Israel is attempting to deal rationally with an enemy crazed with lust for our death

Mira Bar-Hillel’s attack on me is prejudiced and ignores the facts

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The Independent Online

Earlier this month on Independent Voices, Mira Bar-Hillel wrote a passionate denunciation of Israeli conduct in Gaza. One of the most read and most shared pieces in the history of the site, it made waves around the world and led to Bar-Hillel appearing on BBC Radio's Today programme.

An Israeli passport-holder, Bar-Hillel reserved particularly strong criticism for Knesset member Ayelet Shaked. Here, Ms Shaked responds.

Mira Bar-Hillel wrote on Independent Voices earlier this month that she was threatening to burn her Israeli Passport on my account. Apparently, Ms. Bar Hillel envisions that behind my “wide-eyed innocent face lurks the Angel of Death.”

Her reason for this act of great defiance is a vision she receives when she looks at my picture. But Ms. Bar Hillel's issue goes beyond just me. As she once told Haaretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer back in 2012: “Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.”

She declares her prejudice against Jews (“Alas”) and I suspect that, like every prejudice, it has no reliable basis.

Let's talk facts. Every missile shot by Hamas is a blunt violation of two Geneva Convention articles: shooting missiles from inside civilian population centers, and shooting them indiscriminately at Israeli population centers. Israel, on the other hand, directs its attacks strictly at military targets.

Would you, a private citizen of Great Britain not demand your government to defend you against enemy shooting rockets at London? You actually did, and in response, your government firebombed the German city of Dresden and annihilated millions of civilians across Germany.

Your leaders saw no need to regard German civilians differently than they did the German military, not because they didn't care for the innocent, but because had they tried to win the war while keeping German civilians unharmed they would have lost the war and possibly their freedom.

Your leaders saw no need for proportionality in going out to defend you, because the very notion of proportionality in these instances is deeply immoral. Must your citizens be murdered in broad daylight because your country is militarily stronger?

Doesn't Israel have the right to defend itself?

As Bar-Hillel put it: “In Israel, in spite of Hamas’s best efforts, not one death has been recorded, nor any serious injuries, although a wedding party was disrupted and got on the television news.”

Besides being inaccurate even at the time, she actually finds fault in the fact that fewer Israelis died. Never mind that this war began with a clear Hamas decision to escalate the conflict, a decision borne by political and economic motives, and not an ounce of care to their own civilians.

While Israel invests heavily in protecting its civilians, Hamas protects its weapons with its civilians.

Hamas is not attacking only the Jews, it's attacking the Israeli democracy, comprised of more than a million non-Jews.

Bar-Hillel loses all moral ground when she delves into the Holocaust, and actually compares the Jewish State, myself included, to the Nazis.

“She made me think about my mother’s sister Klara and her three small children who were living in Krakow in 1939 when the Germans invaded," she writes. "They decided that the Jews – all Jews – were the enemy and had to be eliminated, not least the women and the little snakes they were raising. 'Why? Ask them – they started it,' as the Nazis would say if asked.”

This is how she responds to an article from 12 years ago which I quoted on my Facebook page, and which pinned the blame for initiating the violence squarely on the Arab side.

Video: warning very graphic content

That is, of course, an ignorant comparison. The Nazis viewed Jews as a racial impurity in the German blood. They did not envision a conflict, armed or otherwise, which the Jews somehow provoked and now they, the Nazis, were retaliating for. They believed we were a virus that threatened their well-being by our very existence.

If anything, she should have pointed out the plethora of Nazi-like calls on Jewish annihilation made daily on Hamas TV.

If anything, she should have pointed the criminal thuggery perpetrated daily by Hamas against Jews because they're Jews — not because of some imagined or real gripe.

Finally, Bar-Hillel uses the despicable murder of an Arab youth as an argument against me, my political party and the State of Israel. What she omits, naturally, is the fact that virtually all of Israel have risen in condemnation of the murder, including myself.

She also fails to describe the glee with which Palestinians everywhere celebrated the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys by Hamas operatives a few weeks before — dancing and celebrating in the streets.

But Bar-Hillel would not be confused by these facts. Never mind that I didn't write the quoted text, only cited it. The gist of the Uri Elitzur article I cited was that once one side in a war attacks the other side’s civilians, they can no longer morally claim a special status for their own civilians during fight. Moreover, the quotes she used in order to build her argument dealt with Sha-hids and their supporters.

We're attempting to deal rationally with an enemy crazed with lust for our death. Only the other day, 13 terrorists were stopped inside Israel, having taken a tunnel into a peaceful farm community, in order to kidnap civilians living there.

When the IDF alerts civilians in Gazan neighborhoods—dumping leaflets from the air, texting their phones before the actual barrage — Hamas tells them to stay and die like martyrs. It is a tragic situation for the Palestinian population, and I wish, of course, that Hamas would not use its' civilians as human shields so that no one innocent will get hurt, but the truth need to be said — as long Hamas is doing so, they are to be blame for the results.

To understand it all, to be able to provide a balanced view of events in Israel it requires honesty, true curiosity, knowledge of the local languages, familiarity with the history of the conflict, an understanding of regional politics, and not just — alas — Bar-Hillel's prejudice.

There's nothing I can do to stop Mira Bar-Hillel from burning her Israeli passport, nor can I help with her tormented visions. But I ask her readers to regard reality in my region without her openly stated prejudice.