Explaining the Fracas over President Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement

Dec. 11 2017

The White House’s official statement last week acknowledging the location of Israel’s capital unleashed a torrent of indignant reactions: from Palestinian politicians (“President Trump . . . made the biggest mistake of his life”), to European politicians (a “catastrophe,” according to the Swedish foreign minister, shortly before a group of thugs firebombed a synagogue in her country), and even from U.S. Democratic congressmen who had voted for resolutions calling for the president to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem. Elliott Abrams, praising what he calls “a victory for common sense as well as for history,” analyzes the fuss:

So what explains the ridiculous overreaction? For someone like [the Democratic congresswoman Nancy] Pelosi, there’s a simple rule: never give Donald Trump credit for anything, period. For the Europeans, hatred of Trump combines with longstanding anti-Israel bias, especially in the foreign ministries. The many phony statements of regret and copious crocodile tears about possible forthcoming violence broadcast the clear hope that there would be plenty of rioting, just to prove Trump wrong. For Arab regimes, fearful of public sentiment that is always pro-Palestinian and often propelled by simple hatred of Jews, the path of least resistance and greatest safety was to denounce Trump’s move.

There will be violence if Arab rulers want violence, and very little if they want to stop it. The Palestinian Authority itself is the main exhibit here. It should be held responsible for violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank because its overreaction and its deliberate mischaracterizations of what Trump has done will fuel violence. When the PA closes schools—as it did the day following Trump’s remarks—so students can be free to riot, it is encouraging violence. . . .

What is the proper American response? To bow to threats of violence or to do what President Trump did and move forward? After all, when threats of violence and acts of violence are seen to change U.S. policy, there will be more of them. If, instead, they achieve nothing, there will be fewer of them. . . .

There is one additional reaction to Trump’s move that’s worth considering, even if it is silent and invisible. It is the reaction of leaders all around the world who will now take Trump’s promises more seriously. . . .So when next he makes a pledge or promise or threat, don’t you think Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin or Ali Khamenei will think twice before dismissing it? Seems logical.

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More about: Democrats, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Palestinians, US-Israel relations

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict