Robert L. Wolkoff

Sorry, But I’m Not Sorry

No, I have no apologies for the recent events in Gaza. Here’s why:

1. How many Molotov cocktails do Palestinians have to throw before they stop being “peaceful protesters?” That’s a trick question, because as long as they are throwing them at Jews the number seems infinite. Same with flaming kites (arson isn’t violence for Palestinians. Who knew?), improvised explosive devices, knives, grenades, and automatic weapons. And slingshots. FYI, a stone leaving a slingshot travels at 100mph, with the stopping power of a .44 Magnum, and a range of a quarter mile. Look it up. No matter what the Palestinians do, though, the media describes them like ‘60’s flower children sticking daisies in the barrels of National Guard rifles.

And that moral blindness is not as bad as the moral imbecility demonstrated by many of the talking heads. One particularly bizarre example was the Guardian newspaper commentator who asked how Israelis would like it if Hamas killed 50 Jews on the streets of Tel Aviv. First, please note the comparison of apples and oranges. The proper comparison would be if Israelis intentionally killed fifty random innocent Palestinians, minding their own business, walking down the street in Gaza. Of course, that would never happen.

But second, and more important, the whole point of defending the border of Israel—which the reporter condemns—is precisely to make sure that such a mass terror attack in Tel Aviv NEVER HAPPENS! Duh.

2. A thought experiment: Imagine that everything the Palestinians did at the border was moved back a couple of hundred yards. The Palestinians could have waved as many Palestinian flags (and burned as many Israeli and American ones) as they wanted. They could have invited representatives from the EU, the World Council of Churches, and Jeremy Corbyn. They could have had entertainment by Roger Waters and Lorde, famous Israel boycotters, as well as speeches from “intellectuals” Norman Finkelstein and Judith Butler. They could have had themselves a regular anti-Semitic hootenanny—unless the Hamas PR people successfully convinced people to say “kill all the Zionists” instead of “kill all the Jews”, in which case the hootenanny would be merely “anti-Israel.”

Not a single person would have been killed. Not a single person would have been wounded. (With the possible exception of Judith Butler, whom they would probably have wanted to kill just from boredom).

In fact, this is what the Israelis encouraged them to do (not kill Butler, just stay away from the fence). They dropped leaflets saying, “Don’t go near the fence. You might get killed.” And Hamas responded by paying people a hundred bucks a pop to go to the fence and get killed.

3. And the Israelis, with their “disproportionate use of force”? Please, spare me. Sure, 99% of the protestors were non-violent. Well, 99% of the protestors didn’t get killed. In fact, 99.9% of the protestors didn’t get killed. And of those that did, nearly all were Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists. I’ll cry for them as much as I will for dead ISIS terrorists. Which is to say, not one drop. I do, of course, feel sorrow for any innocents who were killed or wounded. But that’s not the same as an apology for it. After all, who put these innocents in harm’s way?

I want every Jewish mother who thinks it’s a good idea to bring their kids to a place where shots are being fired to raise their hand. No takers? Didn’t think so.

And just for the record, I absolutely have no apologies for the fact that no Israeli soldiers died. Thank G-d no Israeli soldiers died. We don’t have to let our children die just to even the score for Amnesty International.

4. Last, and most crucial. There are those who suggest that Israel should have let people cut through the border fence and then arrest them. That way, no one had to die. Sounds just dandy, until you grapple with the deeper implications. In the real world, you don’t let people cut through your border fence. Because if you do, the next step is to let them go to nearby Israeli towns and farms (to which Hamas had thoughtfully provided maps). And the next step is to let them destroy property but not people. And the next step is to let them attack people, but not kill them. And the next step…You get the point. You think it wouldn’t go that far? Refer to point 1, above.

Infinitely better to remind the Palestinians that good fences make good neighbors. And bad fences make dead neighbors. Understand this: We Jews have a fundamental right to be left alone. That means no rockets. Not one. No stabbings. Not one. No border breaches. Not one. And no dead Jews (or even dead Zionists). Not one.

The sooner this lesson is learned, first by the world that enables this madness and then by the Palestinians who are the primary victims of it, the sooner the Palestinians will stop imagining that the deadly cocktail of bloody histrionics and sympathetic headlines is a reasonable substitute for studied diplomacy and mature, dispassionate compromise.

And the sooner Palestinian mothers will stop getting up from their mourning, picking up a fading newspaper clipping, and asking, “Was this really worth the life of my child?”

About the Author
Rabbi Wolkoff serves Congregation Bnai Tikvah in North Brunswick. He has published hundred of articles and lectured internationally on Jewish topics, and has been active both in interfaith work and in the struggle against anti-Semitism, both in the United States and in Sweden, where he served for a decade. He is a JNF Rabbi for Israel.
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