> In the New York Times of January 25, 2009, journalist Ethan Bronner describes vastly divergent narratives of anti-Zionists and defenders of Israel. The anti-Zionist construct is that Israel is a neo-colonialist aggressor uninterested in peace (Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza to the contrary notwithstanding). From my observation point in Tel Aviv, I get to witness all too clearly the great disconnect between anti-Zionist rhetoric and reality. I get to see Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas striving to destroy Israel with missiles getting closer and closer to my balcony.
National Self Defense
We know that Hamas fired more than 8,000 rockets and mortars at civilians in Israel, increasing the rate to 80 per day as of December 21, 2008. Even the anti-Zionists concede that Israel has a right to self defense. But they define it in a peculiar fashion.
According to the anti-Zionists, efforts to eliminate hostile assaults must be carefully calibrated in terms of weaponry and casualties – at least if the people ultimately being protected are disfavored Zionist Jews. Jet planes, even if precision targeted, are grossly unfair. Casualty rates cannot be too unbalanced, and a 10 to 1 ratio is improper. However, when the civilian victims being protected against hostile assault were Muslims, as in the Balkans in 1999, none of this mattered. When NATO forces were using high-altitude bombing to protect Muslims, and when civilian Serbian casualties were 3 times as great as military casualties, not a single suggestion of disproportionate force was heard. Hamas’ dedication to the destruction of Israel by any means possible doesn’t matter to anti-Zionists in assessing proportionality. Never mind that Hamas’ version of self defense features liquidating civilians and leaving as many Jewish bodies as possible plastered to the walls of pizzerias and other gathering places.
Freedom of Expression
Democracy depends on diversity of views. Anti-Zionists relish free speech – so long as it supports their own doctrinaire positions. Hamas in Gaza provides some examples. Hamas is all for a free press reporting Israeli aggression. But if a Gazan wants to report Hamas atrocities – e.g., firing missiles from civilian-crowded areas – that person is subject to liquidation. When a N.Y. Times reporter witnessed a summary civilian execution by Hamas fighters in a Gazan hospital, she was immediately subject to threats. Every foreign correspondent in Gaza is well aware of Hamas’ intimidation.