The penchant to pass judgement on every Israeli counterterror operation is becoming quite an enjoyable blood sport for the unfriendly-to-Israel crowd. Too many foreign leaders have gotten into the increasingly vulgar practice of second-guessing everything Israel does to fight terror.
Pushing back against this trend is long overdue. Fortunately, Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz followed the lead of former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week in rejecting the State Department’s call for a change in the IDF’s rules of engagement in Judea and Samaria.
Nonetheless, foreign attempts to interfere in Israel’s security posture and operations continue. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pressed Israeli officials about Israel’s rules of engagement, and the U.S. embassy in Israel is reportedly “investigating” the record of the IDF Netzach Yehuda battalion, which has been embroiled in several problematic shooting and beating incidents, including the death of another Palestinian-American dual citizen, 78-year-old Omar As’ad.
Washington is still demanding “accountability” from the Israeli military, not just an acknowledgement of responsibility, in regard to the shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a firefight between the IDF and Palestinian terrorists in May. This apparently means that Washington wants some Israeli soldiers scalped and impaled on a spike for all to see.
Acting with similar chutzpah, diplomats from 19 European countries last month insolently demanded explanations from Israel regarding an IDF raid on the offices of seven Palestinian NGOs that Israel has classified as terror groups affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The European diplomats impudently declared they did not accept Israel’s terror designation, barking that they had not received “any evidence” to validate that claim.
Apparently, the plucky, expert and high-minded European diplomats know better than Israel about the inner workings and plotting of Palestinian terror supporters. Therefore, they insist on continuing to bankroll these NGOs. So there, Israel!
At a higher volume than ever, U.S. and European diplomats have taken to judging and criticizing Israel’s security and settlement operations in eastern Jerusalem, including such places as Shimon Hatzadik (Sheikh Jarrah), Ir David (Silwan) and, of course, Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) itself.
In regard to the Mount, the brave foreign critics have had a lot to say about Israeli police response to Arab rioters, but very little to say about the Wakf/Palestinian Authority’s transformation of the site into an armed camp for open warfare—not to mention regular incitement against Israel and Jews.
The Biden administration also seems to have opened a new front against Israel regarding restrictions on foreign travel to Judea and Samaria. Washington is upset by new regulations scheduled to take effect next month that allow Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to control the entry of foreign students and lecturers to Judea and Samaria, as well as foreign spouses married to Palestinians.
The administration’s criticism ignores the fact that 99% of applications to visit Palestinian towns and institutions are approved by COGAT, with only a handful of visas disallowed to prevent the arrival of known anti-Israel agitators.
All this takes me back to the super-quick global criticism of Israel whenever the IDF gets into actual combat with the likes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The temerity and hypocrisy of such critics is simply astounding. Just who exactly has the right to tell Israel how to defend its borders? Perhaps the European Union or the United Nations Security Council, neither of which has done anything about the 11-year-long slaughter in Syria or Iran’s subversive activities across the Middle East?
I say to these critics: None of you have the right to jeer Israel’s defensive actions in the territories and along its borders, nor Israeli military operations beyond its borders—even if the IDF were to use devastating and indiscriminate force, which it doesn’t.
Israel need not apologize for defending itself against Palestinian terror cells, Palestinian terror tunnels, Palestinian rocket barrages and yes, pro-terrorist anti-Israel NGOs. By the same token, Israel need not apologize for striking Iranian terror posts and armament depots in Syria and Lebanon.
Israel must never apologize for repeatedly reminding the world that Jews are not foreigners in their ancestral homeland. Israel is not an occupying force in the Sharon plains, or the sand dunes of the Negev adjoining Gaza, or the hilltops of Judea and Samaria, or in Jerusalem. It has a right to defend its homeland without being subjected to cheeky censure and supercilious second-guessing.
Broadly speaking, I feel that the nations of the world ought to be exceedingly circumspect in telling Israel what to do, how to conduct its politics, where to erect its security fences, how to conduct its military campaigns, where to draw its borders and how to defend them or what ancestral lands to trade away—if at all.
Having failed the Jewish people throughout history, all the way through the Holocaust, and having been so wrong in their Pollyannaish hopes for the Oslo Accords, the Arab Spring and the Iran nuclear deal, the nations of the world ought to give Israeli leaders the benefit of the doubt. They ought to respect Israeli decision-making, not sneer at it, when Israel’s leaders proceed cautiously in the diplomatic arena or act resolutely in the security sphere.
As former Prime Minister Menachem Begin once challenged and chastised the German chancellor, “Are we a vassal state? And would you prefer a weak Israel?”
David M. Weinberg is a senior fellow at the Kohelet Forum and Habithonistim: Israel’s Defense and Security Forum. His diplomatic, defense, political and Jewish world columns over the past 25 years are archived at www.davidmweinberg.com.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.