'Shielded' from the truth of war
by Jonathan S. Tobin
The death of noncombatants in any war is tragic. Death is always horrible and no matter how righteous the cause, we must always regret the loss of life in any conflict, including those where the right of self-defense is being justly exercised.
But as much as armies should do all they can to avoid the killing of civilians, that does not mean that all warfare, which brings with it the inevitable toll of such casualties, is inherently unjust.
Quite the contrary. The use of armed force to suppress terrorism, as well as to remove regimes which threaten their own people as well as the peace of the world, is both just and necessary.
Unfortunately, much of the protests against America's campaign against the regime of Saddam Hussein have sought to blur the distinction between wanton slaughter and those casualties caused by a nation defending itself.
That is also true of the non-stop barrage of propaganda designed to undermine Israel's ability to defend itself. What these critics forget is that Israel is not the aggressor against the Palestinians. The areas under the rule of the Palestinian Authority have been used as safe havens where terrorist organizations, including those connected with the P.A. itself, have sought shelter.
They have used the cities of the West Bank and Gaza as bases from which their suicide bombers, snipers and murder squads have sallied forth to murder Israelis. They have also used neighborhoods in Gaza as launching pads for missiles that they have fired at Israeli towns. No state could or should allow these killers to continue in this manner.
Unfortunately, the pictures and accounts of the battles that Israel has fought to kill and capture the Palestinians who have waged war against it are often shocking. And recently, Israel has come under criticism for incidents in which Arabs were killed, as well as for the death of an American supporter of the Palestinians who died while trying to interfere with Israeli troops in Gaza.
In some of these cases, mistakes may have been made by Israeli troops. Those responsible should be held accountable. While Israel's military rightly prides itself on its humane practices, such military accidents, including "friendly fire" incidents, are part of the history of all wars.
But before Americans rush to condemn Israel, we should remember that Israeli troops are where they are because of a campaign of Arab terror. The terrorists who seek shelter among civilians bear the responsibility for the casualties that occur when Israelis pursue them. And in the case of the 23-year-old American "peace activist" Rachel Corrie from Washington state, it must be pointed out that she was in Gaza specifically to shelter Palestinian murderers from Israeli counterattacks.
For some, peace pilgrims like Corrie are heroes. But the truth about the International Solidarity Movement, which sent her to Gaza, as well as the other "human shields" who went to Iraq, is far less flattering. Their goal is not so much humanitarian as it is political. The "human shields" in Gaza aren't there to help the Palestinians who have suffered under the dictatorial rule of the Palestinian Authority and its suicidal decision to wage war instead of accept peace with Israel. They are there to oppose Israel's attempts to defend itself. Similarly, the "human shields" went to Iraq to oppose America, not help Iraqis.
The day after Corrie's death, the Associated Press released a file photo they had taken of her in February at an anti-Israel rally. Though she has been portrayed in the media as something close to a saint, the photo shows her tearing up a mock American flag to the cheers of her Palestinian cohorts. The look on her face as she tore the flag is familiar. It is not one of compassion or courage. It is a portrait of crazed hate. Hate for Israel and hate for her native America.
The real heroes are the soldiers of the United States and of Israel who are risking their lives to protect us all against evil regimes and terrorists. Not the leftist fools who seek to stop them for doing their jobs. Were her goal truly humanitarian, Corrie and other so-called "human shields" would have done better to attempt to protect the men, women and children of Israel from the bombs and bullets of their Palestinian friends. Instead, Corrie died while trying to "shield" launching sites for missiles that have rained down on the people of Israel.
She should be thought of as another human sacrifice placed upon the altar of the Palestinians' endless war on Israel. Corrie was a victim, but not a martyr.
Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@jewishexpo
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, March 27, 2003