During the past few weeks, the world has witnessed the deadly cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis erupt once more into full-fledged conflagration. What began with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers quickly escalated into the firing of thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel and the need for Israeli military action. And, as usual, the people who are paying the heaviest price for the conflict are the innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians who simply wish, as we all do, to go about their daily lives.
This conflict, its attendant loss of precious life on both sides, and the terror and fear in which it has placed so many people, is wholly unnecessary. Politically isolated and in need of funds, Hamas is striking out to gain the world's attention, hurt Israel's image by depicting her as a bloodthirsty violator of international norms of war, and try to refill its depleted coffers. Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has questioned what Hamas hopes to gain by its incessant firing of rockets into Israeli territory.
There is no question what Hamas hopes to gain. Hamas knew what would happen as a result of its unremitting acts of aggression and war crimes against the people of Gaza and Israel. It welcomed this war upon the people it claims to represent. This war is a despicable public relations tactic by Hamas to turn the world at large against Israel. It is being waged over the corpses of its own people.
Hamas' tactic is not only to turn the world against Israel through the slaughter of its own children but against all Jews. One need only look at the disturbing proliferation of anti-Semitic riots across Europe to see that this tactic is succeeding. People are viewing this conflict in terms of moral equivalence, pointing to the military imbalance between the two parties to the conflict and scrutinizing every action taken by the Israeli military while seemingly condoning the ceaseless barrage of missiles raining down on Israelis who live near the Gaza Strip. Israel is expected to tolerate what no state on Earth would.
There is no mention in the media of the Palestinians being treated in Israeli hospitals. Even the Israeli use of phone calls, flyers and dummy missiles to warn residents of a potential strike against militants in the area is criticized as wrong or insufficient. Never in the history of armed conflict has an army gone to such lengths to protect the civilians of its enemy because its enemy has no regard for its own civilians' lives. Yet all we hear from the international community is resounding condemnation of Israel for reacting to constant bombardment from Gaza.
Why is Israel held to a double standard? Why does the international community condemn Israel for attempting to protect its citizens from missile attacks while remaining silent about Hamas' war crimes against the Palestinian children it uses as human shields? The hateful and frightening attacks on Jews in Europe embody the answer to that age-old question. While we are blessed to be a part of the vibrant and accepting community in Baltimore, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel, in France, in Germany, in England, in Belgium — everywhere where people have been calling for the death of Jews these past weeks.
We, the members of the Baltimore Israel Coalition, have not forgotten what our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents suffered the last time shops were smashed and people called for the gassing of Jews. We support Israel's right to defend itself from external aggression. We defend Israel's right to exist. We do not apologize for Israel's actions in support of these goals. Baltimore stands with Israel.
Jason Blavatt and Ellen Ginsberg Simon are respectively chair and vice chair of the Baltimore Israel Coalition. They can be reached at Info@baltimoreisraelcoalition.org.
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