columnIsrael at War

No, Israel didn’t ‘pave the way’ for ‘pariah’ status

It is unconscionable for “The Jerusalem Post” to cast a shadow on the very conduct that’s being seized upon by ill-wishers to discriminate against the Jewish state.

Nawaf Salam, judge and president of the International Court of Justice, during the court's ruling that Israel must cease military operations in Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip, May 24, 2024. Credit: Bastiaan Musscher/U.N. Photo/ICJ-CIJ.
Nawaf Salam, judge and president of the International Court of Justice, during the court's ruling that Israel must cease military operations in Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip, May 24, 2024. Credit: Bastiaan Musscher/U.N. Photo/ICJ-CIJ.
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.

Way to go, Jerusalem Post. In the midst of an existential war, you opted to engage in the very kind of Jewish breast-beating that’s music to enemy ears. And, as you know, Hamas and its patrons in Tehran are listening.

But you’ve taken rhetorical acrobatics to new heights. In your Sunday editorial—as its title reveals off the bat—Israel bears responsibility for “becoming a pariah state.” According to your assessment, “While it’s true that the world’s smug, sanctimonious attitude towards a just war that Israel has every right to fight is ludicrous and a disgusting double standard, our leaders made decisions that paved the way.”

If readers were wondering what, in your view, spurred the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor to push for arrest warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and the International Court of Justice’s ruling that Israel must halt its moves in Rafah that will harm civilians, you provided an answer that would have pleased both bodies.

“[W]hen Israel began its military operation, it didn’t do enough to give off the impression that it was concerned with the Palestinian population at large,” you asserted, using the example of “statements by government officials who said that basic needs will be cut off.”

Your failure to specify the “government officials” highlighted in January by the ICJ in its hearings on South Africa’s antisemitic “genocide” case against Israel was probably purposeful. Naming them would have put a damper on your argument, after all.

While you were suggesting that “right-wing extremists” were the culprits, the court’s statement indicates otherwise. Referring to “comments made by senior Israeli politicians that contained inciting and dehumanizing rhetoric,” the ICJ didn’t even mention National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir or Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

No, the kangaroo tribunal pointed the finger at Gallant and President Isaac Herzog—the former for saying “that Israel is ‘fighting against human animals,’” and the latter for claiming “that Palestinians are collectively responsible” for Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, on the grounds that “they could have risen up [and] and fought against that evil regime.”

Given the nature of the massacre on that Black Sabbath nearly eight months ago, with Hamas terrorists committing the worst atrocities against Jews since the Holocaust, the above remarks were not only justified; they were perfectly reasonable. Indeed, the only problem with Gallant’s calling them “human animals” is that actual beasts are instinctual, not sadistic, creatures.

And Herzog, if anything, was being overly delicate. As it happens, some Gazan civilians participated in Hamas’s invasion of southern Israel; others cheered at the sight of brutalized men, women and children—bound and bloodied—being hauled into the Strip for use as sex slaves and bargaining chips. Still others held and tormented hostages in their homes.

Meanwhile, a whopping 80% of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) support Hamas and lauded the massacre. Fully aware of these facts, The Jerusalem Post had to acknowledge that Israel’s “law-abiding core” puts it in an “impossible position” where confronting a terrorist organization that doesn’t play by the rules is concerned.

Nevertheless, the editorial admonished, “the approach preached by some that Israel will fight alone if it must is dangerous and hotheaded.” This was a not-so-veiled nod to Netanyahu’s response to Washington’s threat to withhold offensive weapons for a Rafah operation: that, if necessary, Israel will fight and win the war against Hamas “with our fingernails.”

In a video message on May 9, he reiterated, “If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone. But we have much more than fingernails, and with that same strength of spirit, with God’s help, together we will win.”

This sentiment didn’t sit right with the Post.

“We live in a globalized world that is increasingly interconnected and inter-reliant,” the editorial said. “We can’t do this alone, and we don’t want to lose our allies, near and far—it is simply not a strategic way of acting. Isolationist attitudes will not get us what we want.”

Talk about inverting reality. It’s the radical Islamist Iranian axis, along with fellow travelers on the “enlightened” left, that’s trying to isolate Israel, not the other way around. Nor is Israel at fault when its allies behave like foes.

“This is not a call for blame,” the editorial assured. “But for deep introspection and recalibration, especially for our own elected officials.”

The clincher was in the final passage: “As War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Friday after the ICJ announced its decision, ‘The State of Israel set out on a just operation, left with no choice after a cruel terrorist organization massacred our civilians, raped our women, kidnapped our children and shot rockets towards our cities. Israel remains steadfast in its fight to return the hostages and ensure security to its citizens, wherever and whenever that may be—even in Rafah.’

“‘We will continue to operate according to international law in Rafah and in any place we operate, and endeavor to avoid harming the civilian population—not because of the ICJ, but because, first and foremost, that is who we are.’”

Uh, yeah. So, how do his words differ from those of Netanyahu or the rest of the country? Does the Post imagine that the tone will assuage the ICC and ICJ? Does it believe that if Gantz were at the helm, Spain, Norway and Ireland wouldn’t be recognizing a Palestinian state that doesn’t exist but which backs Israel’s elimination?

It’s the paper’s prerogative to groom Gantz as its pick for Israel’s next prime minister. But casting a shadow on the very conduct that’s being seized upon by ill-wishers to discriminate against the Jewish state is unconscionable.

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