Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Difference in Core Values Between Israel & Hamas

Much was made of Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip late last year. A lot of the news centered on the civilian suffering and casualties caused by the engagement.

A new report by the group Human Rights Watch, and discussed here by Richard Cohen, sheds additional light on the topic:
Some residents of Gaza were taken from their homes and shot in the legs or feet. Some were brutally beaten and some were simply murdered, sometimes after hideous torture.

If you are expecting — based on everything that has happened — that the awful Israelis did this, guess again. It was Hamas, the authentic and genuine government of Gaza. Well, no one's perfect.

The information about the shootings is taken from a report issued Monday by Human Rights Watch and available on its Web site. It says that "Hamas security forces or masked gunmen believed to be with Hamas" executed 18 people, most of whom were accused of collaborating with Israel, sparing the expense and bother of a trial.

Others were shot, maimed or beaten, not for allegedly collaborating with the enemy — or, as is invariably the case, having a house or woman that a snitch covets — but for belonging to the opposition political party, Fatah.

No doubt the Human Rights Watch report will be ignored or dismissed in the greater cause of demonizing Israel. This has been the trend of late. No doubt, too, some will excuse Hamas' criminality as the inevitable result of Israeli actions — the Officer Krupke School of Behavior made famous by the singing gang members of "West Side Story."

But as much as some would like to criticize Israel — and I have done so myself — they still have a minimal obligation to acknowledge the difference in core values between it and its enemies.

Human Rights Watch is to be commended. It does not have one standard for Israel and another for Hamas, Hezbollah or the other despotic regimes of the Arab world.

That is more than can be said, though, for critics who vilify Israel, romanticize Hamas and clearly have never had the inexpressible pleasure of living in a place where a chance remark can get your legs riddled with lead. Say what you will, but that place could never be Israel.


Charles D said...

HRW does a great job presenting a balanced picture of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the atrocities on both sides.

I have some problem with the idea of "core values" here. I don't think the majority of Palestinians approve of Hamas' summary executions of accused "collaborators" or even of their terrorist attacks on Israel. Nor do I think that the majority of Israelis approve of the harsh treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government and military.

Most ordinary people simply want to live their lives in freedom and dignity, free of the threat of violence, and with the hope of a better life for their children. It is those desires that may eventually lead to peace.

As Americans, I believe we should have an open and honest discussion of our "special relationship" with Israel. Is this relationship beneficial to us or to the Israeli people? Can we maintain this relationship and still pose as an honest broker of Middle East peace? Unfortunately it is almost impossible to engage in that discussion without being accused of being anti-Semitic.

Cameron said...

The "core values" argument is summed up in the final sentence, "Say what you will, but that place could never be Israel."