To Distinguish Compassion for the Palestinians from Enmity for Israel, Consider Events in Syria

After writing a brief article condemning Hamas for treating as cheap the lives of the people it rules, Liel Leibovitz received no small number of indignant responses accusing him of a lack of empathy. He replies:

[I]n the spirit of empathy, I’d like to offer a challenge of my own to all those—in the media, in prominent progressive organizations, and elsewhere—who were so rattled by the riots in Gaza. . . . Imagine a government, run by a bloodthirsty dictator, who bombed a heavily populated urban area containing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, reducing it to rubble. Furthermore, imagine that this benighted regime offered these poor Palestinians, the descendants of refugees living in squalor because of generations of systematic discrimination, two choices: be ethnically cleansed from your makeshift neighborhoods, or continue to be bombed and gassed from the air until only a few thousand of you are left in the ruins. How would you react?

It ought to be a no-brainer: [headlines] in the New York Times condemning the massacre, impassioned pleas for justice from Senator Bernie Sanders, an emergency gathering of the UN Security Council, and prayer circles of progressive Jews all over the world, reciting the kaddish for the murdered and chanting about tikkun olam. Right?

Wrong. In fact, none of these things would happen. Not one.

How can I be so sure? Easy: because it’s happening right now, in the Yarmouk neighborhood of Damascus, where the genocidal dictator Bashar al-Assad has murdered an untold number of Palestinian residents and driven all but a few thousand fighters—whom he identifies as members of Islamic State—from the wasteland of a heavily populated urban area that he has bombed flat. . . . If you’re not outraged now, you don’t really believe . . . that Palestinian lives matter. And if you were outraged only when Israel killed 50 Hamas terrorists trying to attack it, well, there’s an age-old term that accurately describes how you feel about Jews.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Syrian civil war, Tikkun Olam

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security