Abraham Foxman: The world is outraged when Israel is forced to defend itself from terrorism
At global protests, he says, anti-Semitism is thinly veiled as criticism of Israel
Foxman: We must remember Hamas intentionally started this conflict
Foxman: Hamas spent millions on tunnels to attack Israel rather than helping Gazans
Editor’s Note: Abraham H. Foxman is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
When Israel is forced to defend its citizens from Palestinian terrorism originating from Gaza, we’ve come to expect outrage around the world. Critics are quick to condemn Israel’s military actions – some with such heavy-handed charges as “war crimes,” “atrocities” and even “genocide,” while remaining silent about the terrorists who started the conflict.
At anti-Israel protests around the world, violent anti-Semitism is on full display, thinly veiled as criticism of Israel. Demonstrators in Turkey have attacked Israeli embassies. In Germany, France, Italy and Spain and other European countries, the protests have led to anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish people, community centers and synagogues.
We’ve seen violence and incitement against Jews rising in Latin America as well.
It has been lost on no one that this pronounced anti-Semitism has its antecedents in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Fortunately, some responsible European leaders are standing up to the hatred and bigotry. But their words may not be enough, as Israel continues to be treated as the international community’s whipping boy in the latest conflict.
It is time for moral clarity on Gaza. The facts bear repeating. Hamas intentionally started this conflict. Hamas militants built miles of underground tunnels – at least 30 tunnels in all – using about 600,000 tons of cement and other materials that could have built homes or schools for Palestinians. Instead, it went into a sickening subterranean network of tunnels designed to carry out surprise terrorist attacks across the border in Israel.
It has been said that the only real growth industries in Gaza are in rocket-building and tunnel construction. This unconscionable waste of resources has brought about the two crowning “cultural” achievements of Hamas: Thousands of rockets raining down on Israeli towns and cities and terrorists armed to the teeth emerging from holes in the ground, intent on kidnapping more Israeli soldiers and killing Israeli civilians. This culture of death is an essential part of Hamas’ identity and ideology and has motivated the Hamas leaders for the more than eight years they have controlled Gaza.
The world knows that Hamas intentionally stores its rockets in homes, mosques, hospitals and schools. No matter how careful Israel tries to be in warning civilians before attacks, no matter how much restraint it exercises, Hamas has guaranteed that civilians will be victims. Children make up nearly half the population of Gaza, and so women and children are among those dying because of Hamas’s maximalist strategy against Israel.
Israel did not want this war, and certainly does not want to see civilians killed. But no matter, the calumny continues to rain down on Israel. What hypocrisy this is.
Has anyone condemned Hamas for the death of 160 children during the construction of the Gaza tunnels? The Institute for Palestinian Studies reports Hamas uses child labor to build its terror tunnels and prizes their nimbleness and work ethic.
On the news every day there is the macabre body count of how many civilians have lost their lives in Gaza, invariably accompanied by a comparison with the cost of life for Israeli soldiers and civilians. Counts vary, but most put the numbers of Palestinian deaths around 1,800 and Israeli deaths at 65.
All deaths that come about as a result of this conflict are tragic. But who is taking steps to limit casualties? Israel. Who is apologizing for the loss of life in Gaza? Israel. Hamas, on the other hand, tries at every opportunity to inflict as much pain as possible on Israel, trying to kill more Israeli civilians by firing rockets at large population centers, by sending suicide bombers across the border and sacrificing the lives of their own children. They make no apologies for their culture of death.
Look out at the world, there is no shortage of horrific violence and tragic death. Death by the thousands, by the tens of thousands in Syria; human destruction in Libya, in Afghanistan, in Iraq. Muslims slaughtering Muslims. And in Iraq, Muslims are killing Christians. Why have the voices of outrage in response to the more than 170,000 dead as a result of Syria’s civil war gone silent?
There are no cameras out there, there are few editorials, and there are even fewer demonstrations in the streets of Paris, of Rome or London.
Here is where moral myopia verges on moral blindness. It seems the world wakes up only when Jews in their own defense – defending their men, women and children – are forced to kill Muslims and Palestinians. That’s when the world demonstrates.
This is the true hypocrisy of the “condemn Israel” phenomenon.
And there can be no doubt that the anti-Israel campaign that is unfolding around the world is a function of the anti-Semitism that we know lurks just underneath the surface in some European societies and is all-but rampant across the Middle East.