It’s Not About ‘Power Imbalances,’ AOC; It’s About Our Power to Survive
While Israel fends off thousands of terrorist rockets, the Jewish Diaspora finds itself fending off rhetorical rockets.
The substantively empty chants and slogans are too many to deal with in one article. Instead, I’ll focus on just one — the idea that it is somehow morally imperative (as opposed to morally repugnant) to take Hamas’ side, or that we shouldn’t even consider the Israeli side, because of the so-called “power imbalance.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — known as AOC — provides a good example. Several days ago, she said: “This isn’t about both sides. It’s about an imbalance of power.”
It’s worth remembering that this is the same person who, after being exposed under questioning as clueless about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, admitted, “I am not the expert in geopolitics on this issue.”
It’s also worth bringing up the history of geopolitics on the issue to explain why the argument is so absurd. Set aside that a “power imbalance” has never seemed to matter in any other conflict. No one raised that concern in the conflict between the US and the Taliban, the international coalition against ISIS, or NATO and Serbia.
Further set aside that I struggle to find anything in international or domestic law that would suggest self-defense is only acceptable if the person trying to kill you has access to equal weaponry.
In 1973, during the holiest Jewish day of the year, Yom Kippur, the surrounding Arab armies launched a surprise attack against Israel. The Soviet Union, then a world superpower, had supplied those Arab armies with massive amounts of modern military equipment and supplies. Worse, thousands of Soviet personnel were taking a direct part in the operation, even participating in the fighting themselves.
Any Israeli alive at the time can tell you of those dark days, as the Arab armies advanced on an unprepared Israel. The Jewish State was outnumbered and outgunned. The prospect of US aid was days away, and it would certainly not arrive in any helpful volume before Israel alone would need to find a way to turn the tide of this desperate battle.
Yet, the world stood silent as Israel faced the prospect of annihilation yet again.
Speaking after the war had ended and Israel had emerged victorious, Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah delivered one of the most memorable Israeli speeches, tearing into the UN for its inaction while Israel fought desperately for its survival.
Expressing Israel’s collective rage at the world for abandoning the Jewish State once again, he told them:
When Egypt and Syria launched their aggression on 6 October, the Security Council took no action to stop their renewed bloodshed. When, on the initiative of the United States, the Council was convened in the evening of 8 October, after almost three days of sanguinary fighting, it took no decision to call for an end to the hostilities. The Council remained silent when Israeli towns and hamlets were bombarded by deadly missiles. It appeared unconcerned when innocent Jewish villagers were being strafed and murdered by Syrian aircraft. When Egyptian and Syrian military forces, joined by the armies of eight other Arab States, continued to kill and to deal one blow after another to peace, to world security, to the Charter of the United Nations, the Council remained passive and seemed uninterested.
It was only after two weeks, when Israel had decisively repelled the Arab armies and thwarted their destructive designs, that the supporters and accomplices of Arab aggression in the Security Council sprang to action. It was only on 21 October, when the forces of aggression were on the verge of collapse, that there was suddenly dynamism and agility in the Council to save them, if necessary by a cease-fire … The Security Council was called into special meetings to deliver the defeated Egyptian forces from encirclement … Never in history has there been such a spectacle of concern for those who have displayed no concern whatever for the world, its hopes and prayers. Never have humanitarian values been so sacrilegiously invoked in the service of those who have trampled all humanitarian principles into dust.
Tekoah’s words remind us 48 years later of an important lesson.
Whether Israel strikes back at terrorists trying to murder our children, or miraculously pushes back entire armies trying to murder us as a nation, it will be condemned. It will be condemned because it’s not the imbalance of power that upsets them. It is the Jewish power of survival that enrages them. For that, I will not apologize, AOC.
David M. Litman is a lawyer and an advocate for Israel and human rights.