Ron Radosh

As Hamas Attacks Israel with Rockets, the Obama Administration and Liberals Call for Israeli 'Restraint'

With hundreds of rockets raining down on Israel on a daily basis, the establishment in the United States tells Israel to show “restraint,” and to work on resuming the failed peace process.

Not only did this position come from the anti-Israel editorial board of the New York Times, as could be expected, but it also came from the spokesman for the Obama administration, White House Middle East chief Philip Gordon, and finally from President Barack Obama himself. The president did his bit to urge restraint in an op-ed he wrote for Israel’s left-wing daily newspaper (where else?), Haaretz.

Let us start with the widely discussed Times editorial. The first thing to notice is the false moral equivalence the editors claim exists between the killing of the three Israeli teens, including one American teenager who had dual Israeli citizenship, and the murder of the Palestinian boy by Israeli fanatics, most likely soccer toughs, supporters of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team known for their hostility to Arabs. Editorializing, the Times reported that “days of near silence” went by before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the killing of the Palestinian boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir.

That story has since been taken down because it was false. Apparently the editors did not read their own reporter’s article, which had clearly stated the falsehood of the claim. CAMERA’s chief in their Jerusalem bureau, Tamar Sternthal, explains:

Netanyahu did not remain silent for days concerning the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. The Israeli prime minister spoke out against the killing of Abu Khdeir from July 2, the very same day of the murder. As The Times’ own Isabel Kershner reported: “On Wednesday, after the body of the Palestinian teenager was found in the woods, the prime minister called on Israelis to obey the law, and asked investigators to quickly look into what he called ‘the abominable murder.’”

Aside from that major error, now corrected due to the diligence of CAMERA, the remainder of the editorial also revealed the Times’ perpetual bias against Israel. First, it emphasized not the widespread Israeli revulsion against the horrific crime against the Palestinian child, and the outpouring of support to the beleaguered family from Israelis, but noted that “some Israelis gave in to their worst prejudices.”

Then, it offered the usual “both sides are to blame” bromide, and stated that “each side dehumanizes the other.” It failed to cite the outpouring of joy both in Gaza and the West Bank over the murder of the three Israeli teenagers, referencing only a phrase about Hamas’ “violence” and an undocumented note of Hamas’ “hateful speech.”

The Times’ editors, of course, ignored a great deal more. Sternthal adds:

While readers are treated to four specific examples of Israelis succumbing to their worst prejudices, The Times does not identify even one single case of recent Palestinian incitement, of which there is no shortage. Palestinians celebrated the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaar and Naphtali Frankel with a social media campaign called “The Three Shalits” which went viral; hateful cartoons in a Palestinian Authority-controlled newspaper and on the Fatah Facebook page; and the distribution of sweets in Gaza. In recent days, Fatah, headed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, warned Israelis to prepare body bags and declared: “We wish for the blood to become rivers.”

Finally, the editorial in the Times was lambasted with irony by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer:

The New York Times gives numerous examples of hate rhetoric on the margins of Israeli society — rhetoric that has been strongly condemned and rejected by Israel’s political leaders. The New York Times writes Palestinians have also been guilty of hate speech, but neglects to mention that Palestinian incitement is government backed, that Palestinian Authority leaders hail terrorists as heroes, name public squares after them and teach schoolchildren to emulate them. For daily dose of government-backed Palestinian incitement, check out – Palestinian Media Watch. No summer interns in the New York Times research department this year?

While the Obama administration and its State Department continually posits Abbas as a partner for peace — indeed the best one Israel has had in decades who can be worked with as a partner — Fatah, the West Bank organization to which Abbas belongs, continually reiterates its unity with Hamas in Gaza in the fight to destroy Israel. As for Hamas, the group which naïve peaceniks believe can also be negotiated with, the IDF posted on its website Hamas’ reiterated goals. In clearly stated speeches, its leadership emphasizes its desire to fight until Israel is destroyed.

As David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel, explains:

Why the need to “resist” an Israel that has no presence in Gaza, and that has long since internalized the imperative to seek an accommodation with the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank if this can only be achieved without imperiling Israel’s own existence? Why? Because, for Hamas, hostility to the very fact of Israel’s existence still far outweighs any and all other interests.

Turning to our president’s own op-ed, Obama begins with the usual reaffirmation of how he and his administration are Israel’s greatest friends and says that he is doing all he can “to ensure that Iran does not ever possess a nuclear weapon.” Then he turns to yet another plea for a “comprehensive negotiated settlement,” when reality on the ground makes it crystal clear that is the last thing the Palestinian leadership — including Abbas and Fatah — wants. Finally, the moral equivalence: “All parties must be willing to take chances for peace.” There is no acknowledgment that while Israel has made clear its continued willingness to do just that, the Palestinian leadership has shown the opposite over and over.

The administration’s real hostility to Israel was most obvious in the remarks of its spokesman, Philip Gordon. What Gordon did in his speech to the so-called peace conference sponsored by Haaretz is praise Mahmoud Abbas as a peace partner at a time when the Hamas government, with which Abbas has signed a unity pact, is raining missiles down on Israel.

Abbas is seeking to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court to hold hearings to condemn Israel for war crimes. At the very same time, he has refused to condemn the wanton bombings of Israeli civilians carried out by his partners in Hamas. Nor has he said anything to contradict those in his own group, Fatah, that praise the unity with Hamas and its pledge to destroy Israel.

For Gordon to shower praise on Abbas at this time while urging restraint from Israel is the mark of ultimate hypocrisy. Moreover, to speak these words at the exact moment that Hamas was hitting Israel with rockets is obscene.

Abbas, rather than being the best hope for a peace partner that Israel has had, has proved to be a leader who cannot even restrain his partners in Hamas, as if he ever even sought that aim. Indeed, as reports indicate, Abbas now has condemned Israel for “genocide” and for emulating Auschwitz.

Ironically, the Haaretz peace conference — which features panels such as one including both Peter Beinart and J-Street chief Jeremy Ben-Ami, stalwart proponents of pressuring Israel who regularly put the blame for failure to attain peace on the Jewish state they purport to defend — suddenly found themselves having to stop in the middle of the proceedings to run to their bomb shelters in Tel Aviv. As Max Fisher reports:

It was a coincidence, yes; the rockets are barely accurate enough to be aimed at a single city, let alone a single building holding an Israel-Palestine peace conference, and no one was hurt. But it is a moment of profoundly tragic symbolism, exceptional even in a conflict that produces many such moments, that a Palestinian militant group with the desire of ending the Israeli occupation would fire rockets at Israeli civilians who had themselves gathered with the express purpose of ending the occupation.

This reporter, himself part of the delusional Israeli far-left wing, could not resist pointing out the obvious, although he does not seem to comprehend that to Hamas and Fatah, there is no difference between a peacenik Israeli on the left end of the political spectrum and any other Israeli. All are citizens of a state which in their eyes is completely illegitimate.

So Hamas continues to fight Israel with more rockets, and as Israel defends itself, we can expect more and more comments urging Israel to withdraw, condemning Israel for harming innocent Palestinian civilians, and urging Israel to make a real commitment to peace. Moral equivalence is the starting point for condemning Israel for sole guilt for the crisis in the Middle East.