Peter Beinart’s opinion piece in the Forward entitled “American Jews Have Abandoned Gaza — And The Truth” is what lawyers call “disingenuous” because, contrary to what is required of witnesses in a court of law, it does not tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.
One should be wary of accepting UNSCO’s assertion that “Gaza will be ‘unlivable’ by 2020, maybe sooner”. It is an exaggeration. People are not dying there of hunger and thirst like they are in many parts of Africa. However, the UN is well-known for its anti-Israel bias, so we should not be too surprised by this kind of hyperbole.
Beinart states that “Israeli policies are instrumental in denying Gaza’s people the water, electricity, education and food they need to live decent lives”. The facts are not that simple.
To take just two examples: Over the last eight years over 52 million cubic meters of water have been supplied annually to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and 5 million cubic meters of water to the Gaza Strip. This amount is nearly twice the amount agreed to in the Oslo Accords. Since 2015 the amount of water supplied to the Gaza Strip has been doubled to 10 million cubic meters per annum.
The lack of electricity in Gaza results from a variety of causes in part resulting from a dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over meeting the cost. In 2017 Egypt offered to supply electricity to Gaza in exchange for the extradition of 17 wanted terrorists and other security demands. Hamas refused.
In terms of education, what has Beinart to say about Palestinian textbooks issued to children that show a Palestinian state extending from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan without even a mention of Israel or of Tel Aviv?
Beinart writes: “Israel still controls Gaza. It controls it in the way a prison guard might control a prison courtyard”. Did he ever ask himself why? Hardly a day passes without attempts by terrorists to infiltrate Israel to strike at its civilian population and without weapons and other military equipment being discovered in seemingly harmless supplies of goods intended to reach those living in the Gaza Strip.
Customs personal at the Port of Ashdod recently uncovered a shipment from China that included military clothing and combat vests, all in camouflage colours.
The merchant ship “Karine A” was intercepted carrying a cargo that included 122 mm and 107 mm Katyusha rockets, 80 mm and 120 mm mortar shells, anti-tank missiles, anti-tank mines and Kalashnikov rifles. The intention was to transfer the weapons to the Palestinian Naval Police near the Gaza beaches.
And Beinart complains that Israel has not permitted the re-opening of Gaza’s airport or travel to and from Gaza by sea! Who in their right mind would agree to open borders given that background?
He states furthermore that “in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014 — Israeli bombing damaged roughly 240,000 Gazan homes.”
Making such an assertion without providing any context is like saying that the Allies pounded Berlin with 67,607 tonnes of TNT resulting in the destruction of 80% of the city centre.
Beinart seems to have forgotten Hamas’ rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza on Israel’s civilian population. Between 2004 and 2014 these attacks killed nearly 50 people and injured more than 1,900. Medical studies in Sderot, the Israeli city closest to the Gaza Strip, have documented a post-traumatic stress disorder incidence among young children of almost 50%, as well as high rates of depression and miscarriage.
Reading what Beinart has to say, one would have thought that Israel was living alongside a harmless neighbor not intent upon her destruction. He seems to have forgotten that we are at war.
Hamas has constructed a network of military tunnels extending into Israel. The IDF reports that is has “neutralized” no less than 14 tunnels, whose sole purpose was to enable terrorists to attack Israel’s civilian population and take hostages. People have reported hearing the sound of tunneling under their very homes!
With all of his criticism of Israel, there is one word that is strangely absent: that is, Iran. What is happening in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere takes place in a context that extends well beyond Israel’s borders. Hamas and the Hezbollah are involved in a proxy war against Israel financed by Iran, which has now extended its tentacles into war-stricken Syria, where it has established no less than 10 bases, 2 close to Israel’s border.
None of what I have written is to claim that Israel is an innocent bystander. She too shares her share of responsibility for the tragic plight of the Palestinians. However, Israel’s leaders have demonstrated that they are prepared to sign treaties with their neighbours when they are interested in making peace. We did it with Egypt and with Jordan. All we need is a Palestinian leadership that, like Menachem Begin, is prepared to proclaim “No more war, no more bloodshed, no more attacks”.
It is so easy to criticize Israel, but the Palestinians bear their fair share of blame. Where are the Beinarts who are prepared to tell them so to their face in the stern language that they reserve for Israel?
Beinart concludes his opinion piece by stating that “The struggle for human decency, Orwell argued, is also a struggle for honest language”. Honest language requires that those who criticize Israel tell the whole story.