Editorial: The Gaza ‘Protests’

On Monday President Donald Trump fulfilled his campaign promise to move the United States embassy in Israel to the country’s capital, Jerusalem. As usual, the American and European media’s coverage interpreted the event in the worst possible light for the nation of Israel. One learns very little from our mainstream news sources about what the move may mean for the nations primarily concerned—Israel and the United States—but a great deal about the Palestinian “protests” happening along Israel’s southern border with Gaza: Headlines in the New York Times and Washington Post proclaimed (misleadingly) “Israel Kills Dozens and Wounds 1700 at Gaza Border” and “Over 50 Killed in Gaza Protests as U.S. Opens Embassy in Jerusalem.”

We put the word “protests” in quotation marks advisedly. In ordinary English usage, a protest is a collective action or gesture meant to bring pressure on a government or corporate entity. The Gaza “protests” are meant to bring pressure on Israel, but they’re intended mainly to kill and maim both Israelis and the Palestinian “protesters” themselves.

These demonstrations would be better described as suicide-riots. For nearly two months, Hamas and other militant factions have been encouraging young Palestinian men to storm the fence separating Gaza from Israel. The rioters cut holes in the fence, charge Israeli guards with crude weapons like axes, and lob fire bombs over the wall in attempts to set Israeli fields on fire. Hamas has pledged to massacre those on the other side of the fence, and these riots are expressions of that intention. Israeli defense forces are obliged to respond with force. An axe-clutching Palestinian insanely charging into Israeli territory isn’t a “protester” but a combatant and a terrorist. The fact that he doesn’t expect to prevail against the might of the Israel Defense Forces—he is in essence on a suicide mission—doesn’t somehow oblige Israeli soldiers not to use force to stop him. The Israelis have no choice but to fire back, and they do, often with deadly results.

This is Hamas’s longstanding strategy: The more Palestinian young men die, the more hellish the conditions of Palestinian neighborhoods, the more sympathy aroused in Western media. Hence Palestinian rioters’ destruction of the only cargo passage through which cooking fuel can get to Gaza’s 2 million residents. The act of vandalism appears senseless unless you understand Hamas’s aim is to make Palestinians destitute for the benefit of Western media.

And the Western media generally fill their expected role by placing at least an equal share of the blame on Israel and its American backers. So, for instance, American and European media readily accept casualty statistics from the Gaza Health Ministry, a Hamas outfit deliberately aiming to exaggerate Palestinian deaths. These same media, similarly, nearly always accept as genuine the reasons for the riots expressed by Palestinian organizations. Eighteen years ago, it was Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple mount that supposedly sparked the second intifada and the attendant bloodshed. This time, we’re told, it’s Trump’s embassy move that gives Palestinians license to plunder their own resources in acts of irrational rage.

Most ordinary Palestinians, however, appear to be smarter than the smart people whose job it is to give us news about Israel and the Palestinian territories. Despite all the violence in Gaza, the place where most Palestinians live—the West Bank—has remained largely quiet. The Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, too, have been devoid of riots. All contrary to the dire predictions of Western experts who foresaw destruction and bloodshed across the Arab world in response to the U.S. decision to move its embassy.

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