Echoing a medieval antisemitic blood libel charging Jews with murdering young people, the Israeli daily Haaretz last week published an op-ed in which writer Yossi Klein grotesquely charged that Israeli society rejoices in and rallies behind the deliberate killing of Palestinian children. On the third day of Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow targeting Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a designated terror organization, the headline Haaretz ran would have made Joseph Goebbels proud: “Killing Children Brings Israelis Together” (May 11).
Klein’s op-ed, approved by Haaretz editors, is a textbook example of antisemitism. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, adopted by Germany along with dozens of other countries, includes: “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” (German publisher Alfred Neven DuMont owns 25% of Haaretz.)
Later updated with a more innocuous headline, “The Dead Children of Gaza Will Always Haunt Us,” the accompanying digital article nevertheless unabashedly continues to embrace the odious blood libel, uniting antisemites worldwide.
Klein, who previously provoked an uproar when he demonized his fellow Jewish Israelis of the national religious persuasion as “worse than Hezbollah,” writes, “There’s nothing like killing children for bringing together hearts and minds. For the past 18 weeks, Israelis have been fighting each other, unable to find anything to bring us closer together. Then came the killing of the children in the Gaza Strip and proved that we’re brothers after all.”
Further down, he adds that killing children is “designed to deter the terrorists and make us happy.”
In addition, as of this writing, Haaretz’s tweet alleging “Killing children brings Israelis together” is still online, racking up more than 74,200 views and counting.
“Killing children is an effective action that becomes carved into memory,” opines Klein, falsely casting the collateral deaths of eight-year-old Ali Izz ed-Deen and his 12-year-old sister Miar Izz ed-Deen as the objective of a May 9 Israeli airstrike, entirely ignoring that their father, Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Tareq Izz ed-Din, was the actual target.
Tareq Izz ed-Din was a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist who oversaw 20 terror squads in the West Bank, including one in Jenin that had started producing rockets threatening Afula and other northern Israeli towns, and another cell in Ramallah that manufactured attack drones. These two significant developments threatened to open a new front, risking further escalation and bloodshed. The Israeli military concluded that this impending threat necessitated the fatal airstrike, even though ed-Din’s family was with him at the time.
Thus, Klein’s outrageous charge that Israel targeted children (as opposed to their terrorist father) and rejoiced in their deaths is a completely unfounded lie.
Civilian deaths, including those of children, are an inevitable, tragic and legal outcome of airstrikes against legitimate military targets around the world. According to Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.”
Acting in accordance with the international law concept of proportionality—weighing the military benefit against the price in civilian casualties—the Israeli military has repeatedly cancelled attacks targeting terror operatives in order to avoid killing children and other civilians.
In last week’s Operation Shield and Arrow, Israel’s record of minimizing civilian casualties far surpassed those of other countries. Writing about civilian casualties in asymmetric warfare, Col. Richard Kemp reported, “The U.N. estimate that there has been an average three-to one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide.” According to Israeli figures, 17 out of the 33 fatalities in the Gaza Strip were combatants, and four of the civilians deaths were caused by misfired Palestinian rockets. Thus, out of 29 total fatalities caused by Israeli fire, 12 were civilians, yielding an impressive combatant-to-civilian ratio of 1.42:1.
By holding Israel to a higher standard than other nations on civilian deaths, Klein takes a another page out of the antisemites’ dog-eared guide book. Or as the IHRA puts it: “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
Hanan Amiur is editor-in-chief of Presspectiva (CAMERA’s Israel Department).
Originally published by CAMERA.
For the Hebrew version of this article, see Presspectiva. Translated into English by Shlomi Ben Meir.