Blood Libel and Collateral Damage

Abe Foxman, the legendary former leader of the ADL, announced he was cancelling his New York Times subscription to protest a front-page story about child casualties of the latest Israel-Hamas war.  He called it a “blood libel of Israel and the Jewish people.”

The Times on Friday published color photos 67 children under 18 killed in Gaza and 2 in Israel. Titled “They Were Just Children,” it covered half of page one above the fold.

It was easy for readers to get the impression that Israel targeted Palestinian children, when in reality just the opposite was true.

“If Hamas is killing far fewer children than Israel, it is not for want of trying,” Andy Carroll, editor of the New York Jewish Week, wrote in his weekly newsletter.

The Times story, he said, “seems intended to bypass the arguments of who is right and wrong and go straight for the kishkes.”

The Times story bolsters those who complain about the disproportionate casualty count, as if there weren’t enough dead Jews.
Here’s the emmes: Hamas was the one trying to kill children, specifically Jewish children, and Israel was protecting its children.  That’s the real story.

Hamas used civilian neighborhoods as operational headquarters and as launch sites for its missiles, intentionally making them targets for Israeli retaliation.

It wasn’t that Hamas didn’t attempt to kill more than two young Jews. They certainly tried hard enough, firing thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilian communities.  It’s just that Israel foiled Hamas’ plans by building an effective defense system of civilian shelters and Iron Dome anti-missiles.

And don’t think that Hamas didn’t have similar defenses because it couldn’t afford them.  Not at all.  Hamas chose instead to devote its resources – and they were not meager —  to trying to kill Jews rather than protect Palestinians.  It built thousands of missiles and an extensive network of tunnels for moving fighters and ammunition until needed to attack Israel. One mission for the terror tunnels was sneaking into Israel to kidnap soldiers and civilians for hostages.

Financing was provided by its generous mentors in Iran as well as by diverting international humanitarian funding intended to repair and replace housing and infrastructure destroyed in the previous wars.

Israel saw the Jewish victims as a tragedy.  Hamas saw them as victories, and it exploited Palestinian victims as public relations assets known as martyrs.

In fact, some of those Palestinian children were actually killed by Hamas rockets that fell in Gaza. The exact numbers are a closely guarded Hamas secret for obvious reasons.

Israeli defense experts say as many as a quarter to a third of the more-than-4,500 missiles fired by Hamas at Israel actually fell inside Gaza.  Iron Dome knocked down about 90 percent of those that did cross the border, all of which were aimed at civilian targets inside Israel.

Gaza is densely populated, and many people live in areas of no strategic or military importance to Israel, making it unlikely they would be targeted by Israeli forces.  Thus, it is very credible that civilian casualties in those areas were victims of Hamas missiles and other artillery.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.
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