Getting the Story Wrong on the Plight of Palestinians

SOMEONE should tell Julie Hurley that kids are not a political katyusha to be fired against Israel in the ongoing effort to delegitimize the Jewish state.

In her Op-Ed article in New Jersey's 'The Record' (“The subtle costs of constant Mideast war,” June 30), Hurley makes the following points:

  1. Gaza’s inhabitants are subject to a cruel “siege” imposed arbitrarily by Israel.
  2. It is not Hamas but “small militant groups” who are firing deadly rockets against Israeli civilians.
  3. Israel’s blockade is responsible for the poverty in Gaza and the cancellation of summer camps.
  4. The Israeli “siege” is illegal under international law.
None of the above is correct.

I personally visited Gaza City on a solidarity trip to Israel right after 9/11 and witnessed the unspeakable poverty that prevailed under Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, even though, as The New York Times reported, by 2004 the Palestinians had become “the world’s largest per capita recipients of international aid.”

The Congressional Research Service stated, “the United States alone has committed over $4 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians.”

Sadly, very little of that money trickled down to Palestinian children due to widespread corruption and theft on the part of the Palestinian leadership.

In 2003, a team of American accountants – hired by Arafat’s own finance ministry – claimed that Arafat had wealth in a secret portfolio worth close to $1 billion.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, leaving behind no forces or blockade. But when Hamas came to power in 2006, rather than investing 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.

Stopping bombs

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, contrary to the infamous “Gaza 54” letter signed by a small group from Congress in 2010, food and medicine and other essential humanitarian aid has never been prevented from entering.

Hurley’s claim that the sea blockade is illegal under international law directly contradicts a United Nations report of July 2011 that states: “Israel’s naval blockade was legal.”

Hamas, which rules Gaza with an iron fist, is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and to attacking Jews wherever they may be found. Its covenant is deeply racist, 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.

It is not Israel that is responsible for the suffering of Palestinian children but Hamas. Hurley’s claim that the rockets are not being fired by Hamas are belied by every credible international media agency, such as this recent report by Moran Stein in the Atlantic: “Late last month, Hamas fired 20 rockets into Israel, part of a 150-rocket volley launched by it and other Gaza-based groups.”

Wrong to blame Israel

Blaming Israel for the cancellation of summer camps for the children of Gaza is akin to blaming the United States for the deprivation of German and Japanese children in the summer of 1945.

The comparison 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.”

Hurley ignores the violence that has attended the Gaza summer games, including a June 2010 report in Al-Jazeera that said, “A group of armed men has vandalized a U.N. summer camp in the Gaza Strip, the second such attack in just over one month.”

Palestinians are my brothers

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 last week, I heard the grievances of many who have family in Gaza and who feel Israel is indifferent to their plight. 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.

Shmuley Boteach, a rabbi, is the Republican candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District.


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