THE GAZA issue underscores legal and perceptual problems which democratic societies have with terrorist groups.
By ZAMAN SHOVAL
Last week, 54 members of the US House of Representatives, including such long-time opponents of Israel as Jim McDermott of Washington and Keith Ellison from Minnesota (both Democrats), signed a letter asking President Barack Obama to pressure Israel to “ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip.” The 54 congressmen asked the president to “press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza, to ease the movement of people in and out of Gaza and also to allow the import of building materials.”Ellison, America’s first Muslim member of the House, had previously criticized the congressional resolution to reject the notorious Goldstone Report which Alan Dershowitz has rightly labeled “a defamation written by an evil man,” comparing it to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.One may assume that some of the signatories, perhaps ignorant of the facts, were indeed motivated by a genuine concern for the lot of people living in Gaza, but most were clearly prompted by their antagonism toward Israel. Not only that by no objective judgment could the majority of the population in Gaza be held totally noncomplicit in, or at least unaware of, Hamas’s terrorist activities against Israeli civilians. Nor is it a secret that Gaza is still ruled by an organization which denies Israel’s very right to exist and is actively engaged in planning terrorist activities even as I write this article.But on a practical level, it is hard to believe that the initiators of this appeal do not realize that “movement of people in and out of Gaza” means allowing the movement of terrorists into Israel, as well as into Egypt or Jordan. Is is it just ignorance which turns their minds away from the plausibility that at least some of the “building materials” imported into Gaza would be used not for rebuilding civilian houses, but for restoring the Hamas infrastructure?THE GAZA issue underscores the legal and perceptual problems which democratic societies have with terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaida and the Taliban, which use civilians as human shields for their nefarious activities. What happens in Gaza is indeed collective punishment – not by Israel, but by Hamas.This or similar letters are not going to dent the solid support for the State of Israel and its security, nor is it going to overly influence Obama, who only this week called Israel America’s best ally in the Middle East, adding that “every day the sun rises on the Jewish state of Israel is the ultimate rebuke to the ignorance and hatred of this place.”In fact, he is increasingly forced to recognize that both in terms of domestic and external policy, the extreme left-wing elements in his Democratic party, which include most of those calling for “pressure” on Israel, are rapidly becoming a political albatross.All of which brings us to the Jewish organization called J Street which pretends to be a supporter of Israel. We would not waste paper and ink on the group had it not transpired that in addition to the above 54 members of Congress, J Street also put its signature on the letter. Perhaps this should surprise nobody – after all, at their conference last year, there were two participants who had previously compared the suffering of Holocaust victims to that of Palestinians in the “territories,” and several J Street activists on campuses across the US had proposed doing away with the official “pro-Israel” part of the organization, giving equal billing to “pro-Palestinian.” As one functionary explained it, “to us, being pro-Israel is intertwined with being pro-Palestinian...”No less perverse was the group’s opposition to sanctions on Iran.Some people in the US administration had initially looked with favor upon the activities of J Street, mistakenly believing its views might be helpful in moving the peace process forward. No longer. J Street, by adding its signature to the Gaza letter, has again shown its true face.The writer is the former Israel Ambassador to the US, and currently heads the Prime Minister's forum of US-Israel Relations.
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