In the Arena

…Or Maybe It’s Just to Save Lives

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The folks over at Commentary have become so twisted in their hatred for the Obama Administration–and in their perverse sense of what helps or hurts Israel–that their only possible reaction to the Administration’s announcement that it would help fund an anti-missile system to protect Israeli towns from attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah is to argue that it is a sneaky attempt to hurt Israel:

The timing of the decision may have been dictated by the administration’s desire to walk back from the hostility its stands on Jerusalem and insults to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provoked from friends of Israel. The charm offensive belies the left’s claims that most American Jews back Obama’s Israel-bashing. The White House’s clear desire to undo the impression it had previously sought to foster of America distancing itself from the Jewish state is an indication that it doesn’t believe most American Jews support a policy of further pressure on Israel.

However, backing for the Iron Dome project may have another context. Even if the system isn’t foolproof, should a new terrorist offensive against Israel be launched either in the south by Hamas or, as widely anticipated, in the north by an even more heavily armed Hezbollah, a defensive shield against rocket attacks could give the administration the leverage it needs to prevent substantial Israeli counterattacks against either threat.

First of all, there’s the loathsome assumption that those who oppose more Israeli settlement-building, especially in Jerusalem, are anti-Israel. Actually, no: there are those of us–strongly pro-Israel–who believe that these illegal housing blocks are an incitement that makes a peace settlement less likely…and that the absence of a peace settlement means long-term disaster for Israel. I’ve rehearsed that argument more than once in this space, but it’s still nauseating in the extreme to be casually accused of being anti-Israel (or anti-semitic, or self-hating) by extremists whose views, and tendency to place more faith in the right-wing Likud coalition than in the United States government, are at a variance with those of the majority of American Jews.

And then, there’s the toxic silliness of arguing that the missile defense system is actually a ploy to prevent Israel from taking action against Arab groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. No, the Occam’s Razor answer is: it’s an effort to protect civilians from terrorist attacks. But if it has the additional effect of moderating Israel’s justifiable retaliation against these jihadi groups, what’s wrong with that?

I favored the two most recent Israeli retaliations–in Gaza and Lebanon–in principle and in moderation. But both reactions were disproportionate (especially the Israeli aerial attacks on Beirut in August, 2006…and the extended Gaza campaign, which achieved most of its purpose after the first few days). I favor anything that makes violence against civilians less likely on both sides; the anti-missile system will do that. I’m glad the Administration is funding it.