Back in 1983, Bob Dylan released a song called “Neighborhood Bully.” The song was an ironic statement about Israel, beset on all sides by genuine enemies who wish for its extermination, hounded by the United Nations, virtually alone in the community of nations. It is stunning that a nation that is the target of terrorist nation-states, a country that is bombed almost daily by their neighboring countries, is considered the bad guy in much of the world when all they are doing is trying to survive.
The neighborhood bully, he just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully
Preach on, Brother Zimmerman.
The latest example of this is the near universal condemnation of Israel for the incident that took place on a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. The Gaza strip is controlled by the terrorist thugs of Hamas, an “organization” that is devoted to the eradication of Israel and the death of Jews. Both Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza to prevent other nations from supplying arms and ammunition to Hamas. Humanitarian aid, such as medical supplies, clothing, etc. is allowed to go into Gaza through various checkpoints, but any aid is first screened for weapons. As far as Israel is concerned, this is a matter of survival. Even Egypt agrees, since the embargo also includes the Gaza/Egypt border.
So when a ship from Turkey carrying what it claimed was humanitarian aid for Gaza made clear their intention to disregard the blockade, the Israeli military became extremely suspicious. There was no way to know what was on board. Was it food? Medical supplies? Weapons? Those on board the ship refused to cooperate by allowing Israel to come on board and see what was being shipped.
Faced with no real choice, the Israeli military sent a team to board the ship. The men were equipped with pistols as sidearms, but their primary weapons were decidedly non-lethal paintball guns. Still, as the men landed on the ship they were besieged by humanitarians carrying knives, metal rods, chairs and whatever other weapons were handy. The Israeli soldiers were set upon, beaten, and stabbed. One was thrown overboard.
The Israelis responded correctly. In fear for their lives, they laid down the paintball guns and went for their sidearms. Nine of these “humanitarians” were killed in self-defense.
As sure as Niagara falls, the United Nations immediately came out and accused Israel of being the bad guy. The Turkish prime minister described the Israeli action as “inhuman state terror” while the Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erakat was the first anti-Semite on the block to yell “war crime.” Even the Brits are now saying that the blockade is “unacceptable.” Perhaps allowing the free flow of weapons into Gaza would be more in keeping with British notions of political decorum.
The Obama Administration is trying to strike a non-judgemental tone. America “deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries” that occurred in the “tragedy.” But in typical fashion, the Administration is also engaging in the moral equivalence arguments that it loves. P.J. Crowley, a spokesman for the State Department supported an Israeli investigation into the incident, but also called for opening up Gaza to humanitarian aid. Unacknowledged is the fact that Israel already allows any humanitarian aid to go through to Gaza. Crowley did, at least, condemn Hamas for complicating any efforts to give aid to Gaza.
If the Administration can manage to put the moral equivalency nonsense aside and come down strongly in support of Israel, it will go a long way towards repairing the damage the Administration has done to our relationship with the only real friend we have in that region of the world. It will also be an act of genuine political courage from an Administration and a President that has yet to display much of that particular virtue.