Friday, September 12, 2014

Dan Margalit: You can't win with B'Tselem

by Dan Margalit

Chief Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni said the Israel Defense Forces would investigate the alleged crimes that Israeli troops committed during Operation Protective Edge. Who was the first to dismiss this move and ignore the fact that the Military Police was already investigating two criminal cases? Human rights group B'Tselem. How surprising. This organization, whose director, Hagai El-Ad, has essentially become a Hamas apologist by refusing to call it a terrorist group, is convinced the IDF is at fault. He called the new probe a cover-up. 

By assuming this posture, B'Tselem says that the U.N. panel that was appointed to investigate the operation is more credible than the IDF investigators. This, despite its anti-Israeli chairman, William Schabas. In fact, B'Tselem has not come out against Schabas in any discernible way. 

B'Tselem is one of the senior members of an anti-IDF coalition. Its members include Haaretz contributors. When Gideon Levy, a columnist at the paper, penned a piece that criticized Israeli Air Force pilots ("Lowest Deeds from Loftiest Heights"), many readers said they would end their subscription. Another Haaretz reporter, Amira Hass, recently wrote that Hamas would be wise to reject Israel's demands during the Cairo cease-fire talks. 

Another member of the coalition is J Street. Although it calls itself a pro-Israel lobby, it said the U.S. should punish Israel for appropriating 4,000 dunams (1.5 square miles) in Gush Etzion. Yes, this move was ill-conceived and wrong, but I am still baffled by J Street's reaction. How can a pro-Israel lobby seek punitive steps against the very state it is lobbying for? Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must be telling himself, "My work here is done." 

On one end of the spectrum, you have Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder and President of J Street, advocating punitive action toward Israel. On the other end, there is the EU, which said that despite its disapproval of the Gush Etzion decision, an economic boycott was off the table. What a fascinating dissonance. As usual, "Your destroyers and they that made you waste shall go forth from you" (Isaiah 49:17).

El-Ad and Co. have every right to make their views heard. To quote Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." But they are guided by a flawed logic. El-Ad, Levy, Hass and Ben-Ami all want Israel to shirk its duties when it comes to investigating Operation Protective Edge. They would rather Israel wait for a hostile verdict by those who could not care less about the plight of displaced Gazans and who want to inflict harm on Israel. El-Ad and Co. have hurt those good people here in Israel who would like to see the IDF uphold moral standards during wartime. 

We can at least take comfort in the fact that we do not rely on El-Ad and Co. Neither are we dependent on the right-wing extremists who say that upholding the rule of law and exercising self restraint is debilitating left-wing ideology. They too have been critical of Efroni. 

Back in the day, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion recited a Nathan Alterman poem about an immoral IDF soldier who killed an innocent Arab woman during the War of Independence. The poem lambasts the Israeli fighter for shooting the woman in the heat of the battle. Those words, delivered from the Knesset podium, set a moral code for Israel to follow. Israelis have to uphold ethical standards so that their conscience is free, not because they would like to counter a malicious U.N. secretary-general who is bent on embarrassing them. 

We need to investigate Operation Protective Edge for two reasons. The first, to make sure we shed our immorality. The second -- to determine the exact number of fake U.N. buildings that served terrorists. These supposed "health facilities," which housed the entrances to the tunnels that were used to kill our beloved soldiers, were made to look as if they were run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

Dan Margalit


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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