Israel needs to defend its borders and that’s not the point (a nonpartisan complaint)

Instead of pulling the media bias card let’s take stock of the situation.

Israel has to defend its borders. The IDF faced an ugly decision when a Hamas-led mob stormed the fence, and they did what any country facing a mob of terrorists rushing its border would likely been forced to do. Before rushing to agree or not, please consider the third argument that this conversation is not the point.

Since the violence last week most of the coverage and social media chatter has missed the point. Instead of looking at why Hamas can easily recruit 1000s of martyrs to risk death and gruesome injury – and garner significant international sympathy in the process – democrats have lashed out at the IDF, while, predictably, republicans complain at fever pitch about media bias. In doing so, both sides are either buying into a tragic statistic that was engineered by Hamas before the protests took place, or ignoring the bigger picture.

Hamas is a sick force of evil that compromises civilian lives to send an ugly message. Liberals are wrong to not address and even deny this. However, Republicans are even more wrong in handing Hamas everything it needs to carry out its mission.  And as long as they continue to trot out Sean Hannity and do nothing but complain of media bias when Israel consistently loses in the court of international opinion, they will continue to help the country have worse PR than  terrorists.

Those of us who are pro-Israel would be wise to instead answer the question above – acknowledging why Hamas is capable of turning its millennials into martyrs. Then, we must go about taking away that power, which cannot be done with force however much the terrorists deserve it.

There is no excuse for Gaza’s 44 percent unemployment rate, a generation with nothing to live for, without a basic infrastructure, clean water and more than a four hour daily average ration of electricity. Israel answers to a higher standard than Palestinian leadership, for reasons illustrated by last Monday’s death count. As someone who cares about Israel a great deal, I’m proud of that fact. I’m much less proud when it acts like it doesn’t by consistently complaining that no-one else is fixing Gaza, either. It’s like witnessing a 9 year old prove their relative maturity over a 4 year old.

“Israel, Egypt, and the PA cannot just lock away the Palestinians in the hope that Hamas will be overthrown,” The Economist wrote this week. It concluded that if Hamas were to accept “Israel’s right to exist, it would expose Israel’s current unwillingness to allow a Palestinian state.”

Israel maintains its chokehold on Gaza in the name of security – a critical issue to its wellbeing. Republicans and democrats would be smart to question if this the appropriate measure, but this too is a conversation that gets repeatedly stripped of its nuance, buried in politics, and dyed black and white.

When liberals ignore the relentless threat of terrorism hanging over the state of Israel, and avoid acknowledging that they share a common enemy against its orchestrators, republicans rarely get over the righteous indignation that ensues. But there’s no excuse for failing to acknowledge that the chokehold inflicted on Gaza is not working. It’s not working for Israel security, it’s not working by basic humanitarian standards, and as a result it’s not working to stifle the success of Hamas’s propaganda, PR ground game, and overwhelming recruitment power.

Should we achieve such bipartisanship and acknowledge this, what happens next should be left to the diplomats and minds more qualified than mine. But I do feel eligible to suggest a few basic steps. My first is to avoid gleefully opening an embassy and inflicting more symbolic injuries upon millions of next door neighbors with nothing to live for and an ever-developing death wish upon all of Israel. “Trump Make Israel Great” banners could be taken down and I can’t imagine the peace process being dealt any serious setbacks.

Instead of declaring victory when none occurred, it’s time to give Palestinians something to live for. I hear frequently that addressing the misery in Gaza can’t be done without helping Hamas, but I have yet to hear a valid explanation as to why the deepest bench of diplomats aren’t capable of this – only evidence that its leaders do not want them to. This is most evident in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who routinely ignores the advice of his generals (See: Iran Deal). Far be it from me to tell hardliners to stop taking victory laps in the Trump era, but I am shocked that they’re still confused about the quality of media coverage they’re getting as they let Gaza burn.

About the Author
Matt Matilsky has been involved with Israel advocacy and American politics since college. He actively contributes for local and national publications regarding regional and Israel-related issues. He works at a recruitment firm in New York City.
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