work. The Israeli military machine has tried this approach before. All that will happen is bitter fighting and eventual withdrawal, just as on previous attempts.
    Meanwhile the hate by the oppressed will grow and the Moslem world will hate the whole Western world even more.
    You don’t make friends by killing their children and blowing up their homes. You make bitter enemies.
    Steven Eldridge

  • Bill, this article has an ironic twist for me: on the one hand, I am grieved by what is exposed, on the other it invokes a blessing by driving home the blessing of being delivered, many years ago, from a Spirit of ‘The Age’ Uniting Church, and it’s phony Social Justice stance.
    Stan Fishley

  • Thanks Steven

    It appears that you did not even read the article. Or if you have, you won’t allow facts to stand in the way of ideology. As I mentioned, Israel tries its best to minimise civilian casualties, while Hamas goes out of its way to create civilian casualties. Yet you seem to offer no moral concerns about what Hamas is doing – you simply join the anti-Israel cheer squad.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • whislt I understand that every nation has a right to defend their homeland,yet it is disproportionate that Israel can kill up to 550 and wound over 2000 in 2/3 days and get support?it seems to me that Hamas has given them the reason they have always been looking for and that is to eliminate the Palestinians once and for all. Perhaps the real agenda is to keep the Palestinians in a weak position forever. It would be no question that no support would be shown for this act of disproportionate violence towards another nation if it was another country that was doing it. Dont get me wrong Hamas is wrong and now stupid because they have given Israel a reason now to eliminate them and the innocent children and women because we all know for a fact that Israel has the latest and more sophisticated warfare.Yet I wonder that what is reported of Hamas is accurate at all?After all they were democractically elected,isnt that what being a free nation means?You see the moslems have always known the world support for the Jews especially in USA. That is the inequity of it all, as a super power should’nt they govern/police the world with more equity?What does it really mean in terms of humanity or on religion to be a leader?What do the leaders have to show as example in conduct?Do we show contempt for those who are weak? Siti Khatijah

  • Thanks Siti

    No, Israel is not out to destroy the Palestinians. It is trying to defend itself from Hamas terrorists who have never recognised Israel’s right to exist. If I were throwing rocks into your family’s yard for three years, injuring or killing your children, and I have stated that I do not want you and your household to exist, and I proclaim terror against innocents is justifiable, you might have a good case to take some action against me, your aggressive neighbour.

    And this is not some David versus Goliath story that you are trying to paint it to be. Hamas is fully backed by Iran, and Israel is surrounded by nations which would be most pleased to see it no longer exist. Indeed, in its 60 years history, it has been invaded on numerous occasions by combined armies.

    No other state is struggling like this simply to exist, in the midst of so much violent opposition. While Israel is not perfect, and can and does make mistakes, it seems in this case Israel has some legitimate grievances, and it must do something to reduce the threat of Hamas.

    Even the UN recognises Hamas as a terrorist organisation, and a leading Hamas figure has just said that Jewish children will be targeted around the world. I don’t see Israel deliberately targeting Muslim children around the world. So I see no moral equivalence here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill. i am not trying to paint anything out. I certainly support nations who try to defend themselves against aggression. The point i am making is that it seems disproportionate because Israel’s weapons are far more sophisticated and they can wipe them out.More importantly I think though that both are wrong and that something more has to be done by independent nations and that we the world cannot allow countries/people to continue this way. It doesnt work not for Hamas nor for Israel to do so. Nor do I agree that its surrounding neighbours think like this entirely bar those extremists .
    Siti Khatijah.

  • Bill when you bomb a residential area arent you targeting children?Bombs do not discriminate, when you bomb a residential area then you kill children.No amount of fancy talk changes or excuses that. So how do we the world make excuses for it ,whether its Hamas or Israel?
    Siti Khatijah

  • Just today I heard a report (ABC newsradio) about this situation and the British reporter was trying to be balanced. The reporter interviewed a Palestinian psychologist about the damage being caused to their youth by this bombardment by the Israelis and then went on to say he had spoken to an Israeli psychologist but then the report was cut off.
    Max Stam, Albany WA

  • Thanks Siti

    But you seem to be ignorant of modern weaponry. For decades now we have had “smart bombs” and the like, with computer-guided warheads that can pinpoint tiny targets. A missile can be sent from hundreds of miles away and hit a precise and very small target. We all saw this during the Gulf wars, for example, with missiles going down air vents, and so on.

    So the problem is not at all Israel’s bombing or missile launches. It is the deliberate strategy of a terrorist organisation to imbed itself in civilian populations (in schools, hospitals, mosques, etc) knowing full well the huge publicity and media advantage if Israel seeks to take out Hamas personnel and collateral damage occurs. See my newest article on all this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2009/01/06/israel-hamas-and-moral-equivalence/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Now that you have reminded me yes i have read that they can pinpoint targets.Yes in my deep honest moment i can also concede with you that Hamas is deliberate in its strategy to hide amongst civilians (thinking this may save them) but the sadness remains for both sides. Dont you see that when there is no trust amongst men then no amount of assistance/convincing will ever help. Israel is convinced that the extremists want to eliminate them yet they have every right to peaceful enjoyment of their home like we are and then there is Palestinians who ahve had no home for more than 50 years. Imagine if we were to become like that , sheer desperations sets in. All i know is as a human being is that this should NOT happen to anyone especially neighbours whatever the reasons and justifications. The world must help them coexist, we must. It is OUR responsibility if not we fail just like we failed in the past during the persecution of an entire nation because of their identity nothing more. When will we learn and remember?
    Siti Khatijah

  • The “Palestinians……have had no home for more than 50 years.” There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. This is just another myth propagated by anti-Semites and promoted by a compliant media. The issue was recently covered by Michael Brown on his radio show here.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • So the Palestinians dont exist. Ok so what do we call these displaced group of people and what should we do with them?let them live like that forever because its a myth?Or is it ok to kill them?Is that what you are saying here? I dont understand your statement.Killing themn is okay because they are a myth? Siti Khatijah

  • You may not want to believe certain things but not everyon is anti semitic.Some of us are actually ANTI WAR ANTI killiNG and ANTI DESTRUCTION. no matter who is doing it.
    Siti Khatijah

  • Thanks Siti

    If you are against all killing, were you loudly condemning the 6000 Hamas rockets raining down on Israel during the past three years, or did your concerns only publicly erupt when Israel decided that enough is enough and it started to defend itself?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill. I was actually loudly telling the Middle eastern people what the west thinks of the Moslems. I actually make sure that when I speak to my friends who are of non moslem backgrounds that we do not condone killings because taking a life is not in our hands. It is up to the One that created us. Do you really think that we dont do anything. The only thing that ever gets reported is the extremist people. How do you think we the ones who are not and wish for peace live with this everyday being reported.There are groups who are trying to keep the peace despite the only attention being on Hamas and Al Qaeda and how extreme the moslems are. I come from a country who before all this women are actually in all levels, whether as a mother a teacher, a lawyer a rpofessional, ministers. I was never ever taught hatred towards any non christians. In fact I grew up with them peacefully. So yes to answer your question I do to a point where my own husband tells me I will get into trouble with my own kind as he is not from my country and I say I dont care because killing (any killing ) you is wrong. There is such a thing as the Rule of Law, and once that is broken then tyranny follows. I actually dont agree with both sides. they are both wrong to kill. Just like I dont agree that the Iraq war should have happened. Just like I dont agree that Iran should be bomb. Just like I dont agree the persecution of the Jews.I live being different everyday of my life. I know what its like. I dont agree with injustices because it shows that humanity is lost and only ego, hatred prevails and everyone is blinded by that and only that.
    Siti Khatijah.

  • Only the other day we had a conversation with a group of people and I said that the Jews have been persecuted since the time of Moses ( maybe even earlier) so I said that we must understand where they are coming form their perspective in things. They deserve peaceful enjoyment of their lives just as others do. On the ground we dont want this we dont want Hamas to kill, we dont want to be reported as being evil, to be eradicated, that everything said about the religion is painful to read about listen too, we dont weant AlQaeda to be the way they are. what is the source of all this hatred this is what we need to answer. when did it start and how do we go about helping both, everyone. we cannot live like this can we? I tell all the moslems i encounter that this is wrong. that taking a life is wrong. it is not up to us.i can only speak to the moslems. I lament to just about everyone i know especially the middle eastern people about how this country australia is good and that people who migrate should treat it with respect, follow the rule of law, improve themselves and dont bring with them their culture or ways that are not compatible here. that is why I put in my two cents worth here, to show you that i not only want to take from you but i want to be part of what is right and good and contribute. that having discourses with you may change your views a little if not everything about these evil people. if i can do my bit to change the people who migrate here from different parts of the wiorld that i encounter I will. I always do.
    Siti khatijah

  • Siti, where did I say that killing the so-called Palestinians is OK because they are a myth? I am astounded by such misrepresentation.

    Prior to the establishment of the modern state of Israel, the Palestinians as a people group did not exist. The people referred to as Palestinians today exist only because Israel’s neighbouring Arab states refused to allow their fellow Arabs to settle there and instead used the situation to create a refugee crisis for the purpose of undermining the state of Israel. There is more detail in that radio show I linked to. Listen to it and you might learn something.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • The mainstream media lies about Israel. Remember the photoshopped a pic of smoke (see Reuters admits doctoring Beirut photo), or reports “funerals” of the same “corpse” that turns out to be very much alive ….: Canadian columnist Paul Schneidereit has written, “[…] we’ve seen cases where the bodies of Palestinian martyrs carried on stretchers are inadvertently dropped, then, of their own volition, climb back on again. We’ve seen reports of massacres, as in Jenin in 2002, that turned out, after independent investigation, to have been greatly exaggerated. Needless to say, such episodes don’t instil an abiding trust in subsequent Palestinian claims, at least until they’re verified.” Professor Richard Landes of Boston University, in his online video Pallywood: According to Palestinian Sources documents “Palestinian cameramen, especially when there are no Westerners around, engage in the systematic staging of action scenes.”

    But this didn’t stop professing Christian Gordon Moyes from ranting against Israel’s right to self-defence (for Moyes’ views on any topic, just see the current opinion of the secular left), and thinks that Israel has no right to destroy the “democratically elected government” government of Hamas. Hamas is the Hebrew word for violence, and the Hamas charter is committed to the eradication of Israel. Israel should indeed try to wipe out this “democratically elected government”, just as the Allies wiped out the democratically elected Nazis in WW2. At the very least, Israel should not stop as long as any rockets are fired. Moyes probably would have called a ceasefire in WW2 even as the Nazis were raining V2 rockets on London.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Ewan, I wasnt trying to misrepresent anything. I just did not know where you were heading with your comment. The thing is any war is very disheartening. One wants to find solutions for these people because as I said before, I tell the middle eastern people off for what hamas is doing (although I am not middle eastern myself). their reply is that because they see the Palestinians being treated badly but they dont want ot fight with Israel. So I say that Israel has a right to live peacefully as a group of people too. It is their world too. I have come to know some jewish people and they are pretty normal to me. Infact one has been quite delightful in his approach when he found out my background. I have always trusted the wwests ability to reason. That is why I am dissapointed when the West shos partiality to one side because without the West and their high reasoning ability where do we go? and who do we turn too?
    Siti Khatijah

  • when I encountered the very nice jewish background person and he asked where I was from and found out I was Sufi, he said that it was sad the state of affairs between the two, I agreed and told him that I would very much like to visit the Holy Land one day if I ever was permitted too.And he told me that he prays for my wish to come true and that if only he could visit my country. You see when humanity is lost people hate but when it is not I know for a fact that they can overcome their differences. We must collectively remind them of their humanity.
    Siti Khatijah.

  • For the sake of humanity please read Professor Jonathan Glover of Kings College London as he talks about the possibilty for peace for both Israel and the Palestinians on abc.net.au/encounter on the 21.12.08,”Towards Peace between Israelis and palestinians”. I know that we have goodness in everyone. we just need the help of those who can show it to help them get through this.
    Siti Khatijah.

  • We are told there will be wars. There has always been a war at some point in time. Will can try and justify the actions of one waring party or the other but how can you justify killing the image of God? The Jews and Islam are both as bad as each other. They are ignorant. Ignorant of the real truth of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. For as long as they both ignore the truth about forgiveness, turning the other cheek and loving your enemy as Jesus has taught us, they will never have peace. Pray that the Holy Spirit will allow the peace and love of the Gospel to enter their hearts bringing about a real end to the war.
    David Visser

  • Wow…
    I can see Bill that in spite of evidence to the contrary, people STILL believe the MSM “fairytale” that Israel is THE ENEMY.

    Numbers 6:27 (KJV) is only one of many that says it all:

    And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.

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