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Axis of Appeasement By: Jacob Laksin
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, July 17, 2006


Hardly had Israeli jets crossed Lebanese airspace last week, in belated retaliation against Hezbollah terrorists to match the ongoing battle against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, then the Jewish state's detractors on the far Left launched their smear offensive.
 
Literally within hours of Israeli strikes on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, the left-wing blogoshpere was atwitter with talk of a looming " Israeli quagmire." Israeli defense strategists had given no indication that a formal occupation was their intention, but that failed to restrain the keyboard commandos from condemning the Israeli Defense Forces' supposed lack of an " exist strategy." In what may well be a record in the annals of left-wing defeatism, Israel had lost the war before it had even begun.
 
The reliably unhinged Juan Cole, giving voice to another popular reaction on the anti-Israel amen corner on his Informed Comment blog, denounced the Israeli attacks "despicable," and added that "[t]he Israelis are actually talking about causing 'pain to the Lebanese.'" Conveniently, Cole provided no source for the incriminating quote. Nor was there any merit to the charge. In contrast to Hezbollah guerillas, who had used southern Lebanon as a base of operations for firing rockets on Israeli civilians, Israel has unfailingly taken precautions to avoid civilian casualties, even at the risk of injury to Israeli troops. Last week, for instance, Israeli planes dropped leaflets cautioning residents to avoid areas where Hezbollah operates--this even as the Shiite terrorist outfit, demonstrating its usual contempt for innocent life, positioned itself in the midst of densely populated civilian areas so as to draw Israeli fire and exploit any unintended civilian deaths for propaganda purposes. At the same time, Hezbollah continued its aerial bombardment of Israeli civilians. Last Thursday alone the terrorist group fired over 100 Katyusha rockets into northern Israel, each one intended to claim a civilian life, killing two Israeli women and destroying Israeli businesses. Not that one would know it by reading the more incensed anti-Israel screeds. Some attacks, evidently, are more "despicable" than others.

Rather than confronting the bare fact of Hamas and Hezbollah's relentless aggression, left-wing commentators indulged their sizeable penchant for conspiracy theorizing. Thus Juan Cole stated his confidence that the Israeli attacks were premeditated, writing that "it is clear that the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon has given an opening to Israeli hawks to invade Lebanese territory again." Cole could not be troubled to explain why Israel waited more than a year after Syria's May 2005 withdrawal to carry out its alleged plan.

Likewise, Tel Aviv University linguistics professor Tanya Reinhart , a protégé of Noam Chomsky, assured her readers that the "Israeli army is hungry for war." Of Israel's military campaign in Gaza, a clear attempt to halt Palestinian rocket attacks and to secure the release of the kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, Reinhart claimed that it had been conceived far in advance. In Reinhart's version of events, the Israeli "army was preparing for an attack months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of destroying the Hamas infrastructure and its government."

The absurdity of Reinhart's speculation quite apart, it's hard to see why an Israeli assault on the Hamas government would have been unjustified. Hamas after all is committed to the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people, a mission that the terrorist group's ascent to power has done nothing to alter, as evidenced by the fact that it has discharged some 800 rockets into Israel in just the last year while encouraging suicide bombings and, most recently, raids into Israeli territory. For her part, Reinhart maintained that Hamas since its election had embraced peace and "did not participate in the launching of Qassams, except under severe Israeli provocation," a statement that was equal parts false and self-negating.

Where conspiracy theories ended, the far-Left's notorious double standard for Israel and its terrorist enemies began. Writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sandy Tolan, a professor in the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California-Berkeley, was full of spleen against "extreme Israeli measures in the name of security." But if Palestinian terrorists deserved any blame for the current conflagration--and it was unclear from Tolan's op-ed that they did--it was for the trivial offense of lobbing the occasional "crude Qassam rocket falling harmlessly, far from its target." By contrast, Israel stood convicted of allowing "hundreds of shells [to] rain down on the Palestinians." Such mitigating details as the distinction between defensive strikes on terrorist targets and an intentional murder campaign against Israeli civilians did not intrude on Tolan's David vs. Goliath narrative. Sounding a similar theme, the Nation's Marwan Bishara explained that, "Whether we like it or not, Hamas, like Hezbollah, is mostly a byproduct of an oppressive occupation, not the other way around." Notably absent from Bishara's preferred plotline was the fact that the end of the "occupation" in Hamas's domain of Gaza last year and Hezbollah-run southern Lebanon in 2000 did not correspond with the end of the respective terrorist groups' militancy--and, it could plausibly be argued, succeeded only in fueling it.

Nowhere was the far Left's glorification of terrorism and reflexive hostility to Israel more transparent than on its ideologically affiliated blogs. Posters on the DailyKos continued that site's well-documented dalliance with political extremism, with perhaps the most inflammatory entry asking readers to "imagine a world without Israel." (It's impossible to imagine the Kossacks wishing for a world without Palestinian terrorism.) Another leftist blog put the received political wisdom yet more bluntly: "The Israeli response to legitimate Palestinian resistance (and Lebanese too, there are still outstanding issues there) is, as always, diproportionate [sic] and reactive."

When news reports failed consistently to portray Israel as the brutal aggressor crushing the will of the Palestinian "resistance" and waging "full frontal assault against the people and territory of Lebanon" (as liberal blogger Steve Clemons put it), anti-Israel partisans turned on the mainstream media. Fringe polemicist Kurt Nimmo lamented that "the corporate media spin of Israeli mass murder in Lebanon, undoubtedly supported by the Israeli people, continues unabated." On the Huffington Post, journalist Eric Boehlert complained that the coverage was slanted in favor of Israel: "At this point I don't think its' even controversial to suggest the Arab-Israeli conflict is told in the United States mostly through the eyes of Israelis, and that's especially true on cable news channels." As an example of a pro-Israel media outlet, Boehlert pointed to CNN--a claim that would doubtless come as a surprise to supporters of Israel who have followed the network's consistently critical coverage over the years.

Superficial differences notwithstanding, the far-Left's response to Israel's two-pronged military campaign has been informed by one unifying theme: the Jewish state has no right to defend itself against the terrorists openly seeking its destruction. This consensus is not entirely to be regretted. As their country opens a new front to vanquish a terrorist foe, Israelis can take some comfort in the understanding that, in the streets of Gaza and southern Lebanon as on countless blogs and op-ed pages, their enemies remain the same.

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Jacob Laksin is managing editor of Front Page Magazine. His email is jlaksin -at- gmail.com


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