Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, leaving behind no forces or blockade. But when Hamas came to power in 2006, rather than invest in infrastructure, they used their money for weapons to launch a war against Israeli civilians, firing thousands of rockets aimed at schools, hospitals and homes for the elderly. Contrary to the falsehoods contained in the Gaza 54 letter, Israel responded with a sea blockade only, designed to stop bombs and bullets from reaching Hamas terrorists. The land routes have always remained open and, as stated above, food and medicine and other essential humanitarian aid has never been prevented from entering.
Those who, like Bill Pascrell, accuse Israel of collective punishment by imposing the sea blockade run contrary to the ruling of the United Nations itself – not known for being favorably disposed to Israel – which declared in a July 2011 report that Israel’s naval blockade was legal.
The effect of Pascrell’s signature on the letter was to weaken Israel’s ability to defend itself against Hamas, which rules Gaza with an iron fist and is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and to attacking Jews wherever they may be found. Its covenant is deeply racist and filled with genocidal aspirations: “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts… until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realized.”
Hamas is also an inhuman regime that brutalizes its Palestinian citizens and is regularly censured by human rights groups worldwide. Human Rights Watch has condemned Hamas for “serious violations of international law.” I need not add how gays and women fare under Hamas rule, whose barbarity includes widespread honor killings of young women and whose usual excuse for persecuting gays is to label them “collaborators with Israel.”
It is not Israel that is responsible for the suffering of Palestinians, but Hamas, which continues its murderous, terrorist war against innocent Israeli, as this recent report by Moran Stein in the Atlantic makes clear: “Late last month, Hamas fired 20 rockets into Israel, part of a 150-rocket volley launched by it and other Gaza-based groups.”
Pascrell blaming Israel for the collective suffering of Palestinians is akin to blaming the United States for the deprivation of German and Japanese citizens during the Second World War.
The comparison, unfortunately, is not exaggerated. The Hamas Charter reads like a modern-day Mein Kampf: “The Day of Judgment will not come,” it says, “until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, O Muslims… there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
Ben Chouake, the head of NORPAC, one of America’s foremost pro-Israel organizations, published the following regarding Pascrell’s signature on Gaza 54: “There never was a blockade of food or medicine by Israel to Gaza, and Pascrell knows this. His explanation for his support of the letter, which could only damage Israel’s reputation, is unfortunate. It is common knowledge this letter is a clear mark against the pro-Israel record of every signatory.” But given this is so, what is more mystifying? That a Congressman who falsely attacked Israel refuses to repudiate his actions even while he seeks significant Jewish support, or that a famous Pro-Israel groups like NORPAC have declared themselves neutral on the race?
Palestinians are my brothers and it pains me deeply that there continues to be war between Arab and Jew. While visiting Arab inhabitants of Paterson recently, I heard the grievances of many who have family in Gaza and who feel Israel is indifferent to their plight. Every Palestinian life is of infinite and inestimable values and it is terrible that Palestinians continue to suffer in Gaza. But the solution is for Palestinians who currently live under the tyranny of Hamas to enjoy a benevolent, democratic government like the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel, who practice a glorious Islamic faith without encumbrance, publish newspapers without interference, and frolic in summer camps without fear. None of this will happen so long as Hamas continues its reign of terror in Gaza.
For over a decade – and well before the advent of the Arab spring – I have been one of the most consistent voices calling for international opposition to the dictators that suppress Arab rights and brutalize Arab citizens throughout the Middle East. Indeed, the Arab residents of the ninth district would be far better served to have Congressman Pascrell join me in calling for international action against President Bashar Assad of Syria – the world’s foremost murderer of Arab life – than to perpetuate the canard that Israel is responsible for Palestinian suffering. Scapegoating Israel for the plight of innocent Arabs is one of the tools that these monsterous dictators have used to keep their people down.
About the Author: Shmuley Boteach, whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of The World Values Network and the international bestselling author of 30 books, including “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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