David H. Levitt

Anthony Blinken’s false moral equivalency

There is always a “but.” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 7, 2024, compared Hamas’s October 7 barbarity with Israel’s defense of its citizens: “Israelis were dehumanized in the most horrific way on October 7. The hostages have been dehumanized every day since. But that cannot be a license to dehumanize others.”

He stated that the US has “pressed Israel” to allow more humanitarian aid, and that even though he knows “full well” that Hamas would never reciprocate, Israeli military actions in Gaza must “first and foremost” protect civilians in Gaza (without acknowledging that such a standard is, in fact, contrary to International Humanitarian Law and the Laws of Armed Conflict), because, “The overwhelming majority of people in Gaza had nothing to do with the attacks of October 7.” And, he asserted the Biden Administration’s new/old shibboleth – that the Palestinian Authority must “reform and revitalize” itself to find a “pathway” to a two-state solution and the formation of a Palestinian state.

Not once in the entire 25-minute press conference did he mention Hamas using Gazans as human shields, the primary reason for Gazan civilian casualties. Not once did he mention steps that the US and the world have taken, should take, or could take to prevent Hamas from stealing the very humanitarian aid that he “pressed Israel” to increase.

Not once did he mention the myriad of extraordinary steps that Israel has taken to reduce civilian casualties, which as described in great detail by John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, in his January 31, 2024 article in Newsweek: “No military in modern history has faced over 30,000 urban defenders in more than seven cities using human shields and hiding in hundreds of miles of underground networks purposely built under civilian sites, while holding hundreds of hostages. Despite the unique challenges Israel faces in its war against Hamas, it has implemented more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other military in history.” Somehow, all of these Israeli efforts, far more than the US performed in Iraq and Afghanistan (as detailed by Mr. Spencer), are beneath the notice of the US Secretary of State.

As always, especially in this election year when the Biden Administration fears losing votes of progressives, including in swing states like Michigan, the main focus of Secretary Blinken’s remarks were about criticizing Israel, with a few statements dropped in about Hamas to pretend to show balance. Supposed balance, however, will not get the hostages home, will not end Hamas, will not prevent Hamas or its successors (including elements in the Palestinian Authority or otherwise in the West Bank) from repeating October 7 again and again, will not change the teaching of hate in Palestinian schools both in Gaza and the West Bank by UNRWA-funded teachers, and will not create a “pathway” to a two-state solution.

Indeed, as Elliott Abrams highlights in his February 1, 2024 essay in Tablet (“The Two-State Delusion”), the situation has a long, long, long way to go before a Palestinian state can become a reality, even for those (like me) who very strongly believe that a two-state solution is the best for Israel as well as the Palestinians and who (like me) recognize that the Palestinians also have a long history in the land and a right to self-determination.

But merely sprinkling magic fairy dust on the Palestinian Authority by urging “reform and revitalization” from its decades of corruption and mismanagement, its hate-filled rhetoric to its own citizens, its Holocaust denial, its insistence on using US tax dollars for its sacrosanct pay-to-slay program, not only does nothing to smooth the path to a Palestinian state. Instead, continually “pressing” Israel while not pressing Palestinians to change their fundamental attitudes towards recognizing a Jewish state too actually harms the very cause that Secretary Blinken and the Biden Administration purport to desire.

Want peace? Want a two-state solution? Then try something different than, as Secretary Blinken did yet again in Tel Aviv on February 7, criticizing and pressing Israel to do more. Instead, take concrete steps to lay the groundwork for a true peace. Defund UNRWA permanently and move the functions that Secretary Blinken stated are still needed to a different agency. Move the responsibility for any refugees to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – the agency that is responsible for all other refugees except, until now, the Palestinians and whose job is to end refugee status rather than to perpetuate it while supporting terrorists, murderers, and rapists and practicing the child abuse of incubating another generation of Palestinian children to hate. Insist that any aid to Palestinians be conditioned on ending incitement. Enforce the Taylor Force Act barring US tax dollars for pay-to-slay. Demand that Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and other neighbors accept Palestinian refugees (including Gazans) just as they did refugees from Syria’s civil war – and that they treat them with dignity and rights. Require change to the current situation for Palestinians living in Lebanon and other Arab nations, where they are treated with true apartheid unlike the specious charge against Israel.

Anthony Blinken’s equivalency of Hamas and Israel is political and diplomatic malpractice. It only encourages Hamas and those who support it, including those in the US who have engaged in so much vociferous antisemitism since October 7, including for example the disturbing one-sided Chicago City Council resolution condemning only Israel with no mention of Hamas’ atrocities. Remarks such as those in Secretary Blinken’s press conference, thus, have impact on US Jews and the antisemitism they face, giving succor to continued Jew hatred.

There is no moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel. It is time that our public officials said that in no uncertain terms, and acted accordingly.

About the Author
David H. Levitt practices intellectual property and commercial litigation law in Chicago, and is a pro-Israel activist.
Related Topics
Related Posts