Hamas wins again in its propaganda war

JEWISH LIGHT EDITORIAL

Once again, with dismal predictability, the old pattern has returned. First, the Hamas terrorist regime in the Gaza Strip pounds Israeli towns like Sderot with repeated attacks with deadly Kassem rockets, causing numerous deaths and injuries among innocent Israelis.

Despite Israel’s initially measured response to the attacks, they continued without letup until Israel ordered a major ground and air attack on the Gaza areas from which the rockets were launched. As usual, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, following their established pattern, placed the rocket launchers near civilian populations, and as a result, Palestinian civilians, including children were killed. Palestinian sources claimed that at least 160 Palestinians were killed in the raids. In the initial coverage, The New York Times and other media focused on heart-wrenching photographs of the burial of Palestinian children “killed in attacks by Israel,” provoking outrage and condemnation of Israel at the United Nations. Also predictably, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to suspend participation in his regular meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to protest Israel’s “disproportionate” response. He later reversed himself and said he would participate.

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The above pattern is all-too familiar in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Every time Israel makes concessions to the Palestinians, such as the complete withdrawal of all 8,500 Israelis from the Gaza Strip two summers ago, or its earlier withdrawal from southern Lebanon, the result is not moderation and movement toward peace, but increased acts of terrorism from Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip or Hezbollah operating out of southern Lebanon. In 2006’s ill-fated 34-day war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, which was caused by Hezbollah’s kidnapping of Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, it was not Hezbollah that was condemned, but Israel for using “excessive force,” or for reacting in a “disproportionate” manner. In the most recent clashes, it was Hamas terrorists who caused the violence in the first place with its rocket attacks and with a suicide bombing in the Israeli town of Dimona.

In the early part of the last century, when the Mexican adventurer Pancho Villa attacked a U.S. community, killing and wounding numerous people, President Woodrow Wilson sent General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing with a force of 10,000 troops across the border into Mexico in retaliation for Villa’s attacks. No American President would survive in office if he or she sat back and failed to defend our citizens when attacks are made on American soil, whether by Pancho Villa in the 1910s, or Al Qaeda on 9/11.

It is only Israel that is repeatedly condemned at the United Nations and by much of world media when it acts to defend its own citizens against repeated and unprovoked terrorist attacks on its citizens. Should Israel be expected simply to “tolerate” repeated attacks by Hamas from Gaza and Hezbollah from southern Lebanon? Why is the Hamas government, which is in de facto control of the Gaza Strip since it seized power from Fatah a year ago, not held responsible for its unprovoked attacks on innocent civilians? As Winston Churchill once observed, it is not appropriate to equate the firefighter with the arsonist, which unfortunately is the way in which Israel is treated in these situations.

Of course Hamas is eager to derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, since the last thing Hamas wants is a peace agreement in which the permanent existence of Jewish State of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an Arab State of Palestine is achieved. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas in Gaza was quoted in The New York Times as saying that Condoleezza Rice’s peace mission to the region was unwelcome.

“She came to cover up the crimes committed by Israel and to give moral support to the occupation,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Bush, after talks at the White House with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, expressed optimism that the peace deal could still be achieved before he leaves office in January 2009. “This is a process that, you know, always has two steps forward and one step back,” the president told reporters, adding, “We’ve got to make sure that it’s only one step back.” To his credit, King Abdullah II reiterated his support for the peace process.

We wish we could share the optimism of President Bush, and appreciate the continued support of Jordan’s King Abdullah for a true peace with security.

Published March 12, 2008