Before sentencing, the accused is permitted to summon character witnesses to speak to the court on his behalf.
So, in the global court of public opinion, who should Israel – the accused – have speak on its behalf?
Who can be Israel’s most effective character witness?
You’re probably thinking about countries like the USA or the UK. Or perhaps Canada, whose Prime Minister has been remarkably steadfast in his support for Israel. Or how about Arab leaders and citizens of Gaza and the West Bank, who frequently receive lifesaving medical care in Israeli hospitals? Perhaps Syrian refugees, who cross the northern border into Israel, in order to be treated at the ad hoc field hospital that Israel set up in response to the humanitarian needs of these desperate people? Perhaps countries such as Turkey or Haiti where Israel’s rescue teams provided emergency aid and relief in the aftermath of overwhelming natural disasters. Maybe they should be Israel’s character witnesses in the court of public opinion?
Indeed, calling on any of these people or countries to speak on Israel’s behalf is tempting.
But are they really THE MOST effective character witnesses that Israel can call on?
I have a better character witness for the State of Israel.
I have in mind an organization – as unlikely and counter-intuitive as it may seem – that can testify to Israel’s respect for life – not only of its own citizens, but of its enemy’s citizens!
This organization can testify, from its own firsthand experience, that Israel’s care for the preservation of innocent people’s lives is paramount and in fact unparalleled by any other nation; so much so, that Israel is unwilling to compromise its cultural and national commitment to life and morality and in fact pays a high price for upholding these values.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: I call Israel’s enemy to the stand. I call Hamas.
No, I haven’t completely lost it.
Think about it. Israel is accused by Hamas as being the epitome of evil.
And yet, Hamas has found that the most effective way to impede Israeli military efforts in Gaza is to use their own citizens as human shields.
“For the Palestinian people, death became an industry, at which women excel and so do the people of this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death as you desire life.” – Fathi Hamad, Member, Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamas (Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), Feb. 29, 2008 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTu-AUE9ycs
Therein lies the power of their testimony.
You see, if the epitome of evil is after you, using innocent women and children as human shields will be useless. Real evil would plow through them without hesitation, as it comes for you.
Human shields are simply not an effective defensive measure against evil.
They are however VERY effective against anyone who cares deeply about the safety of innocent people. No one knows this better than Hamas.
Hamas knows – more clearly perhaps than even the dearest of Israel’s allies – that Israel cares so deeply about avoiding collateral damage in the form of innocent civilians, that even in the densest of war zones it avoids using highly effective military tactics only to ensure the safety of Palestinian civilians.
To make this less academic: Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with an average of 6,000 people per square kilometer. If Israel, with one of the most powerful militaries in the world, were to adopt common military standards pertaining to “acceptable collateral damage”, the death toll in Gaza would now be in the tens of thousands – not several hundred.
No other country in the world applies as many self-restraining policies to avoid “acceptable collateral damage” as does Israel, and no one knows this better than Hamas.
That’s why Hamas uses human shields – because they have discovered how effective this is when fighting an enemy that actually cares about saving innocent lives and holds life itself as the highest value. Ironically, Hamas, in the military tactics which it has adopted, acknowledges Israel’s moral superiority. THAT is why they are Israel’s most effective character witness.
As for the rest of us:
If we believe in Democracy and want to see it flourish.
If we believe in freedom and the importance of basic human rights.
If we believe in life and wish to see a lasting peace in this war-ridden region.
If we wish to hold on to the hope for a better future.
We must understand, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that our attention must be given to those who would openly and blatantly rid the world of these values which we hold so dear while simultaneously doing all we can to strengthen and support those who would pay the ultimate price to uphold them. In this case, the State of Israel.