The current global campaign accusing the IDF of “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” exceeds all the obscene libels that have ever been launched against the Jewish state.
One of Israel’s proudest achievements is the IDF code of conduct, which instills awareness that Israelis are obliged to act as role models of decency.
It is all the more impressive that such an ethical military code was implemented in Israel, the only country in the world which from its inception has been obliged to defend itself continuously from overt and terrorist onslaughts by neighbors who regard the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the region as their primary objective.
In fact, in an age when millions of innocent civilians are being butchered during ethnic upheavals in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, one can only attribute dark motives to the shameful demonization of the Jewish state.
Equally indecent is the adoption of Israel as the bête noir of most “liberal” human rights organizations, which invest disproportionate efforts in defaming the region’s only democracy. Some of this can be attributed to the financial support they receive from foreign governments and organizations intent on undermining the Jewish state. The hypocrisy of these groups was exemplified when one of the principal NGOs – Human Rights Watch – recently raised funds in Saudi Arabia (a country hardly renowned for concern with human rights) to defeat “pro-Israel pressure groups.”
THE GLOBAL campaign against Israel is spearheaded by a United Nations subsidiary inappropriately titled the Human Rights Council. This body, headed by countries like Iran and Libya, makes a mockery of justice and human rights and concentrates primarily on bashing Israel. Hell bent on defaming the IDF, it formed a fact-finding mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone to review alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. The terms of reference did not mention Hamas, which publicly lauds the killing of Jewish civilians and had launched over 12,000 missiles against the Jewish state. The composition of the committee guarantees that the findings will be in sync with the bias of the parent body. Israel was thus absolutely justified in refusing to cooperate.
What Israel did to minimize civilian casualties during the Gaza operation was described by Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, as unparalleled in the history of warfare. The 160-page report issued by the Foreign Ministry noted that the same IDF accused of war crimes dropped 2.5 million leaflets and telephoned 165,000 civilians providing them four hours’ notice to evacuate areas in advance of airborne attacks. Missions were cancelled at the last moment after discovering that civilians had been placed as human shields next to ammunition dumps or rocket launchers. Efforts to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza were infinitely more wide ranging than those applied by American and European forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When one compares Israeli behavior to that of countries like Russia in Chechnya, the barbaric mass murders in Darfur (recently “justified” by the Islamic Conference), the genocide in the Congo and the brutal killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka, the concerted hatred directed against Israel by Western countries becomes mind boggling. It is as though we had reverted to the Dark Ages, when Jews were blamed for all the woes of mankind, from blood libels to poisoning the wells and spreading plague. This is borne out by the bizarre findings of European opinion polls which view Israel more negatively than such rogue states as North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Iran.
What makes this situation even more surrealistic is the behavior of a small but highly-vocal group of Israelis who endorse the despicable libels orchestrated by those seeking to defame their country’s acts of self-defense. The occasionally abused expression “self-hating Jews” best describes those academics, journalists and NGOs who collaborate with fanatic anti-Israel groups abroad. They have now stooped to even more unconscionable depths by trying to defame the noble youths who are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend their people and homeland.
They replicate the same disgusting behavior displayed a few months ago when Haaretz highlighted allegations accusing the IDF of Cossack-like killing sprees – allegations subsequently proven to have been based entirely on gossip and utterly without foundation. But by the time the fraud was exposed the damage was done, and Israel had been besmirched in papers throughout the world.
WITH MONEY from European governments and other foreign donors, the defamers have formed a new group called Breaking the Silence and once again quote unnamed soldiers who babble on anonymously about “war crimes.” They justify the anonymity by making the outrageous claim that whistle-blowers risk being punished, despite common knowledge that if the IDF ever behaved in such a manner the independent Israeli media would have a field day lambasting it. They have the gall to demand an independent investigation of the IDF – something that no country in the world has ever undertaken.
Needless to say, in any war, even with the greatest efforts to maintain moral standards, occasional individual breaches and malpractices are inevitable. The litmus test of a democracy is whether such cases are covered up or prosecuted. IDF Judge Advocate-General Brig-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit has systematically investigated every accusation, and if misconduct was discovered, the offender was punished. To date there has not been a single case of behavior that could be defined as a deliberate intention to kill civilians.
Stealing a credit card or looting an Arab home is despicable and must be severely punished, but neither compares to wanton killing or qualifies as a crime against humanity. Should further examples of individual malpractice be exposed, the parties involved will undoubtedly also be prosecuted.
War involves life-and-death situations; mistakes are made and innocents inevitably die. But in maintaining our moral standards, we are also obliged to ensure that we do not go to the other extreme and endanger the lives of our soldiers by preventing them from defending themselves.
NOT SO long ago, it would have been inconceivable for any sane Israeli to accuse our sons of war crimes. The public outcry would have been deafening and those defaming our soldiers would have been pariahs. There are laws in a democracy which protect an individual from defamation and punish those who besmirch the innocent. Israel is at war and the battle for minds is a key component. To besmirch a nation by falsely portraying its soldiers as wanton murderers is an act of infamy that would be treasonable in most countries. Allowing degenerate nihilists the right to promote outright lies not only undermines national morale, it also compromises our security.
Legislation should be introduced enabling the prosecution of those knowingly disseminating slanders and defaming the nation whilst endeavoring not to curtail freedom of expression and also to oblige groups obtaining funds from foreign governments to register as foreign agents.
The struggle to retain our reputation as a decent and moral people is a major component in our battle for peace. If we fail to clean up our domestic cesspool, we open the door for our enemies and the anti-Semites who seek to destroy us.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post