Judging by what you see, hear, and read, only two things are going on in the world right now: the oil spill in the Gulf and Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip. And to put it mildly, the whole world seems to be coming down on Israel.
As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote, people who “are unmoved by Syria’s involvement in the murder” of Lebanon’s prime minister or by “the Iranian regime’s killing of its own citizens,” are beside themselves with rage at the Jewish state—all because it dared to stop a flotilla of so-called “relief ships” from sailing to Gaza.
Christians cannot let this go unchallenged.
Lost in all the self-righteous denunciations are the reasons why Israel declared the blockade of Gaza in 2007. A Palestinian civil war had left Gaza under the control of Hamas, a terrorist organization that has never recognized Israel’s right to exist.
Those very same European governments decrying the blockade and whose citizens are trying to run it, withheld aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006.
They were right to. After Hamas gained control of Gaza, it launched suicide bombers and thousands of missiles into Israel.
The goal of the Israeli blockade is to stop weapons from getting to Hamas. Israel must protect its citizens. That is any state’s first duty. Just as it was for President Kennedy when the U. S. Navy blockaded Cuba during the missile crisis in 1962.
Of course, Israel isn’t just any state. It was created by the UN as a homeland for the most persecuted peoples in history, surrounded by enemies of freedom.
Israel’s enemies are clever. The attempt to run the blockade that set off the current controversy was clearly a provocation by pro-Palestinian outsiders. Its goal was to provoke a response—which then creates a pretext for yet another round of condemnation.
But Israel’s response was proportionate—good by just war standards. They could have sunk the ships; instead, they boarded them, putting their own troops in peril. The loss of life was tragic, but cannot be laid entirely at Israel’s feet.
My defense of Israel shouldn’t be taken for a defense of the status quo. A just, two-state solution is imperative. But what is needed is less of what Friedman calls “grandstanding interventions” by outsiders: whether it’s blockade-running by the Islamist-appeasing left or “wealthy American Jews who fund extremist settlers’ housing” in Palestinian areas. Left alone, Friedman argues—and I agree—Israel and the Palestinians can reach a solution. In fact, they’re making progress toward it.
My other concern is how the criticism of Israel, which can be legitimate, morphs into anti-Semitism, especially in Europe. Some of it is driven by radical Islamic interests—some of it is not. Tragically, Europeans seem to have forgotten their own recent history.
Well, we need to remind them. Christians have an obligation to all persecuted people, but especially the Jews. Never forget the words of God in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse.” he says to the covenant people.
We need to denounce the double standard applied to Israel. It has a right like any other sovereign nation to protect itself from those who would do it and its people harm.