Facts important in understanding Gaza conflict
August 20, 2014
I need to respond to an article written by Karen DeHart regarding the conflict in Gaza because it is full of prejudicial half-truths.
DeHart writes: "The Israelis are bombing defenseless people who are already their prisoners."
Fact: While there are defenseless Gazan citizens, their leadership is anything but defenseless. Israel unilaterally turned Gaza over to the Palestinians in 2005. In 2007, Hamas forcibly took control of the Gaza Strip and vowed to destroy Israel. They turned Gaza into a "launching pad" for thousands of rockets into mostly residential areas of Israel. Often those launch sites and weapon storage facilities have been placed within civilian buildings including schools, hospitals — even mosques.
DeHart writes: "The Israelis have imposed a harsh blockade, limiting Gaza's access to basic living essentials …"
Fact: There is, in fact, an Israeli blockade of Gaza. It was first implemented in 2007, the minute that Hamas took control. Something as benign-sounding as building materials, Israel argued, could easily be used to build tunnels for smuggling. Sadly, Israel was proven correct as such tunnels were used to carry out crimes such as kidnapping and worse within Israel. At this writing, approximately 40 to 60 tunnels have been discovered by Israeli troops in Gaza — all of which emerge within Israel.
DeHart writes (almost complains) that only three Israelis have died compared to hundreds (and now over 1,000) Gazans. I'm sorry that she feels that Israel has not suffered enough under the Hamas rocket siege from Gaza. Since Hamas took control in 2007, their rocket attacks have killed 28 Israelis, mostly civilians, and injured thousands more. But their main effect is their creation of widespread psychological trauma within Israel.
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How long does Karen DeHart suggest Israel should put up with this kind of reality? How many Israeli deaths is Hamas allowed to perpetrate before Israel can effectively respond? This is not a contest to see who has suffered the most. There is far too much suffering on both sides of this conflict.
DeHart writes: Americans "hear only a censored, one-sided version of the situation from TV and newspapers."
Fact: If she is referring to Israeli media, there is nothing censored about it. Freedom of dissent is alive and well in Israel — and there are plenty of examples to illustrate this. And if she is referring to the American press, the best indicator that our media is functioning well is that both Israelis and Palestinians complain that their side is not fully represented. The U.S. media, uncensored as it is, does a fine job.
DeHart prefers the Internet as a source of unbiased news about Israel and then recommends three sources, all of which are filled with one-sided bias against Israel (just look for yourself). While they have a right to exist and say what they want (and I would defend their right), they are above all, extended editorial opinions. Is that where you want to get your news?
Finally, instead of trash-talking the U.S. government's role in this conflict, how about presenting the truth? Part of the text of the most recent attempt to bring about a cease fire (which came from John Kerry's proposal) is this, "protecting civilian lives, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip and achieving a sustainable cease-fire and enduring resolution of the crisis." That is what our country stands for in this conflict: "an enduring resolution" and an ultimate peace.
Alan Greenbaum is the former rabbi of Congregation B'nai Harim in Grass Valley.