Israel will survive the Middle East

Protests continue at the border fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip in a camp east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018.

Last week Israel turned 70. In historical terms, that is such a young age for a country. Yet look at what it's accomplished: The only democracy in the Middle East, Israel has transformed itself from a strong agricultural producer into a technological powerhouse.

And for its birthday, it was awarded a number of international gifts. First, it won this year's Eurovision Song Contest with an electronic dance entry from 25-year-old Neta Barzilai. But of even more lasting duration, President Donald Trump kept true to his election promise, and recognized Jerusalem as Israel's historical capital by moving the American embassy there. Speeches, dancing and singing in the streets marked the unbelievable occasion.


Many presidents have promised such a move, but only Mr. Trump followed through, sending members of his family as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to elevate the celebratory atmosphere.

But the Western media were not at all happy. For weeks before, and especially during the festivities, the terrorist group known as Hamas called upon Palestinians to converge in Gaza to the fence which separates it from Israel, and, according to some of their leaders "tear out the hearts" of the Israelis. You might not be surprised to learn that there are multiple Israeli towns and villages not too far from the border fence, and when about to face some 50,000 angry and rioting individuals who have no love for Israelis, dangerous things are going to happen. For the Palestinians still see the creation of the State of Israel as the biggest calamity that has ever happened — the nakba. And so as Israelis celebrated the American embassy, Palestinians protested it on the day of and for weeks before.

Hamas marked these demonstrations as Days of Rage with the intent of marshaling as many people as possible to vent their anger and hatred against the Jewish state. Some actually came armed with incendiary devices, others with Molotov cocktails, others with lit kites to fly over the fence and to burn up property on the Israeli side. But even more to the point, they came to face off against the Israeli army, who they knew would be there waiting for them, and the entire event became a stage for Hamas to utilize the liberal Western media by egging on the protestors to provoke the soldiers to fire. It then turns out that out of the 60 protestors killed by the Israeli army, most of them were terrorist Hamas members who were using the protest as their opportunity to attack the soldiers.

"The Palestinians' more sophisticated friends know what Hamas is all about. THEY understand that people whipped into a frenzy by an organization that exists to destroy Jews aren't exactly latter-day Freedom Riders," Sohrab Ahmari, a senior writer at Commentary magazine, wrote. But "by the Western media's dim lights, the blame for Hamas' criminal stunt and the casualties it caused lay with ... anybody and everybody but Hamas and the Palestinians."

Hamas, do you need any reminding, are the terrorists famed for building underground tunnels that run from Gaza to parts of southern Israel with the clear intention of killing Israelis and taking many others hostage to negotiate prisoner releases. Many of these tunnels have been found by the Israeli security forces, but they continue to be built in ever-growing levels of sophistication for the very purposes of bringing their war to the subterranean doorstep of Israel.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday that Israel had acted with "restraint" in its deadly confrontation with Palestinians at the Gaza border, while Kuwait's ambassador urged the U.N. Security Council to offer protection to unarmed Palestinians.

You want to understand what is happening here? Let me conclude with the following well known story. A fox reaches the Suez Canal in the Middle East and wonders how he will cross it. While deep in thought, a scorpion creeps up and asks the fox if he would be so kind as to allow the scorpion to crawl up on his back while being taken to the other side of the canal. The fox responds that this will fail because the scorpion could just inject the fox with poison. Says the scorpion: Why would I do that and kill us both? The fox acceded and began to swim across the Suez with the scorpion riding him. Suddenly the scorpion stings the fox who then cries out: Now we both will die. Responds the scorpion: This is the Middle East.

Blame everyone for the Palestinian deaths and injuries except for the Palestinians. The Jewish state has survived countless wars, terrorism and the continuing anger of the Western media. It will also survive the Middle East.

Chaim Landau is past president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and Rabbi Emeritus of the Ner Tamid Congregation in Baltimore. His email is