Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We Have an Israel Problem

This Memorial Day weekend, while most Americans were preparing for backyard barbecues and mattress sales, and even a few remembering our war dead, a now-worldwide incident unfolded where the Israeli Defense Force boarded a humanitarian flotilla destined for a blockaded Gaza, captured the crew and killed perhaps sixteen people in the process.

The international reaction to this incident has indeed been one of furor.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called the killing of civilians “a grave act.” The German government issued a statement saying that Israel must consider “proportionality” regarding its own self-defense while the Norwegian Prime Minister called for an end to the blockade of Gaza. (Source: Yahoo News)

Over here, commentators on both sides of the aisle are tripping over themselves in an ugly farce trying to justify Israel’s actions.

Marty Peretz at the reliably liberal New Republic tries to convince us that “The Facts are on Israel’s Side.”

On David Horowitz’s Newsreal blog, which never misses an opportunity to confuse Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States, the proprietor shamelessly called the people on the flotilla “armed jihadists” without a single reputable attribution to support his loaded claim and despite video footage showing that the passengers, at best, had makeshift weapons with which to defend themselves against armed Israeli soldiers boarding their ship. Apparently neoconservatives like Horowitz believe Turks armed with metal rods are a genuine threat to professionally-trained soldiers with automatic weapons.

Over at National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson imitated an Israeli press secretary thusly,

“The fallout from Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, the distortions around the 2002 terrorist storming of the Church of Nativity, the 2006 Lebanon war — over time, these incidents do their part, in weird fashion, to incur hatred for a liberal democracy while creating sympathy for a theocratic thugocracy like Hamas.”

A simpler way to look at it is if Larry King, who is currently going through his seventh divorce, defiantly exclaimed on television, “Cheat on half a dozen wives and suddenly you get a reputation as an adulterer.”

So what does all this mean?

The very fact that this incident is such an issue in the United States demonstrates that we have an Israel problem.

Can anyone identify the vital U.S. national interest in the eastern Mediterranean?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is all over American television defending the IDF’s actions calling it “self-defense.” That is to be expected.

But why are Americans like Victor Davis Hanson exercising every benefit of the doubt for a foreign government? The Obama White House, which has sycophantically stated that there will be no “daylight between the U.S. and Israel,” is probably wondering how to get that sort of treatment.

The problem is not whether Israel is right or wrong in disputes like these but that we defend and subsidize Israel in disputes that are none of our business in the first place.

And just what can the world expect in response?

Even if Hamas had nothing to do with this flotilla, does any rational thinker believe they will let this incident pass and not use it to increase their pressure on the Jewish state? Even new British Prime Minister David Cameron notes how the blockade and attack on this flotilla only strengthens Hamas’ grip on the besieged Palestinians.

Ardent Israel defenders in this country should set aside their hysteria to consider just one fact: Israel may have numerous enemies, but she is not weak.

Even if every exaggerated nightmare about Israel’s plight was true, their actions over the weekend, in their 2006 war in Lebanon, and the 2008 war in Gaza have demonstrated to the world that they are capable of defending themselves with relative ease.

Nor has this incident provided any real discomfort or danger for any American (except perhaps one American who is suspected to have been on the flotilla).

Moreover, Israel brings so much of this on herself.

For a country constantly claiming to be struggling in an anti-Semitic world, someone ought to ask why Israel insists on behaving in such a way that creates more resentment than security. Is this not making Israel’s enemies our enemies?

Perhaps it is time for some brave soul in Washington to ask, “What are we getting out of this relationship?”


Chris W said...

Great post Carl and just another reason why we need to return to our non-interventionist roots.

Carl Wicklander said...

Thanks, Chris W.

Oso said...

If memory serves (it often doesn't) I recall someone responding to the obligatory "Israel is our only friend in the middle east" by countering "Before Israel we had no enemies in the middle east".

I respect your willingness to stand for what is right, Carl.

Carl Wicklander said...

Thanks, Oso. I really do appreciate it.

I don't think it's a very radical point to suggest Israel might not be infallible. Yet when this essay appeared over at my new gig at, one reader was absolutely incensed and called me an "anti-Semite."

I didn't respond but I was tempted to ask him, "Do you defend your own government's actions with this much passion?"