Writing on Commentary’s website yesterday, Prof. Eugene Kontorovich denounces the Obama administration’s double standard in cutting off flights to Israel:
Ben Gurion remains an extremely safe airport. The FAA had many various measures short of a flight ban, like warnings, that it could have imposed. The FAA only warns airlines about flying to Afghanistan; it does not ban them. And the FAA move comes the day after a general State Department warning about Israel–though far more people were killed in Chicago on Fourth of July weekend than in the Jewish state since the start of the Gaza campaign.
Whatever the intent, the administration has cornered Israel in a booby-trapped tunnel, with Hamas on one side, and economic perdition on the other.
Israeli authorities denounced the decision as a “prize for Hamas” and completely unjustified.
Most (but not all) Western European carriers followed the FAA’s example — but not the airlines of the former Soviet empire. According to the departures board at Ben Gurion Airport, normal service continues from most of the Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Czech, Georgian, Hungarian and Byelorussian Airlines, as well as Air Vietnam. Aeroflot and Transaero planes turned back to Moscow after the ban was announced but their flights today remain on the screen. British Airways is still flying to Israel. As Edward Luttwak observed, there are 39 direct flights from Israel to former constituents of the Communist world vs. 5 to the United States.
Since when does Israel get a fairer deal from the former Communist world than from the United States of America? This is the world turned inside-out. Where is the outcry from American Jewish organizations? To his credit, former mayor Michael Bloomberg ridiculed the administration and boarded a flight to Tel Aviv forthwith. But where is the wave of organized protest?
It’s well and good that the U.S. put $700 million into the development of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, as Daniel Gordis noted in a column this week in The Times of Israel. Israelis point out that this is rounding error in the country’s $300 billion national budget. Yesterday’s flight ban, by contrast, was the most destructive action that the US has taken towards Israel since the Truman administration imposed an arms embargo during the War of Independence. It encourages Hamas to keep firing rockets when the Obama administration supposedly is working for a ceasefire.
The silence here is deafening.
Related: “Can Israel Finish the Job Now?” Michael Walsh responds to David Goldman.