In Praise of Disproportionality (Extract)

Extract of an article in Issue 25, March 31, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. Sderot and the Gaza perimeter were savagely bombarded in the week that comrade Duch, a Khmer Rouge mass murderer, was compelled as part of his trial to confront the "killing fields," where he perpetrated his infamous work in the 1970s. This juxtaposition reminded me of a visit to the United States in 1970 by Menachem Begin, who had just quit a Labor-led national unity government for the oppositional wilderness. He left the government because then-prime minister Golda Meir had implicitly accepted the Rogers Plan that called for Israeli withdrawal to the pre-Six Day war boundaries with minor rectifications. In New York, I heard Begin warn about the "Phnom-Penhization" of Israel if it were foolish enough to retreat to its narrow, pre-1967 borders. The Khmer Rouge at the time was mercilessly bombarding the Cambodian capital and the prevailing sentiment was that defending it was a lost cause. The feeling in Washington was that it would be best to stop the bloodshed by acknowledging the Khmer Rouge victory. Phnom Penh duly fell and Duch and the killing fields followed shortly. Begin's point was that if Israeli cities were subjected to incessant bombardment from outside its narrow borders and began to resemble Phnom Penh, it too would be given up as a lost cause. Unfortunately, this warning has not been heeded, and Israeli leaders have profligately divested themselves of areas that afforded Israel security and represented the touchstone of her historical legitimacy. Sderot and the Gaza perimeter became Phnom Penhs and they have been joined by Ashkelon. Hamas warned residents of Sderot to leave and even Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's peace partner, was impressed by Hamas's success. In an interview to the Jordanian newspaper ad-Dustour, he opined that while the armed struggle was currently inappropriate, it could be resumed at a later stage (presumably once he has pocketed the territorial concessions). Olmert's spinners had a ready answer; Abbas was merely speaking for domestic consumption. As they say in Yiddish, the teyrutz (explanation) is worse than the frage (question). If such is the tenor of Palestinian domestic opinion that Abbas must appease, what peace process are we talking about? Israel's attempts to stop the missile fire with either non-lethal means such as a partial fuel embargo or by targeted attacks on the direct perpetrators have elicited the usual calls for restraint as well as condemnations of Israel's disproportionate response. Brett Stephens in the Wall Street Journal did a great job of debunking the intellectual dishonesty in the insistence upon proportionality. But Stephens didn't go far enough. The moral posturing is not merely holier-than-thou hypocrisy by bleeding hearts, but a malevolent design to secure Israel's downfall. Contributing editor Amiel Ungar is a columnist for the Makor Rishon daily and the national religious monthly Nekuda. Extract of an article in Issue 25, March 31, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.