Not getting confused by the facts: ten quotes from the war

One of the most frustrating things about the Gaza War is the hypocrisy of many in the world, including our friends, in condemning Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense.  In the same sentence that many of these friends say they understand Israel’s right to defend itself, sometimes even adding the obvious statement that no country in the world would tolerate missiles raining down on its cities or terror tunnels being built underneath its borders, they add that they expect Israel to “do more” to prevent harm coming to innocent civilians. They compete with each other to condemn Israel in the harshest of terms when stray shells cause innocent casualties or when the IDF returns fire to areas from which Hamas terrorists were shooting, almost always from within civilian areas. To be clear, the casualties among non-combatants in Gaza were high and the destruction there horrific. No person with a heart can see these pictures and not be moved and truly feel for these people. However, a person with a brain also understands why this happened and who is at fault. Not only did Israel not start this war, not only did Israel try to avoid it, not only did Israel accept ceasefires that the other side did not, but it was Hamas that hid behind human shields, stored weapons in, and fired rockets from, hospitals, schools and Mosques. It was Hamas that urged civilians to stay put even though Israel repeatedly warned them to get out of the firing zone. Any person who is truly fair-minded cannot escape these facts. But many do. Over the course of the last few weeks of war, I have been collecting what I believe are the most outrageous comments made by people who ignore the facts and should know better. Some quoted here are openly hostile to Israel, most are clearly not, but in my view, they didn’t allow themselves to be confused by the facts. These comments, as a whole, reflect either ignorance, hostility, a need to be balanced at all costs or some combination of the above.  I’ve included the relevant links so you can see or watch the comment in its full context.

  1. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam interrupted a concert in London to lash out in a diatribe against the war. He’s not the first entertainer to get in on the act (Penelope Cruz, Selena Gomez, etc…) But Vedder took it a bit to the edge. Here is what he was quoted as saying: “I swear to f@$%ing God, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill! They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them. They should get the f$%! out and mind their own f$%#ing business…” OK, so maybe Eddie didn’t hear about Israel pulling out of Gaza back in 2005 or who started this war. If you haven’t seen Joan River’s response to Selena Gomez who she called “that College Graduate”, you should. Perhaps there is something about the education of these entertainers (or lack of it) that leads them to make these remarks
  2.  Dianna Butttu, a former spokesperson for the PLO and Palestinian legal advocate was interviewed on CNN. For those who don’t feel CNN is always fair in its coverage, watch the anchor on this interview, Jake Tapper, who grills Buttu who has been known for her outrageous statements. In this interview, she says, “The idea that Palestinians use children as human shields is racist and reprehensible.” Tapper didn’t back off, showing footage of Hamas spokespeople openly calling to do just that. But Buttu has a long history of such saying such nonsense. Over the years she has repeatedly said that Hamas’ rockets “don’t have explosive heads.” Don’t believe me? Check out these two links, the first from the current CNN interview and the other from a Fox News interview from Cast Lead a few years ago.
  3. In somewhat of a follow up to the previous quote, but this time during a heated debate on Fox News, Geraldo Rivera got into a shouting match with other panelists about the Gaza War. Rivera defended his Zionist credentials and argued that his criticism of Israel’s “grossly disproportionate” response was out of caring for Israel. Others on the panel didn’t agree. But at 3:02 of the video clip, Rivera said something which in my view, qualifies him for this list of quotes. He said in criticizing the lopsided body count that “These Palestinian missiles are laughable in their military effect.”  Maybe like Dianna Buttu he meant they don’t actually carry explosive heads? Over 3,200 missiles were fired at Israel. That Israel has both the best anti-missile system and civil defense system in the world has nothing to do with the fact that every one of those 3,200 missiles had the potential to kill many people. To belittle the rocket threat is just a silly thing to do.
  4. During a very interesting session on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in which Israeli spokesman Mark Regev was being interviewed, a seemingly innocent question came from Sam Stein (at 10:00 into the clip) as to why Israel doesn’t put as much effort into diplomacy with Hamas as it does with military operations?  Beyond the fact that Hamas is a recognized terroirst organization (not just by Israel) with which there is no direct dialogue, the whole interview was taking place minutes after Hamas had violalated the US-UN led ceasefire (so much for diplomacy..) using its cover to kill two soldiers and attempting to kidnap a third that was later determined to have been killed as well. The timing of this question was laughable, though Regev handled it well.
  5. On the same MSNBC show, a different day, host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman, described Israel’s actions in Gaza the following way: “This is asinine. This continued killing of women and children in a way that appears to be indiscriminate is asinine.”  Scarborough described himself as having a record of being one of Israel’s biggest supporters. He may be a supporter of Israel that is truly appalled by the destruction he sees, but to say its actions were indiscriminate, that they were not due to the fact that Hamas was shooting from within civilian areas and drawing response fire, is a disingenuous, if not an asinine thing to say. He should know better.
  6. Jen Psaki is the spokesperson for the US State Department. She commented on US-Israeli relations which took another hit after the severe US condemnation of a reported Israeli attack that caused casualties in an UNWRA school. As has been the case throughout the war, together with support for Israel’s right to defend itself, American spokespeople have felt a need for “balance”, to remind Israel that it “could do more” to prevent civilian casualties. I have yet to hear Psaki, or anyone else, friend or foe making the same claim, to explain exactly what they had in mind given the circumstances. Regardless, these were her comments:  “It does not change the fact that Israel remains an important security and strategic partner of the US. (Was that ever in danger? BS) We believe they have the right to defend themselves. While they have the right to defend themselves, there is more they can do in that regard to prevent events like those that happened.”
  7. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority leader, had this to say on CNN’s State of the Union. When host Candy Crowley asked if she thought Israel could be do more “to protect civilians in Gaza”, Pelosi responded, “We have to confer with the Qataris who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization.” Humanitarian organization? OK, her source of information is Qatar. That explains it.
  8. Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton made what appears to be a faux pas in an interview with Jorge Ramos on Fusion TV. Addressing the issue of Hamas storing their missiles and rockets in civilian areas, Clinton said, “the problem is, and this is something –I’m not a military planner, but Hamas puts its missiles and rockets in civilian areas, part of it is that Gaza’s pretty small and densely populated. They put their command and control of Hamas leaders in those civilian areas.” In other words, because Gaza is small, they have no other place to put them other than in civilian locations. OK…
  9. The role of the UN in this war will surely be analyzed in depth in the weeks and months to come. From the impact of the pictures of UN locations being hit in Israeli retaliatory strikes, to the Secretary General’s condemnations moving from one side to the other, to the egg in the face when Hamas violated the Secretary General’s announced ceasefire, to the fact that three times, Hamas rockets were found in UNWRA schools. To Israelis, the fact that UNWRA facilities were being used by Hamas came as no surprise. Back in Cast Lead, that was also the case. But the UN reaction this time was unique. On three separate occasions when these weapons were found in UNWRA schools, the UN officially condemned the practice, lamenting the violation of neutral territory. The UN Secretary General was “alarmed” to learn that rockets were placed in a UN-run school and now “have gone missing.” Gone missing?  Said Ban’s deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, the spokesman for UNWRA, “in accordance with standard practice, UNWRA handed them over to the local authorities. Since then, they have gone missing.” I’ll let you guess who the local authorities were.
  10. The craziest quote I’ve heard has to be that of Navi Pillay who heads the UN Human Rights Council. Pillay has had a lot to say, almost all of it negative in the extreme, including pushing through a resolution of the Council to investigate potential Israeli war crimes while leaving Hamas (the angels..) out of the investigation. Yes, I know, she did criticize their actions too, but somehow, they didn’t find their way to the Goldstone 2 investigation. But I stray. This quote takes the cake. Pillay condemned Israel and the US for failing to share the Iron Dome anti-missile system with Hamas, intimating that Israel in not supplying it, may have committed a war crime.  Sounds crazy? Remember that Pillay is the same person who back in April said that when Palestinian men beat their wives, it is Israel’s fault.

On a final, more positive note… So as not to end on a sour note, it must be said that plenty of people have had some very important and good things to say. But my favorite quote comes from Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, who summed up the Israeli position the following way: “There is nothing noble or responsible in suggesting a moral equivalence between a democratic nation and a terrorist group because of an unequal casualty count. What moral code demands that Israel be punished simply because Hamas has failed to commit the mass murder it intended?” Prosor is right on target.

About the Author
Barry grew up in New York and made Aliyah in 1988. He reached the rank of LTC in the IDF. He is a seasoned Marketing and PR professional.