It’s all happened before.
Israel has made airstrikes against terrorists before, and it has sent troops into Gaza before, as well.
The reason it has done so, now as before, is the same: Hamas has launched hundreds of rockets from Gaza into Israel, using Palestinian citizens as human shields. All of it has a sameness to it. The rocket attacks, the counter-attacks, the troops massing at Gaza’s borders.
What is different this time, perhaps, is what is happening – or, to be precise, not happening – elsewhere. That is, precious few seem to be clamouring to defend Israel.
Some Jews, some Israelis, will say that is nothing new. When Israel is under attack, when its citizens are being killed, few in the outside ever rush to Israel’s side. To be sure, there are some, like Canada’s Stephen Harper, who make strong declarations of support. But beyond high-sounding words, there is little.
It is amazing, when you think about it. Imagine being in your home – in Calgary or Winnipeg or Ottawa – and your kids are playing in the backyard, and you are mowing the front lawn, and missiles suddenly start to land on your street. Imagine that. Missiles like the ones that Hamas now favours – Syrian-made M-302 Khalbars, which have a range of at least 100 kilometres.
The Khalbars have warheads which can hold nearly 200 kilograms of high explosives, and are five metres long. They’re not exceptionally accurate, but they could wipe out your house, and several of your neighbour’s houses. They’d kill everyone on your street, pretty much.
So, when hundreds of such missiles are landing in neighborhoods in Israel, no fair-minded person would deny Israel the right to respond. No reasonable person would demand that Israel do nothing, right?
So where, then, are the other voices in the West, loudly defending Israel’s right to safe and secure borders? Why have they grown more silent than in the past?
In my view – in my experience – it is not because of Israel, per se, but because of Israel’s supposed defenders in places like Canada. It is the leaders of these groups who have catastrophically mismanaged Israel’s reputation in the West. It is these highly-paid lobbyists who have actually let Israel down in times of need.
Personally, I have in the past been a member of the board to the (now defunct) Canada Israel Committee, and legal advisor to the (also defunct) Canadian Jewish Congress. I was always very proud to support Israel, and to raise my voice to defend Israel’s right to a secure homeland.
Some years ago, however, I learned of plans to send two white supremacists on an expenses-paid junket to Israel. I wrote a personal letter to the head of the CIC to object. His response? To leak the letter to the media, and to permit the junket to go ahead.
I thereafter severed all links with pro-Israel groups, and I haven’t been back. Several other progressive pro-Israel advocates – some of them with decades of tireless commitment to Israel, most of then Jewish – experienced similar shunning.
Some will say good riddance, of course. They will say Israel’s best friends are conservatives, and Conservatives are the government in Canada. Who needs progressives?
I say: Israel does. It needs everyone, Right and Left. On those days when Khalbar rockets are raining down on schoolyards in Israel – and when little, if anything, is being said in progressive circles in the West – it now doesn’t seem like it was avery good strategy, does it? It didn’t have to be this way, at all.
All that is happening in Israel and Gaza has happened before. What is new, in comparative terms, is what is happening elsewhere. Which is, mostly: