Urging ‘Restraint’ and Other Anti-Israel Mischief
There is a long history of anti-Israel bias among many in the Western world. This has led Palestinian leaders to conclude that provocations against Israel can be productive, because they have important public relations value. Such action often leads to condemnations from sources like the United Nations, Arab countries, the European Union, NGOs, as well as some Jewish organizations. These reactions then provide a further incentive for more Palestinian provocations.
The recent Hamas-conducted “March of Return” protests along the Gaza border were not peaceful. They included rock throwing, Molotov cocktails, and shooting at IDF soldiers. There were also repeated attempts by Palestinians to cross the Israeli border in order to launch violent attacks on Israelis. Eleven of the first Palestinian casualties in the protests were proven to be terrorists, including those from Hamas.
During the second march, there was new violence, including the burning of what may have been 10,000 tires. There were also further attempts to both attack IDF soldiers and infiltrate Israel under the resulting smokescreen. Since then, burning kites have been launched against the Jewish state. But these kites are far from innocent; at least one had a firebomb attached to it.
Many Western anti-Israel statements were issued after Israel responded to this rampant Palestinian violence. A number of these statements were of four types. On the surface, they seem reasonable. But even superficial analysis shows that all of these kinds of statements involve hypocrisy and bias. A few examples will illustrate this.
The first type of statement claims that Palestinians are entitled to demonstrate peacefully, suggesting that Israel was trying to stop the Gazans from doing so. Those who made this statement knew the truth: the demonstrations were not peaceful, and included violent attempts to breach the border with Israel. Among those whose statements stressed the Palestinian right to “peaceful demonstrations” were the European Union, France, US senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and J Street.
The second type consisted of calling for “restraint.” This came in two versions: either calling for Israeli restraint alone, or calling for restraint from both Israel and Hamas — thereby equating the two. Statements about restraint on both sides were made by the EU, the deputy prime minister of Ireland, J Street, and Russia. Other statements that addressed only Israel came from France, Senator Warren, and the head of the Union of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs.
As far as armies go, the Israeli army is probably the most codified and restrained army which has ever existed on the planet. Amos Guiora, a professor at the University of Utah, has described the many codes that the Israeli army follows concerning morality and ethics in combat. It is doubtful whether anything similar exists elsewhere. These codes have been praised by several Western armies.
The third type of statement includes asking for an independent investigation of the events in question. Here we find the EU in the company of the deputy prime minister of Ireland and Kuwait. Those who make this claim know full well that the logical candidates for such pseudo-independent investigations are United Nations associate bodies. The best known such investigation was the report by the Goldstone committee, which was so extremely distorted that in 2011 editors Gerald Steinberg and Anne Herzberg were able to publish an entire book about its massive bias.
The fourth type of statement concerns the proportionality of Israeli actions. This implies that Israel’s actions are not proportionate. Here we find the EU and France, along with Iran, Turkey, and Russia.
There were also other Western statements. For instance, the long-time anti-Israel inciter Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour party, asked for a review of his country’s arms sales to Israel.
These kinds of Western reactions will stimulate further Hamas-initiated violent demonstrations, as the organization hopes to solicit more anti-Israel reactions. Those Westerners who make these declarations may claim that incentivizing Hamas is not their intention — but that is immaterial. They should have learned from history that they contribute to causing more Palestinian violence and more Palestinian casualties.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the Emeritus Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank. The author was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.