I’m starting to understand the attitude of the wildly misinformed anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. I’d be anti-Israel too if I believed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ slanderous statements about the Jewish state, especially regarding the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
If I heard, for example, that Israel bombed “hospitals” during the 2014 Israel-Gaza War, as Sanders claimed during a recent interview, then I might believe the IDF is a morally depraved military that murdered innocent patients in cold blood.
Never mind that the only strike on a hospital during the war was when the IDF surgically bombed a wing of Gaza’s empty Al-Wafa Hospital, with the Israeli army saying the building was being used as a Hamas terrorist command center and a launching site for rockets. No casualties were reported in the bombing, and Israel first fired numerous warning shots and spent days ensuring that the building was entirely evacuated. Sanders has not said a word about Hamas’ criminal use of hospital patients as human shields.
Still, if I believed Sanders’ rhetoric that Israel indiscriminately leveled whole Palestinian apartment buildings, I too would likely view the IDF as a human rights violator. “My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled,” Sanders claimed to the New York Daily News two weeks ago.
This was the same interview in which the socialist presidential candidate trumped Hamas’ own anti-Israel propaganda by falsely claiming that the IDF killed “over 10,000 innocent people” during the 2014 Gaza War.
Who would not be outraged by a country that allegedly killed over 10,000 innocent people?
Let’s put aside that both Israel and Hamas placed the number of dead well below 2,500 and that Israel says 1,408 of 2,203 Palestinians killed in the war were militants. Let’s ignore for the moment that the Palestinians – who use civilians as human shields – have a long and sordid history of wrongly claiming that innocents were massacred only to later have their lies publicly exposed.
(Does anyone remember the Jenin “massacre” of April, 2002? Palestinian officials at first claimed 500 civilians were butchered by Israeli forces and thousands were wounded. They immediately upped the number to thousands of civilians killed, saying scores were buried in mass graves. But it was later independently determined that 56 Palestinians, mostly gunmen, were killed, and 23 Israeli soldiers died in the battle to ferret out terrorists in Jenin, with IDF troops putting their lives at risk by going house-to-house in many cases so as to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties.)
What Sanders is clearly implying with his ignorant rhetoric is that the IDF does not value Palestinian lives and bombs civilian neighborhoods with impunity.
This is the exact opposite of reality. Israel goes beyond what many other countries do to protect civilians. The IDF regularly warns civilians of incoming attacks with phone calls and text messages. It further employs “roof knocking” – or firing warning shots – before any aerial bombing. If civilians still don’t evacuate, the Israeli army often makes announcements on loudspeakers. The IDF has called off scores of military raids because civilians were in the way.
Meanwhile, I’d be a vocal critic of the IDF too if I believed that Israel should respond proportionately to incessant Palestinian rocket fire targeting Israeli cities.
One of Sanders’ central anti-Israel arguments is that Israel’s response during the Gaza war was “disproportionate.”
My initial response to this repeated claim by Sanders says it all:
First, let’s not forget why the Gaza War was launched in the first place. Hamas repeatedly violated a truce by firing scores of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian population zones. In one day alone, July 8, Hamas launched 40 rockets into Israel, prompting Israeli retaliation and the start of the conflict.
What nation on earth would allow a terrorist army to amass a rocket infrastructure in a neighboring territory and use that land – which Israel evacuated in hope of peace – as a staging ground for constant terrorist rocket attacks?
And by calling Israel’s self-defense “disproportionate,” what exactly is Sanders advocating? That instead of acting to minimize the terrorist threat against its civilians, Israel should respond to every act of Palestinian terrorism with an equivalent act? So if Hamas fires a rocket into a Jewish city, Israel should therefore respond by indiscriminately launching a terror rocket into a Palestinian city with the intent of killing civilians? That the next time a Palestinian stabs an Israeli, the Jewish state should send one of its own into Ramallah to stab a Palestinian civilian?
Sanders’s statement is preposterous, nonsensical, and negates Israel’s ability to defend itself and degrade Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.