columnIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Avoiding mention of Iran while urging Israeli restraint

The facts of “Operation Breaking Dawn” don’t make the slightest difference to the moral-equivalence choir hot to return to the JCPOA.

An Israeli air strike on a residential building in Gaza City used for storing weapons, Aug. 6, 2022. Photo by Attia Muhammed/Flash90.
An Israeli air strike on a residential building in Gaza City used for storing weapons, Aug. 6, 2022. Photo by Attia Muhammed/Flash90.
Ruthie Blum. Photo by Ariel Jerozolomski.
Ruthie Blum
Ruthie Blum, former adviser at the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is an award-winning columnist and senior contributing editor at JNS, as well as co-host, with Amb. Mark Regev, of "Israel Undiplomatic" on JNS-TV. She writes and lectures on Israeli politics and culture, and on U.S.-Israel relations. Originally from New York City, she moved to Israel in 1977 and is based in Tel Aviv.

When asked in a TV interview on Saturday afternoon about the response of his counterparts at the United Nations to “Operation Breaking Dawn” against Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan said that the bulk of the world’s focus right now is on the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Pacific. He did acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority’s representative at the international body, Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour, has been busy urging the Security Council to condemn Israel—as usual.

If Erdan was feeling even mildly relieved about his colleagues’ attention being elsewhere for a change, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland ought to have put a damper on the sentiment. In an official statement on Friday, the useless envoy wrote, “I am deeply concerned by the ongoing escalation between Palestinian militants and Israel, including the targeted killing today of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader inside Gaza. This takes place amidst mounting tensions across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent weeks.”

The rest of the blather, which lacked all context, typically took Israel to task for the “at least 10 Palestinians … killed, [including] a five-year-old child … There can be no justification for any attacks against civilians. The continuing escalation is very dangerous. The launching of rockets must cease immediately, and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation.”

This is the same “peace maker” who paid a visit to Jenin on Friday, to meet with the family of senior PIJ leader Bassem Sa’adi, the arch-terrorist whom Israeli forces arrested earlier in the week. What seems to have gotten lost in all carry-on is that it was Sa’adi’s detention that spurred the PIJ to go on the warpath.

Igniting a battle would be a “two-fer” for PIJ, which responded to Israel’s move on Sa’adi by warning about and planning the slaughter of innocent Israelis. It could kill Jews—always a plus—and flex its muscles at its foe, Hamas, the “sovereign” terrorist group in Gaza.

Hamas was happy for PIJ—a smaller, weaker and less-equipped organization—to deplete its own stash of rockets and mortars in the act of committing atrocities against Israel. It was just as eager for as many PIJ operatives as possible to be wiped out in the endeavor.

During the days after Sa’adi’s capture late last Monday night, Israel imposed a kind of closure on the Jewish communities adjacent to the Gaza border, arguing that it was to keep them safe from potential PIJ retaliatory actions. It has since emerged that PIJ was in the process of preparing a mass attack on Israeli soldiers and civilians with the use of a guided anti-tank missile.

To prevent the so-called “escalation” that everyone always refers to when discussing Israeli self-defense, the government in Jerusalem made every attempt to persuade PIJ not to go ahead with its deadly plans. When that didn’t work, the IDF was left with no choice but to eliminate the threat. It thus proceeded, on Friday, to assassinate PIJ commander Tayseer Jabari.

It was only after this precision strike that PIJ rockets began to fly all over southern—and central—Israel. By Saturday evening, the Israeli Air Force had taken out another PIJ commander, Khaled Mansour, and several other members of PIJ’s “top brass.”

Meanwhile, Israel made it clear to the PIJ that it was willing to end the fighting, but only if the calm is reciprocated. PIJ has said through mediators that one condition for its compliance is the release of Sa’adi—a demand that should not and will not be met.

None of this makes the slightest difference to the moral-equivalence choir, certainly not those at the United Nations, whose Israel-bashing knows no bounds. Indeed, contrary to Erdan’s false hopes, they are at the ready to sing their tired chorus of bogus accusations, regardless of other occurrences around the globe.

That Russia burst into its own aria is not surprising, of course, since anything that serves as a distraction from its blitzing of Ukraine is welcome in Moscow.

In a statement on Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had an interesting slant on the events that are causing the Kremlin such “profound worry”: “The new escalation was caused by the Israeli army firing into the Gaza Strip on August 5, to which Palestinian groups responded by carrying out massive and indiscriminate bombardments on Israeli territory.”

Adding that her government was calling called on “all parties to show maximum restraint and work towards a ceasefire,” she said that Moscow reaffirms its “principled and consistent position, reflected in the relevant resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council in support of a comprehensive and long-term settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with the two-state principle.”

Finally, she concluded, “It is possible to put an end to cyclical violence only within the framework of the negotiation process, the result of which should be the realization of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state within the 1967 borders.”

She conveniently omitted key facts, such as Tehran’s role as sole bankroller of its proxy, PIJ. Hamas also receives money from Iran, but has other sources of income, as well.

Speaking of Iran, nuclear talks resumed in Vienna on Thursday between the Islamic Republic and the world powers hungry to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal that the mullah-led regime never adhered to in any case, and from which former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

As Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, orchestrated the JCPOA, and his successor, Joe Biden, is as desperate to salvage it as Russian President Vladimir Putin, it is beneficial for them to leave Iran out of any discussion on Gaza. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, while giving a social-media nod to Israel’s “right to protect itself,” added to his tweet, “We are engaging with different parties and urge all sides for calm.”

Iran couldn’t be more pleased.

Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”

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