Israelis who blame Israel are not helping the Palestinians

Israelis who blame Israel are not helping the Palestinians
By Ari Shavit, Haaretz

Operation Cast Lead is a just campaign. Just, because in the summer of 2005 Israel destroyed all the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and withdrew unilaterally to the international border. Just, because from 2006 to 2008 the Palestinian entity in the Strip did not take advantage of the occupation's end to build itself and its future and instead repeatedly attacked Israel within the Green Line.

Just, because for three solid years the State of Israel bit its lips and acted with restraint. Just, because no country in the world can accept for an extended period of time a situation in which its citizens are forsaken and its sovereignty violated. Just, because there is no chance for peace in the Middle East if the Jewish state is viewed as easy prey bleeding in the water and attracting sharks.

Operation Cast Lead is a tragic campaign. Tragic, because it is causing the deaths of hundreds and injuring thousands. Tragic, because it is causing physical and emotional injury to innocent Palestinians, including women and children. Tragic, because like every war it creates intolerable human hardship and heartbreaking suffering.

But the tragedy of Operation Cast Lead is unavoidable. It derives directly from the fact that the Palestinians did not take proper advantage of the historic opportunity given to them in 2005. It derives from the fact that when the Palestinians achieved self-government for the first time in their history they misused it. It derives from the fact that the Palestinian need to destroy Israel is still stronger than their need to build Palestine.

Israel-hating Israelis call Operation Cast Lead a war crime. They record the names of each and every Palestinian killed, denounce each and every Israeli action and portray their state as a bully. While the Egyptians are saying that Hamas is largely responsible for the tragedy of Gaza, Israel-hating Israelis place the whole responsibility on their government and military. While the international community silently understands that a sovereign state is duty-bound to protect its citizens' lives, Israel-hating Israelis believe that Israeli lives can be forfeited.

While the simple facts indicate that the violence in the south derives from the despicable actions of an extremist organization that turned the Strip into a district of terror, Israel-hating Israelis persist in their hatred of their people and homeland and defend the morality of Hamas' destructive aggression.

There is no call for hating the Israel-hating Israelis. At the end of the day, their position is a pathetic one. Their self-righteousness is not at all righteous, and their moralizing has no morality. Their inability to show compassion for the Israelis of Be'er Sheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Sderot shows that they possess a degree of callousness. Their inability to view the Arabs firing the Grad rockets as being responsible for their actions shows that they are not free of paternalism.

The real motivation of Israel-hating Israelis is not genuine concern for the Palestinians, but rather a form of reverse racism. By showing forgiveness toward Palestinian fascism they turn their backs not only on Israelis but also on moderate, freedom-loving Palestinians. Those who blame Israel for everything and exonerate the Palestinians of everything are neither serving the cause of peace nor helping to end the violence and occupation. All they are doing is proving the extent to which they are blinded by their burning self-hatred.

Operation Cast Lead is an intelligent, impressive operation. The element of surprise was total, the intelligence was precise and the timing was brilliant. The fact that the operation was launched after a six-month cease-fire violated by Hamas gives it political legitimacy and moral justification. The fact that it was carefully planned and carefully executed has restored a degree of trust in Israeli capabilities.

It is possible that after the initial air campaign and the destruction of the tunnels, the operation should have been suspended. It is possible that the French truce proposal should now be adopted and a final chance given for Palestinian clearheadedness. But those who reject the operation in its entirety are blind to reality and the moral failure.

The coming days will be difficult. There may be errors, perhaps complications, perhaps even victims. But for this very reason now is not the time for a campaign of hate against Israel's leaders, commanders, soldiers and pilots. Just the opposite. This is the time to strengthen the hand of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is proving himself to be a respected national leader.

This is the time to stand behind the commanders, soldiers and pilots working day and night to conduct a difficult, complex and entirely just war. This is the time for Israel to finally behave as a mature nation protecting itself with wisdom and restraint.

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