Israelis — who are addicted to news reports, for obvious reasons — understand these facts along with those reporters and pundits who are neutral and intellectually honest. So I can understand the frustrations that Israelis feel when they endure the international condemnations that occur whenever they strike Gaza or southern Lebanon in self-defense.
When Israel launched the Gaza War in late 2008, I was relaxing with friends in an Israeli pub. A few days later, a friend of mine was there and reading an Israeli newspaper with reports and pictures of anti-Israel demonstrations in nearly every European capital in response to the war. She was on the verge of tears. “Why does everyone always hate us?” she asked me. I did not have a good answer at the time.
Now, I may have a reason. As I mentioned above, politics today has become hyper-partisan. People increasingly align themselves with the left or right “camp” and adopt the same, homogeneous worldviews. If you are on the left, you must hate Israel, Christianity, guns, religion, and corporations. If you are on the right, you must hate Europeans, environmental regulations, evolution, universities, and Islam. (See: “A Centrists Party: Why There is a Need Today” and “Understanding Politics and Partisanship.”) And Europeans tend to more on the left than average.
However, it also comes down to journalism and the news judgments that editors and producers make. If Hamas fires a few rockets into Israel one day, it will be a short brief on page A47 of the New York Times — if it appears at all. If Hamas launches a couple more the following day, it will be even less significant because it is no longer “news.” After a few years of these events, people in the West will forget about it completely — even though Israelis live with the reality every day. From 2001 to 2009, more than 8,600 rockets were fired into Israel, a country that is the size of New Jersey. But only those who follow the Middle East intensely will realize this fact.
And when Israel finally responds to the constant rocket-fire one day with a large-scale barrage on missile-launch sites throughout the Gaza Strip, it will suddenly be on the front page and nightly news in every country in the world. As a result, the operation will be perceived to have come out of nowhere to everyone who had not been aware of the daily rocket-fire from Hamas (as in, most people) — and Israel will be viewed as the aggressor. Hence the protests in Europe.
But, as the facts show, Israel is the side that always has the moral high-ground and operates in accordance with Just War principles in its conflict with Hamas. The situation with the terrorist group will end only when the organization recognizes the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state (though its eventual borders as far as the so-called 1967 lines have yet to be determined) that people can visit on Jewish-Israel tours and vacations in Israel.
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