Physical Violence and the Violence of Words: Israel’s Wars Against Hamas
In Israel’s neighborhood, sticks, stones, and name calling are adult problems. The old children’s adage says that the first two are dangerous, but argues incorrectly that “words will never harm me.” Name calling always causes psychological pain, and in the adult international world, it can cause military, political, and economic hardships.
The latest attempts by pugnacious gangs in the Judaea-Samaria/West Bank area and by the terrorist Islamists of Gaza to destroy Israel with violence have failed, whether the current cease-fire holds or not. Though every injury and every life taken is a grave loss in the Jewish State, Israel’s well prepared police and Defense Forces prevented any wide-scale catastrophe.
Sticks and stones in the form of rockets and mortars fired at Israel’s communities by Hamas and its allied terrorists in Gaza were another matter. The Islamists launched those rockets with genocidal intent. Iron Dome intercepted 90% of the rockets headed for population centers, staving off mass murder. Laser systems of defense against mortars are under development, but mortars are for now more dangerous. The number of lives lost in mortar attacks was kept small by the existence of reinforced rooms, bomb shelters, and the possibility of temporarily moving to areas out of range. Thus, Hamas was defeated on the battlefields of Gaza and over the would-be battlefields of Israel’s population centers.
Names are what’s left. Jealousy, inherited hatreds, the Internet’s capacity to be used for public relations and the misguided sense of some Western leaders and many Western news outlets that they should always be open to both sides of an argument have temporarily helped Hamas besmirch Israel with words. Pictures of inevitable civilian casualties in Gaza and raw numbers from the battlefields have helped the Hamas cause. Its misfired rockets and mortar blasts have killed many residents of Gaza, and its paranoid need to place blame for Israel’s successful attacks on terrorists led to the execution by Hamas of dozens of Gaza residents, who were called “collaborators.”
Beyond those numbers, by hiding behind civilians and using schools, mosques, hospitals, and densely populated neighborhoods to make, store, and shoot weapons from, the Islamist terrorists have managed to get large numbers of Arabs killed.
Israel’s successful defense against rockets has been deemed unjust by cynical advocates and published by naive supporters of “even handedness,” who want to display multiple points of view. Indeed, they are points of view, but not legitimate ones. They have been mounted by Israel-haters that control the General Assembly of the United Nations. They have perversely infected committees and investigating bodies appointed by that General Assembly. They energize one set of Israel haters, and they are supported by neo-Nazis and other anti-Semites.
Compared to sticks and stones, hateful name-calling doesn’t count for much – but only by comparison. Hateful but well-aimed words, do harm. Nations that sell military hardware to Israel can be moved by words to shelve the deals. Inane well-intentioned groups can join haters calling for boycotts.
Some arguments against Israel are so outrageously biased that they should be exposed immediately. Yasmina Haifi, an official with the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism in the Netherlands, for example, tweeted that the Al Qaeda spinoff called the Islamic State is an Israeli creation designed to put Islam in disrepute. A quick denunciation followed. But understand, she was trying to rewrite history with words.
The idea that history begins with facts and then moves on to theories about why things happened that way is not universal. After 9/11, with New York’s Twin Towers destroyed, the Pentagon damaged, and thousands of innocent lives lost, many people accused America and Israel of fomenting the disasters to give Muslims a bad name.
Western history seeks to understand what we face in life. But Haifi’s kind aspire to rewrite history in support of their beliefs. Arab states have declared themselves victorious after every war they lost to Israel. Indeed, Hamas is now declaring itself to be victorious, despite the clear facts on the ground.
Israel correctly ignores such drivel. But others will not. Words matter.