Six Lessons of the Gaza Conflict

Holding Fire, Hasbara and a Photo of Slain Palestinian Kids

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By Chemi Shalev (Haaretz)

Published November 22, 2012.
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  • There was no daylight between Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Israel and President Obama’s United States, not even a sliver. Most of the international community, including perfidious Europe, gave Jerusalem its unequivocal support. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leadership played a pivotal and responsible role. The media coverage, as a general rule, was balanced, but only at it worst. Israeli complaints and fears were accorded just as much sympathy, if not more, than Palestinian suffering, including the innocent women and children killed in IDF bombings.

So there is hardly any conventional Israeli wisdom that was not challenged in recent days, no entrenched Jewish notion left untouched, no right wing stereotype that was not undermined, no part of what has become the pervasive 21st century post-Goldstone and post-Marmara weltanschauung for most Israelis and many Diaspora Jews that was not contradicted, at least partially, by the world’s reaction to Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.

Israel was not alone, the world was not against us, the media was far from hostile, President Obama was a friend indeed and if anyone had a right to feel isolated, misunderstood and much-maligned in recent days, rightly or wrongly, it was the Palestinians, not us. In the entire US Congress, among 100 senators and 435 representatives, the harshest “anti-Israel” statement, if it can be described as such, was put out by the Muslim congressman from Minnesota Keith Ellison, who bravely called on both sides to “show restraint”.

Die hard guardians of Israel’s good name still pounced, of course, on an errant paragraph here or a hint of criticism there, but all in all it was slim pickings indeed for those who insist on clinging to the biblical Balaam’s description of Israel as “a nation that will dwell in solitude”, even when all the facts indicate otherwise.

  • But it wasn’t only the rigid right that was, or at least should have been, taken aback by the rebuttal of some its long held assumptions. After all, here was perennial peace-spurner Netanyahu being cuddled by his former archenemy and the hero of the liberal world Obama, as Israeli warplanes bombarded much of Gaza to smithereens. Years of predicting that Israel’s rejectionist policies will turn it into a pariah state, alone and isolated in the world arena, were undercut virtually overnight by countries that lined up to express their understanding and by newspaper editorials that voiced their empathy for Israel’s plight.

Like their right wing counterparts, however, pious leftists refused to let the facts get in the way of their dogmas: they resolved their cognitive dissonance with the magical words “Jewish lobby”, which, as the Protocols taught us long ago, has simply taken the entire world hostage.


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