Dissent Of The Day

A reader writes:

I'm sorry but that Yglesias "Quote For The Day" was utter bullshit. You are comparing a death cult who fires a missile and hopes it lands in a school yard to a country that makes mistakes, but venerates and celebrates life. What is it about Jews that drives people like you batshit? To object to the Gaza operation is to object to Israel's existence. They were defending themselves.  From Goldblog to Peres at Davos, every Jew knows that. For a people that can't agree on anything, Jews can agree for the most part on what Israel did during the Gaza operation was out of necessity, not out of malevolence.  

The question is not, it seems to me, a binary choice between necessity and malevolence. I don't think, strictly speaking, the Gaza assault was either. I think it was a legitimate response to terrorist rocket attacks that nonetheless went too far in targeting civilian populations and infrastructure and included several deeply troubling incidents and reports of war crimes. To deploy a double standard and excuse Hamas' war crimes would be grossly unfair. And it remains palpably true that Israel is on a plane by itself in grappling with these issues at all in the Middle East. But look: disprove the serious reports of war crimes. Then go off on critics. And there were and are, of course, many Israelis and many Jews who were appalled by the Gaza assault and its human and civil toll. The Israeli press was full of remorse only recently. There is no unanimity of Jewish opinion on this (or anything).

Yglesias is not exactly goyim. Neither is Goldstone. And the notion that objecting to the pulverization of Gaza's already beleaguered population and infrastructure is some kind of anti-Zionist eliminationism is absurd. It is perfectly possible to believe in good faith that Israel's actions in Gaza will hurt Israel in the long run, rather than help it, that war crimes are war crimes, whoever commits them, and that the interests of the United States and the world are not always congruent with one particular Israeli government or another.

But you will note from this email how any criticism of Israel is automatically regarded as anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism. The emailer is an intelligent, educated person. But on this subject unhinged by passion and paranoia. Yes, some of that paranoia - with respect, for example, to the UN's grandstanding - is justified. But the defensiveness here helps no one, least of all the Israelis. You don't have to be an anti-Semite to have been disturbed and shocked by the images and stories that came out of Gaza. You just have to be a human being.