Former Mayor of New York, Ed Koch responds with sound logic to the cynical drumbeat of anti-Israel rhetoric:
Israel Must Defend Itself
Edward I. Koch
Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006
Last week, The New York Times reported, “Israeli troops killed two Palestinian women and wounded some 10 others who were seeking to serve as human shields for Hamas militants holed up in a Gaza mosque . . .
“Hundreds of women, urged on by Palestinian radio, were flocking to the mosque to try to prevent an Israeli attack and to help an estimated 60 men escape . . . The gunmen inside the mosque escaped.”
The people the Times refers to as “militants” in Gaza have been firing rockets daily from the Gaza town of Beit Hanun at nearby towns on the Israeli side of the border, seeking to injure or kill Israeli civilians. Those who intentionally aim to kill civilians should be referred to as terrorists.
In contrast, violence by Palestinians against Israeli military personnel merely perpetuates the war between the two peoples and therefore undermines chances that a Palestinian state will be created.
However, Palestinian attacks on the Israeli military are acceptable under international law, and are therefore not considered acts of terrorism, even if they are repugnant to those of us who support Israel.
I, like most Jews in Israel and the U.S., have come to the conclusion that the Palestinian government and the Palestinian people who overwhelmingly voted for that government are part of the international Islamic terrorist effort to bring the West and its civilization to its knees. Israel — located as it is in the heart of the Islamic world — is seen by the supporters of Islamic terror as the primary target.
The Hamas government has repeatedly stated that it would not recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel, that it would continue to engage in violent acts against Israel, and that it would not recognize any agreements that prior Palestinian governments had entered into with Israel.
For Hamas, the two-state solution is not an option.
Hamas believes that historic Palestine “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea” must be a single Arab state and that all Jews not born in that “Palestine” must be expelled.
On my radio program last Friday night, a caller denounced the Israeli military for shooting Palestinian women who sought to shield the holed-up gunmen occupying the mosque.
The Arab world and others hostile to Israel have already denounced the Israelis for shooting at these women. The Times reported, “Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, angrily called for the international community to ‘come here and witness the daily massacres that are being carried out against the Palestinian nation.'”
The obvious purpose of the confrontation between the women and the soldiers was to create Palestinian propaganda that could be used to discredit Israel. On my radio program I asked what are the Israeli soldiers to do, stand there and be killed?
Are the militants to be allowed to escape and engage in terrorist actions on another day, killing Israeli civilians and soldiers?
Are Palestinian women to be allowed, because of their gender, to help the Palestinian terrorists with impunity?
I think rational people will say no.
I believe rational people will agree with an Israeli spokesman quoted in the Times. “‘The fighting around the mosque is not something we wanted,’ said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry. ‘But international law is clear: when combatants take control of a religious site and begin firing, it becomes a legitimate target. They broke the sanctity of the site.'”
Similarly, as the Times reported, “One marcher, Suhad el-Masri, 28, said she and several of her relatives had been carrying abayas and scarves to give to the men. ‘We took them so they could disguise themselves as women and escape,’ she said. Her sister, Hiba Rajab, 20, was shot in her legs and left arm; her wounds were considered serious.”
These women broke the commitment that women will not participate in acts of violence and thus not be fired upon. As recently as Nov. 7, the Times reported that in Gaza, “Mervet Masoud, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman, blew herself up near several [Israeli] soldiers, killing herself and slightly wounding one soldier . . . [She] said in a video released by Islamic Jihad after her attack, ‘Consider me a martyr . . .'”
There will undoubtedly be continuing efforts to delegitimize the very existence of the state of Israel by supporters of the Palestinians. While some decent people decry the shooting of Palestinian women, they are silent in the face of the horrendous carnage inflicted by Islamic suicide bombers in Iraq who are killing and maiming innocent Iraqi civilians every day, many women shopping at local markets.
The explosions are the handiwork of Iraqi Sunni and Shia militants engaged in their escalating civil war.
I asked my radio caller what would he do in this Gaza event. He said he didn’t know and had no suggestion other than not shooting the women. I support the statement by U.S. State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, who is quoted in The Times, “The U.N. has a point of view,” commenting on another critical statement by Kofi Annan, adding, “Israel has the right to defend itself. The reason why all of this developed in the first place is because you have continuing attacks on Israel from Palestinian Authority areas.”
Would a spokesman in a John Kerry administration have said that?
[Edward I. Koch, author, lawyer, and talk-radio host, was a member of the U.S. Congress and, for 12 years, the 105th mayor of New York City.]