It’s hard to tell what’s happening in the battle against the Islamic State or ISIL, as the administration insists on calling it. (They seem to have spent as much time deciding which acronym to use as how to fight the terror organization/state.) As I write, the Daily Mail reports ISIS toe-to-toe with Kurdish fighters in Kobane with Turkey (not surprisingly) refusing to step in. U.S. — or should I say coalition — bombings continue.
But we don’t know much — hardly anything about the bombing, who was hit, how much damage, collateral or otherwise, occurred. Have there been civilian casualties? How many?
Compare this to a few weeks ago and the non-stop coverage of the Gaza War. Almost every day we had reports on the supposedly huge civilian toll from Israeli attacks coupled with admonishment from State Department porte-paroles Jen Psaki and Marie Harf that Israel should restrain itself, implying, of course, that the Jewish state was being excessive in defending itself against Hamas. Psaki, Harf and others repeatedly warned Israel that they were harming too many “innocent” civilians even though those civilians had been put there as human shields by their terrorist adversaries. Death and wounded statistics provided by Hamas and then parroted by the UN were almost always accepted at face value by the mouth pieces of our government.
Barack Obama gets no such treatment. Weeks into the bombing of ISIL, we know next to nothing. The reportage is vague at best. Some, like the left-wing UK Independent, say Obama’s strategy has been a fiasco. Who knows? Unlike Hamas, which has always exploited human shields to the hilt for propaganda purposes, ISIL prefers to keep reporters out (or slice their heads off) and employ social media for publicity and recruitment purposes. But still the bombs fall and innocents and not-so-innocents die or get maimed for life.
So why does the State Department blame Israel for using excessive force, even though the IDF appears to make even more effort than the U.S. Army or Air Force to avoid civilian casualties? Why does it judge Israel by a different standard from the U.S. — or anybody, for that matter?
Answering that question is not pleasant for me. Back when I was a high school kid, I used to hear, off to the side, that the State Department was anti-Semitic. I tried to ignore it. I was always a patriotic American and didn’t want to hear that my own government would be like that. There were bad politicians, sure, but not such horrible institutional bigotry. That was a thing of the past.
I was wrong. The anti-Semitism is entrenched in a way that even, maybe especially, the principals themselves do not understand. I’m sure young women like Harf and Psaki have had plenty of Jewish friends growing up. After all, even their boss Secretary Kerry has Jewish blood, although he only realized that late in life from a newspaper report while running for public office. (No comment.)
It’s easier (safer) to attack the Jewish state, which is democratic and often wildly self-critical itself, than it is to be honest with totalitarian nations that are truly dangerous. And when you criticize Israel, to justify your behavior to yourself, you then have to make yourself believe something is genuinely wrong with it, just as wrong as the Middle Eastern countries that surround it where torture, misogyny and murder are commonplace. This is the process that goes on in our State Department and administration and has for a long time. It’s a kind of low-rent version of the old saying “Europe will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.”
Indeed something is wrong. We live in a world where Turkey, not Israel, is a member of NATO. How odd is that — the perpetrator of a genocide preferred over the victim of one? Now reports are coming out of Cairo on the Gaza donor conference. Qatar has pledged a billion dollars in reconstruction. Overall 5.4 billion has been pledged. Who will make sure it doesn’t go for more weapons and tunnel? The UN? The State Department?
The beat goes on.