The Israel Enigma

Victor Davis Hanson writes brilliantly in The Israel Enigma. An excerpt:

Since Israeli settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Palestinian terrorists have replied by consistently shooting rockets at civilian targets inside Israel. Just recently, they’ve kidnapped a soldier and a hitchhiker (who has been killed) – and promised to do the same to others.

You’d expect these terrorist attacks on Israel to be viewed by responsible nations as similar to the jihadist violence we read about daily around the world – radical Islamists beheading Russian diplomats over Chechnya, plotting to do the same to the Canadian prime minister, or threatening murder over insensitive Danish cartoons. But that isn’t the case at all. Israel is always seen as a special exception that somehow deserves what it gets.

Other states can retaliate with impunity, brutally killing thousands of Muslim terrorists, while Israel is condemned when it takes out a few dozen. When in late 1999 Russians stormed Grozny, thousands of Chechnya Muslims died. Yet the press was mostly silent. Baathist Syria went after the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982, wiping out much of the city of Hama and killing perhaps more than 10,000. Not many UN resolutions or international refugee efforts there.

But Israel’s 2002 “siege” of the West Bank town of Jenin, where less than 60 died on both sides, was evoked as “genocide” by those in the Middle East who often deny the real one that took 6 million Jewish lives. When Israel retaliates by air to terrorism, it is dubbed a “blitz” by the press – as if it were akin to the Nazis carpet-bombing London. Israel’s border fence is referred to as a “Berlin Wall,” but you never hear Egypt’s nearby massive concrete barrier to keep Palestinians in Gaza described that way.

The old anti-Semitism is one ingredient that accounts for the animus shown Israel. Even sensitive, multicultural Westerners care little that Arab “allies” often portray Jews as “pigs” and “apes” in their state-run media. Odious tracts like Mein Kampf still sell briskly in the Palestinian territories, and Iranian and Gulf money subsidizes a mini-industry of Holocaust denial.

Finally, as the U.S. knows from its own southern border, anytime a successful Westernized nation is adjacent to a poorer Third World country, primordial emotions like honor and envy cloud reason. Rather than concede that Western-style democracy, capitalism, personal freedom, and the rule of law explain why a prosperous, stable Israel arose from scrub and rock, Palestinians fixate on “Zionism,” “colonialism,” and “racism.”

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