When the history of this war is written, it will be recalled that:
Britain abandoned Israel.
The principled initial position of Prime Minister David Cameron in support of Israel was gradually eroded to the point where, on August 12, the British ministry of trade announced that if Hamas attacked Israel again, it would halt some of its arms sales to Israel. No, you did not misread that. If the terrorist government of Gaza, sworn to destroy Israel, initiated new violence against Israel, Britain will stop selling Israel some of the arms it needs to keep its people safe.
(The actual wording of Trade Secretary Vince Cables statement: “The UK government has not been able to clarify if the export licence criteria [for Israel] are being met. In light of that uncertainty we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licences in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.” Italics mine)
It goes without saying that the UN mustered all of its skewed forums to harm Israel, and that most of the Arab world piled on energetically too — even those countries who know to their own bloody cost the sheer inhumanity of Islamist terrorist organizations. The hostility demonstrated elsewhere in the international arena was shocking, but not surprising either. But Britain, central to the revival of the Jewish homeland in the last century, took a step that, were it not for Israel’s own capabilities and other alliances, would begin the process of rendering Israel helpless in the face of those who seek to annihilate it. And that is beyond reprehensible. It is a moral failure of the first order. It should shame all those who played a part in producing such a move. And quite apart from the impact on Israel, it must profoundly trouble all those of us who love and appreciate Britain and who care for Britain’s future.
The United States broadly and crucially stood by Israel.
Centrally, it stood by Israel at key diplomatic junctures, stood by Israel in the vital military partnership, saw its elected politicians stand robustly by Israel in its hour of need, and was led by an administration whose heart was in the right place but whose head has never quite internalized the vicious ruthlessness of the Middle East. Declaring that Israel has “the right to defend itself,” as the president, the secretary of state and other top officials did repeatedly, was welcome and necessary. But the fuller message should have been that Israel has an obligation to defend itself against an organization that took immorality in warfare to new depths, abusing mosques, schools, homes and using Gazans in some cases literally as human shields in its relentless efforts to kill Israelis. That more robust defense could, in turn, have cemented stronger support for Israel elsewhere.
And the United States should now be leading an international chorus that makes clear there can be no unsupervised easing of access to Gaza so long as Hamas is capable of abusing such access to rebuild its war machine. It’s not too late for the US to set out and champion a morally clear policy that makes plain that there is shared international will to rehabilitate Gaza, and a shared international will to ensure no repeat of the violence of the past five weeks — and that the only way to achieve this is to disarm Hamas. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we’re going to see that from a president who said last week that Hamas had been acting “extraordinarily irresponsibly” in firing thousands of rockets into Israel. Was that really the most appropriate terminology this articulate world leader could find?
International journalism did a dismal job reporting this conflict.
Some news outlets deliberately, maliciously and relentlessly skewed their reporting to consistently misrepresent the conflict to Israel’s extreme detriment, whether with outright falsehoods or selective presentation of information. Others simply failed to document the Hamas war against Israel — whether because of intimidation, cowardice, incompetence, or the genuine grave dangers and complexities of reporting from Gaza. It seems curious that only a single Indian TV team proved capable of filming one of the hundreds upon hundreds of Hamas rocket launches from amid residential Gaza, and only one Finnish journalist was able to report on rocket fire from Gaza City’s main hospital.
Even if one is prepared to accept that Hamas made it impossible for journalists to provide viewers and readers with material showing both sides of the war, then that failure is compounded by the media refusal to acknowledge the limitations on reporting. Only after five full weeks of fighting did the Foreign Press Association here issue a statement acknowledging the fact, declaring that the FPA “protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month… The international media are not advocacy organizations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground,” the FPA declared mightily. Except the media can be prevented from reporting fairly, and in this conflict often were.
Israel’s own foreign minister consistently undermined his government.
He publicly railed against its policies, and he constantly criticized the decisions to which he was party as a member of the country’s most important, eight-strong decision-making forum.
Around the world, notably in Europe, the conflict was seized upon by anti-Semites.
It was exploited by haters in a wave of hostility without recent parallel — at demonstrations, through vandalism and physical attack, via economic pressure, and by an outpouring of bile on social media.
If there remained a temptation to believe that anti-Semitism had been well and truly marginalized after World War II, the past weeks indicate that the immediate post-war period was a blip, and that the oldest disease is flaring to epidemic proportions again — with potentially drastic implications for many Jewish communities around the world, and indeed for Israel.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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