I love a good story that tugs at the heart strings as much as anyone. I also love the idealism of some of my friends on the left even if, at times, I feel it clashes with reality. Anyway, I was reading that latest piece by Varda Speigel and was enjoying another heartwarming story until I got to this, almost at the end:
I’m reading many fine and legitimate blogs and posts from politically like-minded friends questioning whether they can bring themselves to fly the flag on Israel’s 70th Independence Day. Whether they can celebrate when the nation is holding millions in a brutal siege in Gaza…
Brutal siege? Seriously? Egypt has nothing to do with it? How about Hamas? I raised these questions on social media and Ms. Speigel acknowledged that they share responsibility but added that it is “our bad as well.” Hmmm…
Who was at fault when, in August of last year, the Palestinian Authority claimed that Hamas was blocking the construction of a desalination plant in Gaza? Didn’t Israel offer to build a plant years earlier, only to be rebuffed by Hamas? Who destroyed the greenhouses in Gaza when the IDF withdrew taking every last Jewish “settler” with them? Those greenhouses produced millions in agricultural exports for Israel. How many Gazans could they have fed?
What has happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid that flow into Gaza annually? It’s enough to build very fine hospitals, a first class infrastructure, very fine housing, and other forms of aid the population really does need. Is it somehow Israel’s fault that Hamas diverts the funds to terrorism, tunnels, and weapons? How much went to enrich Hamas officials? In March, 2014 there were an estimated 1,700 Hamas millionaires. In July of the same year Globes reported on Hamas billionaires. So why does only Israel get the blame for the poverty and suffering in Gaza, which is certainly real, in Ms. Speigel’s piece?
One question I’ve asked repeatedly of friends on the left and I have the same question for Ms. Speigel: how would you end the siege of Gaza without it costing untold Israeli lives? Hasn’t Hamas told us what would happen if Gazans could cross the border freely? Didn’t they make it perfectly clear they would murder ever Israeli Jew they could, including Ms. Speigel’s family and my family as well?
Israel should always stand ready to make peace and offer aid, much as it always has. The only precondition should be a simple one: don’t try to kill us. Is that so much to ask?
So, yes, I can celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. Even here, far away in the States, I can at least stream the festivities, which I am doing on another computer right here and now. I can also take pride in the country my father helped build along with hundreds of thousands of others 70 years ago. I can hope and plan to live b’eretz sooner rather than too much later. I can do all of this without assigning guilt for or blaming our people for what is happening in Gaza. The Palestinians themselves have the power to make a better life for themselves and I have no doubt Israel would help if conditions allowed.
Happy 70th, Israel!