A headline in the New York Times today reads, “Israel’s Supporters Try to Come to Terms With the Killing of Children in Gaza”. Robert Mackey, the anti-Israel columnist who frequently credits Electronic Intifada and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement as reliable sources, doesn’t mince words.
But many Israelis and their supporters abroad, forced to grapple with the moral implications of backing a military campaign against guerrilla fighters embedded in a densely populated area, have embraced the rationale offered by Israel’s government that Islamist militants are guilty of provoking the carnage by launching missiles from residential neighborhoods.
For Hamas, all Israelis are legitimate targets. No matter how much I support a two-state solution and the withdrawal of settlements in the West Bank, this cannot be ignored. When our children become the targets of Hamas, it must be dealt with.
Mackey’s column suggests, among other things, that only heartless child-killers could support the attempt to weaken Hamas’ very credible threat to the safety and security of Israel’s citizens. He may as well have typed, “Zionists Can’t Deny It: They Kill Kids”, as if we of all political and religious stripes support a reckless homicidal campaign against Gaza’s innocent. (You confuse us with ISIS, which is reportedly beheading men and their children and raping their daughters and wives as I type.)
The verb to kill means to end a life. In the military, civilian casualties are called, albeit callously, ‘collateral damage’. Mackey’s phrase, the killing of children, is obvious clickbait, designed to invoke two emotions – the desire to protect the children of Gaza and an anger at Israel for their deaths.
There is nothing in the piece to suggest that Israel attempts to avoid civilian casualties, or that Israelis are capable of supporting a military campaign while feeling a quiet displacement at the loss of civilian life. Mackey’s yellow journalism taunts us, as if to say, “Well? Don’t you feel bad for killing children? The blood is, after all, on your hands.”
Of course we care when children are hurt. And with no diplomatic solution in sight, more children will likely die before this is over. (Mackey failed to note that Hamas has rejected several ceasefires so far.) For many of us, the Arab-Israeli conflicts are a continuation of the 1948 War for Independence, a war that some fear will never end.
Unlike Americans, Israelis have yet to feel the luxury of knowing their children are relatively safe from terrorism or hostile states. In Israel, if your children don’t die in a terrorist attack, there is a possibility they will die after conscription into the IDF. It’s the price you pay when you live in a country with unsecured borders and enemies on all sides.
But despite walls, barbed wire, bomb shelters, an Iron Dome and segregated neighborhoods, Israelis still don’t trust Palestinians, even those with Israeli citizenship. And until the international community demands a demilitarized Hamas and a viable two-state solution that addresses the security needs of Israel and the right of Palestinian self-determination, it will only get worse. Safety will come with peace treaties, not temporary ceasefires.
Yes, we do care about the deaths of children, including that of our own. So how many dead Jews does it take before you ask, “Palestinian Supporters Try to Come to Terms with Hamas’ Stated Mission to Kill All Jews”?