New Yorkers know what it is like to be under fire from terrorists. So it was more than appropriate that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Congressman Gary Ackerman flew to Israel to show their support for that nation’s latest effort to defend itself from the forces of hatred and barbarism.
The New Yorkers delivered a clear message: Israel has every right to respond to the brutal rocket attacks that have terrorized villages near the Gaza Strip. Regrettably but perhaps not surprisingly, such common sense is all too rare these days. European critics seem to believe that Israel has no right to defend itself. What’s more, they appear to believe that the terrorists are actually victims of Israeli aggression. George Orwell surely would have appreciated such logic.
The presence of the mayor, commissioner and congressman in Israel was important, for Israel is never more friendless than when it fires back against its terrorist enemies. The world’s rules of engagement apparently do not apply to Israel in the eyes of critics. When the United States was attacked on 9/11, it responded with massive firepower, routing the Taliban from power and inflicting heavy casualties. Few found fault with the American response; none dared call it disproportionate.
But when Israel responded to months of daily rocket fire with its campaign in Gaza, the usual crowd of unthinking critics immediately denounced the move as the moral equivalent of a war crime. They argued that Israel’s response was out of proportion to the Hamas provocation. One wonders if they would say the same thing if they were on the firing line in southern Israel.
Simply put, no nation on earth would fail to respond to rocket fire on its citizens. What is remarkable about the current offensive is not that it is taking place, but that it took so long to unfold. Israel exhibited extraordinary patience in the face of the Hamas barrage. It responded only when it became clear that Hamas had no intention of halting its campaign against Israeli civilians. What government would do otherwise?
The Israeli foreign minister and other officials have done a creditable job responding to critics, patiently explaining that they did not fire the first shot, but surely hope to fire the last shot. But they should not be lonely voices. American politicians and commentators must rally to Israel’s side in this contentious hour, for the battle in Gaza is America’s battle and the West’s battle. So long as Hamas finds sympathy throughout the world despite their despicable actions, they will continue to bait the Israelis and many lives will be lost.
The terrorists who target civilians in southern Israel have a quarrel not just with Jews, but with America, the West, and the 21st century. New Yorkers know all too well that terrorism is hardly contained to the Middle East. We are in the cross hairs, just as surely as Israel is.
The Hamas rockets have a limited range, but the ideology of those who fire them spans oceans and continents. Israel understands that. New Yorkers understand that. We should be thankful that we have leaders like Messrs. Bloomberg, Kelly, and Ackerman who understand that Israel must not stand alone. We are in this fight, too.