Time for all Americans to rally behind Israel

A mourner holds a sign during the funeral of Israeli soldier Guy Algranati in Tel Aviv July 31, 2014. The sign reads "Huge Thanks, Hero." Reuters photo by Nir Elias.

A mourner holds a sign during the funeral of Israeli soldier Guy Algranati in Tel Aviv July 31, 2014. The sign reads “Huge Thanks, Hero.” Reuters photo by Nir Elias.

This summer, as Americans obsessed over triviality such as the retirement of Derek Jeter, the free agency of LeBron James, and the next new exciting Apple product, Israel — one of our closest allies in the world — has been fighting for its very survival.

Israelis have been fighting an enemy that hides itself among a civilian population, kidnaps Israeli citizens, and uses its own people as human shields. They’ve been fighting an enemy that celebrated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by dancing in the streets. They’re fighting a corrupt organization that cares more about killing their enemies than the needs of their own citizens.

Though it’s become fashionable among many on both the left and the right to denounce Israel, all Americans should be rallying behind Israelis as they confront the terrorist threat that seeks to destroy them. If Hamas were successful in its goal — which, to be clear, is the elimination of Israel, not just the establishment of a Palestinian state — they would not suddenly become peace-loving allies. They would expand their fight beyond their borders, attacking other nations they see as enemies. They’d join with other Jihadists in a broader global conflict. They’d become a terrorist state, not a stable democracy.

Israel is not only fighting to defend itself, they are fighting on our behalf as well. As it does so, it is not — as some have suggested — making an organized attempt to wipe out an entire race, or purposefully targeting civilians. Those are tactics and goals of Hamas, not of Israel. Israel is fighting this conflict in line with Western values, doing its very best to minimize civilian casualties while Hamas does the exact opposite.

Of course, in any conflict it’s impossible to avoid civilian casualties. No matter how advanced your technology or professional your soldiers, mistakes will be made. This is especially true when you’re fighting an enemy in an urban environment that regularly uses human shields. This is a fact of war, and it is the reason we always seek to avoid conflict whenever possible.

However, that does not extend to complete and total capitulation. This is exactly why the United Nations charter recognizes the right of every nation to defend itself, as the U.S. did in Afghanistan after 9/11 and Israel is doing today. In both cases, the victim gave the attackers every opportunity to avoid conflict, waiting patiently until diplomatic options had run out before resorting to the use of force. In both cases, they tried to minimize civilian casualties as much as they could, and they were accused unjustly of doing the opposite.

Israel has offered various deals over the years that would have allowed for the establishment of a Palestinian state. They’ve been rejected each time by leaders unwilling to compromise and live with their neighbors in peace, even as their people desperately yearn for it. The Palestinian people are victims of Hamas as well, just as Afghanistan was victimized by the Taliban.

Israel is not perfect; no nation created by man is, or ever will be. They have made mistakes in their history, just as the United States has, and will undoubtedly make more in the future. However, that history does not abrogate their right to self-defense. It also does not excuse the war crimes and human rights abuses being committed by their enemies.

We should not ignore mistakes made by Israel or any ally; they deserve scrutiny. However, neither should we misrepresent them into some kind of false equivalence. When a country is fighting terrorism — a threat to global peace and security — it deserves the support of the United States and its citizens. We need to stand together with Israel and other nations fighting terrorism, not give moral cover to a common enemy for the sake of intellectual expediency.

Jim Fossel

About Jim Fossel

Originally from Alna, Jim Fossel has volunteered with a number of campaigns over the years, including for Peter Mills for Governor in 2006. He previously worked for U.S. Senator Susan Collins and House Republican Leader Josh Tardy.