Growing up in a liberal, Jewish household in the US in the 1960s my parents marched for civil-rights, rallied for ecology and protested against the war in Vietnam. As for the latter, I was taught, like many youngsters, that violence and war were not the answer. But, having come home from Hebrew school one afternoon, I questioned why that didn’t apply to The Six-Day War. I was told, “when it came to Israel – well, that was different. They were fighting for their lives.”
My parents were of The Greatest Generation and understood what fighting for their lives meant. Yet today, many from the Vietnam era always see war from a very different side, one where it’s to be shunned and stopped - no matter what.
For many liberals in the US, they still see the world and the US’s role in it, through the lens of Vietnam and as a nation imperialistically inserting itself into conflicts half-a-world away. In any war we support, they automatically, in knee-jerk style, see a government that lied to them and was the aggressor, pillaging a whole society. Therefore, all war must be bad.
It hasn’t helped Israel that this same outlook has dominated most newsrooms making the media complicit in transforming the perception of Israel from a David, defending itself in ‘67 into the aggressor or Goliath in practically every ensuing conflict. The idea that “Israel is different” doesn’t jive with this anti-war crowd.
But Israel’s history is not America’s and after so many wars for survival, Israel could no longer be the little weakling everyone in the neighborhood bullied. All it would take was one defeat. So, it got strong—really strong. The result has been that in every conflict, starting in the 1980s when Israel entered into Lebanon, Israel has been branded the aggressor by the liberal media. And we’re seeing that same phenomenon again today with Operation Protective Edge.
America’s misadventure in Iraq and the hunt for WMDs re-instilled and re-enforced, on a whole new level, a high degree of mistrust Americans had towards their government sending them off to war.
While the first war in Iraq may have gone a long way in curing “Vietnam syndrome”, the malady only lay latent and the second war revived it. Many Americans hence project onto any conflict the mantra – Give Peace A Chance.
The problem is that that perception, can’t always apply - especially when an enemy wants to kill you and keeps trying to kill you everyday shooting missiles in your direction and terrorizing you.
Yes, peace would be great and the irony is that Israel wants peace. That’s all it’s ever wanted. And we’d have peace – if they stopped shooting missiles.
In Vietnam, America wasn’t under constant bombardment and maybe if it had been, imagine, the world would see things as Israel does today.
Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at abebuzz.com.