Military and political aspects here, international opinion here, etymology of Cast Lead, and first, second, and third parts about the Arab World’s opinion, and the Israeli public’s reaction (at time of writing).
The reaction of the Jewish world in the diaspora to the events in Gaza has been, frankly, highly disappointing. Not extremely surprising, but disappointing nonetheless. I do not mean that I expected an outpouring of support for Israel, but at the very least, not to take an indefensible stand against Israel. Granted, most young American Jews don’t care about Israel very much, but, as a Zionist, I cannot help but express my disdain for opinions that, in effect, value Israel’s enemy over the lives of fellow Jews.
I attended a rally in support of Israel last week, in Washington D.C. No, I still don’t believe rallies and demonstrations from over here change much over there. However, I was pleased to see that most of the Jewish community and its leaders do support Israel and do support Israel’s self-defense. In the back of the room (the rally took place in a synogogue that is also used to host events from time to time), there were two girls holding up signs saying “Not in my name.” I wanted to say, that if that is how you think, and you say that from over here – then yes, Israel is not acting in your name, for you have effectively cut yourself off from the Jewish people. You have rendered yourself solely part of some amorphous group that calls itself “culturally Jewish,” or “Jew-ish.” Jews are a people, and don’t worry, Israel doesn’t act in your name, Israel acts in defense of the Jewish state.
About eight months ago, an organization by the name of J Street was founded, a left-wing political action committee on issues relating to Israel and the Middle East. They portend to represent the silent majority among American Jews, which I doubt. But if they do, American Jewry is even more hopeless than I thought. Relatively early during the Gaza campaign, they came out with a long statement, calling for an immediate end for violence in the region, and showed their utter lack of understanding when it comes to Israel:
While there is nothing “right” in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing “right” in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them.
I could go on about how Israel is not “punishing” anyone. Punitive actions have not be carried out by Israel in decades. I could call them on the moral equivalency they, in effect, claim exists between Israel and Hamas’s actions. I could criticize their extreme naviete, at best, and at worst, their willingness to allow Israelis to be targets of Hamas’s antisemitism. However, others have done this for me. First, Eric Yoffie (president of the Union for Reform Judaism), not a man with whom I ordinarily agree, has responded to J Street directly, calling their statement “deeply distressing” and “morally deficient,” and he correctly sees the “Israeli government doing what it must to end rocket attacks against its citizenry.”
Another, much harsher, response to J Street, takes an extra step and calls them anti-Israel. Noah Pollack writes in Commentary’s blog, Contentions, and questions “any limits to [J Street’s] capacity for self-delusion about the nature of Hamas,” and declares: “It is time that thinking people started calling J Street what it actually is — an anti-Israel group.” Even Jeffrey Goldberg, on the opposite end of the political spectrum from most of Commentary’s writers, said about their statement: “J Street Blows It.”
James Kirchick, also at Contentions, made the strongest argument against J Street. Since arguing with them point-by-point would be futile, Kirchick said this: “Street has the right to its extreme leftist, capitulationist opinions, but it does not have the right to claim, as Ben-Ami once did, that it represents the “broad, sensible mainstream of pro-Israel American Jews.’” Game. Set. Match. They have every right to their opinions. However, they represent, largely, well, themselves.
Another player on the Jewish world scene is blog, Jewschool. With the start of Cast Lead, this was posted. Advocating against Israeli self-defense, the writer preempts any intellectual discourse, calling it a “perverse game of rhetorical ping-pong,” and accuses Israel of “squeezing the life out of Gaza.” I might be not up to date on the latest terminology, but will someone please explain to me how allowing thousands of tons of medical supplies and food furthers a cause of “squeezing the life out of Gaza”? Not to mention the warnings, so that empty buildings will be hit, or the dud missiles, or the Gazans being treated by Israel, in Israeli facilities. But no, the Jewish world’s reaction is apparently another example of “protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass.” He accuses world Jewry of practicing a double-standard against Israel. Unbelievable.
While in France, and in New York people rally in defense of Israel, on sites such as Jewschool and in Canada Jewish groups attack “Israel’s massacre,” effectively in defense of Hamas. The Canadian group is either confusing or practicing demagoguery, drawing a false analogy between targeting civilians and implementing a ground offensive. With regards to larger organizations, here is JTA’s overview of their positions.
To sum up, most of world Jewry supports the operation, but an increasingly loud minority, claiming to represent more people than they actually do, has come out against Israel, not only from a strategic standpoint, but claiming Israel has no moral standing to act in self-defense.