Why I support Israel

August 04, 2014

By Lea Z. Singh |

The fact is, many Jewish people wouldn't even like me. Having worked in New York City alongside many politically liberal Jews, I felt like a total outcast at times with my socially conservative values. The word “Republican” was more like a curse word than a political party among some of these Jewish lawyers. It was entertaining to watch the shock on their faces when my photo appeared on the front page of the New York Times City section one morning, with me holding a rifle at a NYC shooting range. What a scandal.

So I know very well that the affection does not always flow both ways, and it’s not for cuddles and hugs that I support Israel in the present conflict against Hamas. In fact, I don’t like all that much about Israel. Their politics is liberal on many of the moral issues that I care deeply about, and my opinions would not be very welcome there. 

Being attacked gives you the right to fight

If Israel were just targeting innocent civilians unnecessarily, it would be wrong. But Hamas are hiding their rockets and their fighters among civilians, they are using neutral places like schools and places of refuge to hide their rockets and launch attacks. What alternative is there for Israel then? On principle, if someone attacks you, you have a right to defend yourself.

I've seen it suggested that Israel should be more precise in the use of their technology. Well, technology isn't perfect yet, although Israel certainly has the top of the line. As in the case of abortion, the direct and intentional murder of innocents cannot be justified, not even as a "lesser evil for greater good", but where such death is a side-effect of a legitimate self-defence, that is a different story.

The deaths of those innocent Palestinians who have been caught in the crossfire fall on the shoulders of Hamas, not Israel. In its ideological frenzy, Hamas willingly uses its own population as sitting ducks and as human shields for their weaponry. If anything is a violation of the ethical norms of civilized warfare, this is surely it. Hamas forces Israel to fight back through a line of civilian bodies, because it loves the worldwide propaganda this creates against Israel. Hamas is indirectly killing its own people to help it score points in the media. 

It's a brilliant tactic by Hamas, as shown by its incredible effectiveness. The world media is squarely focused on the suffering of the Palestinian people, and many regular people get the impression that Israel is wreaking carnage without justification. If all you look at is the heart-wrenching photos of bloody Palestinian children and civilians, which dominate mainstream media, then the Hamas propaganda machine starts to seem especially smart but evil.

While tactics and photos might sway public opinion, they don't actually move the truth to your side. The principle of legitimate self-defence stays the same, and on that principle Israel deserves support.

Democracy versus dictatorship

Let's not forget that Israel is a modern democracy. Democracies often have a hard time agreeing on anything, and waging war is a big deal for a democracy. There are certain checks and balances present when staunchly opposed opinions have to come together to agree on any major policy like that. So when a modern democracy launches into a war, especially a war of self-defence, I do believe that there should be a certain presumption of reasonableness in its favour, at least until proven otherwise.

On the other side of the conflict, we have a dictatorship run by terrorists. Doesn't that speak for itself? Hamas train teenagers to strap bombs onto their bodies, promise them virgins in heaven, and send them to blow up cafes and buses and other civilian hotspots. They have already launched over 3000 rockets with abandon, and the only reason they haven't been successful at mass murder is that they are technologically incapable of breaking through Israel's Iron Dome defence system. If they could, they surely would - and the body count ratios would change dramatically. Do these terrorists really deserve our sympathy?

Jews, not Arabs, are the world's outcasts

Finally, yet another reason why the Western world, and especially Europe, should be supporting Israel is this:

The Jewish people have suffered so much in the last hundred years that it staggers the mind. The hatred and viciousness that Europe unleashed against them 70 years ago is truly incomprehensible.

And I do mean Europe, not just Germany and not just the Nazis. So many more people were complicit, so many ordinary people, neighbours and colleagues and friends, people who never had any fingers pointed at them after the war ended. Anti-Semitism runs very deep in Europe, and it is still there to this very day. We should all be ashamed.

After what the Jews endured in World War II, much of the world agreed that they deserved their own land, free of harassment and hatred. Let's not forget that Israel was created with support from the United States, Britain and the nascent United Nations after the war, as a place of refuge for the raggedy remains of the nearly annihilated Jewish people.

I believe that it is still our duty, as the descendants of those who caused the Jewish people to suffer so terribly, to help them and support them. I am not aware of any actual anti-Semitism or participation in the Nazi genocide by my own Czech ancestors, but anti-Semitism seems to have been widespread among the Czech people before the Second World War, so we contributed to the climate of discrimination which Hitler used for his evil purpose. There were concentration camps throughout Europe, even in Czechoslovakia.

(Note: Today, the Czech Republic scores fairly low on the anti-Semitism scale, as measured by a recent major survey by the Anti-Defamation League. The CR came in at 13%, and many other European countries measured much higher).

The genocide of World War II happened recently enough that some of the survivors of concentration camps are still alive, and many Jewish families still bear the pain of having lost almost their entire extended families. It is not ancient history. It is way too early to wipe the slate clean and say that what previous generations did does not concern us.

So that sums it up for me, and this is why I support Israel in the present conflict, in the right to defend itself, and in the right to exist.

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