Early on Operation Protective Edge became personal. The far Left launched the “Not in my name” campaign distancing itself from the IDF actions in Gaza and, as casualties began to mount up, demanded that Israel Radio publish the names of the Palestinian dead.
British-based journalist Mira Bar Hillel, for example, wrote a piece in The Independent with the attention-grabbing title: “Why I’m on the brink of burning my Israeli passport,” although she would have been better off using it to come and speak to the ordinary people, running for shelter as sirens wailed.
“Not in my name” is the mantra of Bar Hillel and her like-minded friends, some ill-informed, others deliberately misinforming.
By the time the 12th cease-fire went into effect on Tuesday, the Palestinians were blaming Israel for the deaths of more than 2,000 people in Gaza. It is hard to verify the names and details – particularly since there are signs that many of the so-called civilian casualties were actually Hamas members involved in the fighting and Hamas controls what information is released.
It is hard to remember the names of all the Israeli victims: The country mourns them all collectively. The name and image of forever four-year-old Daniel Tragerman, however, is etched in our minds. A young child cut down along with his dreams as he played at home on Kibbutz Nahal Oz on August 22.
And I know three names that should not be forgotten: Khaled Mashaal, Ismail Haniyeh and Muhammad Deif, whose fate is still unclear following an Israeli attempt to eliminate him.
These are the three people primarily responsible for the deaths on both sides – the deaths of their own people and the deaths of the Israeli victims. They fall into the “Remember Amalek!” category of names.
But credit where credit is due. Members of Islamic Jihad in Gaza have complained that their role in the fighting has been ignored and that they are being lumped together with, and overshadowed by, Hamas.
Years ago I heard a similar complaint by a Fatah supporter, who wanted me to spread the message that not all rockets from Gaza should be called Kassams as that term was specific to the Hamas-launched projectiles.
Fatah was proudly launching its own rockets, a project that ground to a halt when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and began hurling Fatah supporters from the rooftops.
Ironically, it’s unfortunate that the role of Islamic Jihad has been overlooked. The West has so far largely failed to see the true face of Hamas, obscured behind members’ black masks. The organization has gained the image of freedom fighters, struggling against the might of the oppressive Israelis.
Pointing to an enemy with the name Islamic Jihad might make it clearer what Israel is up against.
This is not a war about the fate and freedom of tiny Gaza. It’s not even about the fate of tiny Israel. It is about something much bigger: Global jihad, coming soon to a theater of war near you, unless your government takes immediate action.
Following the publication of the gruesome murder of journalist James Foley by an Islamic State member with a London accent, British Prime Minister David Cameron abruptly ended his summer vacation and rushed back to 10 Downing Street.
I can understand why the British public and its representatives felt such revulsion at the role of one its nationals in the grisly killing (definitely not in their names); I don’t see why everyone professed such surprise.
Foley’s terrible death isn’t the wake-up call; it’s the snooze button sounded after you’ve already silenced the annoying alarm.
If the murder last year of an off-duty soldier, hacked to death outside a British Army barracks in London, didn’t trigger a red light, the UK might need a panic button rather than an early warning system. Fusilier Lee Rigby was killed by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. Footage of the attack shows Adebolajo wielding a bloodied meat cleaver and proclaiming: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
There’s not too many ways to interpret that, no matter what accent it’s said in.
This week I received an email from Hezbollah’s media relations department (it apparently has such a thing and it is obviously concerned about its image): The statement condemned the “heinous murder committed by criminal and terrorist gangs against the American journalist James Foley.
“Supporting these groups, by funding them and offering them weaponry as well as media and political protection, in addition to the suspicious silence about their horrible crimes in Syria or Iraq, are the main cause behind these barbaric actions that are affecting everyone, without exceptions,” said Hezbollah’s PR statement.
It would be a mistake to read into this that Hezbollah is now a moderate group about to start a Lebanese equivalent of Peace Now.
Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, a name to watch when it comes to war and violence, is an Iranian-backed Shi’ite terrorist organization.
It hates Israel but at the moment feels more threatened by the Sunni extremist Islamic State (a band of evil murderous thugs by any of the names they go by, be it IS, ISIS or ISIL).
Don’t forget that even al-Qaida is condemning the Islamic State movement it gave birth to. And Saudi Arabia is acting against al-Qaida, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood who once felt at home on Saudi soil.
Distancing themselves from something that threatens their own stability does not mean they are moderates, just pragmatists in an uncomfortably small world.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on August 25 finally got around to condemning “the appalling, widespread and systematic deprivation of human rights in Iraq by ISIL (the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’) and associated forces.
“The violations include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of places of religious and cultural significance, and the besieging of entire communities because of ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation,” said Pillay in a statement.
I’m pleased she took the time to do something other than blast Israel’s “likely war crimes” as it defends itself from other jihadist groups on its border.
Pillay last month showed yet again how astute she is when she criticized the United States for helping to fund the Iron Dome anti-rocket system and noted that “no such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling.” Not a word to blacken the name of Hamas launching the rockets Israel was trying to stop.
By her thinking, the death of little Daniel Tragerman – killed by a mortar shell apparently fired by terrorists based in a Gazan school yard – and of two residents of Kibbutz Nirim, Zeevik Etzion and Shahar Melamed, killed shortly before the latest (last?) cease-fire went into effect, did not go far enough in the quest for even-handed body counts. (It wouldn’t surprise me if Hamas includes as victims of Israel the names of the more than 18 people it publicly executed for allegedly spying for Israel and the two supporters killed by stray bullets fired into the air during the “victory” parade.) A look at the membership of the UN Human Rights Council, which includes such luminaries as Algeria, China, Cuba, Indonesia and Pakistan, might explain why Pillay’s view is so distorted. But perhaps she doesn’t need an excuse.
The current sorry state of world affairs proves beyond reasonable doubt that the UN has utterly failed in its commitment “to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.”
It can’t even understand where it went wrong, although examining how UN facilities in Gaza came to be used as rocket launching pads and weapons depots might give it a belated clue.
Israelis are strong, amazingly strong.
“Resilient” has become the buzzword of this summer when keeping an ear open for the siren became as natural as remembering to drink in the sizzling temperatures. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t traumatized to some extent or another – we’re human, after all, despite what our enemies say. And we find it harder to fight the West’s battles to a chorus of “not in our name.”
The writer is editor of The International Jerusalem Post.