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There are only two things a nation can always depend on, good or bad: its people and its history.
Except, of course, in the case of Israel.
No other country has devoted its entire history to defending against its enemies and, even more absurdly, asserting its very right to exist. For such an otherwise tiny nation - a democracy with little in the way of natural or strategic resources - Israel has surely received a disproportionate share of global condemnation.
Just imagine if France, England or Iceland or, heaven forbid, rogue nations like Syria and Iran, had spent its entire existence justifying its nationhood. No respites or shifts in sympathy - nothing but global denunciations around the clock.
With Israel the situation is actually even worse. The Jewish state has repeatedly been denied its history - as brief as these past 60 years have been. Israel's back-story is instantaneously forgotten as soon as the events take place. Whenever the rest of the world judges Israel, which is quite often, the factual record of the Middle East is deemed irrelevant to the present moment. A new line gets drawn and past history is erased.
Nothing that happens to Israel can serve as justification for what it must to do in response. What every other nation would legitimately regard as its sovereign right and duty if ever placed in the same situation is routinely denied to the Jewish state. The three wars initiated against it, the threats of annihilation from its neighbors, the suicide bombers that have invaded its buses, pizza shops and Passover Seders, the kidnapping and mutilation of its soldiers and, most recently, the rocket attacks launched by Hamas during a purported cease-fire all totally vanish like a Middle Eastern mirage, as if these murderous events never happened.
The twisted absurdity of this dilemma - the whitewashing of Palestinian crimes in order to cast Israel as the aggressor and undermine its moral authority - is that Israel lives in a perpetual state of Groundhog Day. Each day begins anew, disconnected from the day before, and yet bizarrely repeated. Israel stands isolated, its actions unprovoked and without context.
WE'VE ALL seen this movie: Israel is the occupier; the reasons for the occupation are ignored. Israel fires missiles, launches ground attacks, seals borders and erects walls. Israel's military incursions have resulted in the tragic loss of civilian lives. Hamas men are not terrorists, but peace lovers, tragically misunderstood humanists and humanitarians. In this false parallel universe, the Jewish dead are never remembered as having once been alive.
The fact that the Palestinian people, historically, have demonstrated little interest in nation building and an extreme fondness for terrorist activities has, outrageously, been left out of the grand narrative of the Middle East.
Without historical background and an honest retelling of events, and subject to such a patently hypocritical double standard, Israel is an easy and convenient target for condemnation whenever it acts in retaliation for the loss of Jewish life.
In this frustrating and enduring game of bait and switch, Israel is always left holding the body bags.
Retaliation is a legally and morally necessary response to lethal provocation. It's not possible to have one without the other unless a country has no interest in its future and there is no pride in its people.
IT'S QUITE simple: Without rocket attacks from Hamas, Israeli soldiers wouldn't be in Gaza right now. Israel happily abandoned Gaza several years ago. If Israeli citizens were safe from Hamas and Hizbullah instead of being its victims, Israel would have no reason to hunt down and disable these terrorist operations, and no innocent Palestinian or Lebanese would lose his life as a shield for terrorist murder.
The moral disequilibrium that the world applies to the Middle East is that all Jewish life is dispensable and undeserving of tears. Palestinian deaths, meanwhile, are tragic and senseless beyond dimension.
All death is tragic, and each country's history - the back-story behind its nationhood, survival instincts and collective grief - must be respected and valued equally. Indeed, one of the reasons why Israelis have embraced the reality of a Palestinian state is, in part, because there has been an evolving awareness of Palestinian pain and historical legitimacy.
When will Palestinians, and a good many nations of the world, grant Israel the same courtesy?
The writer is an American novelist, essayist and law professor. He is the author of The Golems of Gotham and The Myth of Moral Justice.
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