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The Civic Sentinel Israel, Gaza, And The Media
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If you've read any articles concerning the current Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, you've probably noticed that they all offer similar types of information: a running total of Palestinian casualties, a list of non-military targets damaged or destroyed by the Israeli military, and a roster of the humanitarian organizations supplying medicine to the besieged population of the Gaza Strip. You may have even seen heartfelt quotes from political leaders and Hollywood darlings around the world expressing their hope that Israel will put an end to the fighting.

What you have probably not seen is any reference to the 4,000 rockets launched into southern Israel from Gaza over the last three years. Nor is it likely that you have been presented with any policy statements from the Hamas party in Gaza. Let me share a few of them with you, maybe they will grant some perspective. These come from Dr. Mahmud Al-Zahar, presently the Foreign Minister for Hamas:

"Israel is not a legitimate entity, and no amount of pressure can force us to recognize its right to exist." (Washington Times, February 4, 2006)

"Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded." (Washington Times, February 4, 2006)

"The march of resistance will continue until the Islamic flag is raised, not only over the minarets of Jerusalem, but over the whole universe." (Associated Press, January 15, 2004)

Hamas was elected to power by the primarily Palestinian population of Gaza after Israel vacated in 2006. It is now and was then recognized as a terrorist organization. Hamas intentionally uses the civilian population of Gaza as armor against Israeli reprisal, and blatantly fires its rockets from the windows of Mosques, hospitals, and schools. If and when a military response results in the deaths of innocent civilians, Hamas accuses Israel of callous indifference to human life, and vows revenge. And the cycle continues.

The accusation is pure nonsense, of course. Hamas, not Israel, has chosen to place the civilian population of Gaza between the bullet and the target. Even so, Israel will not and should not tolerate the rain of fire pouring out of Gaza. Just as a kidnapper holds a hostage between himself and the police - with a pistol to the temple and an arm around the neck - so the civilians in Gaza are now held by Hamas. Israel is hesitant to pull the trigger for fear of harming the hostage, but is also unwilling to lower their weapon and retreat; if they do, they place both themselves and the hostage at the mercy of a murderous villain.

But if Israel holds the moral high ground, and Hamas is a pack of hoodlums, why is Israel forced to suffer so many slings and arrows from the media? Perhaps this is not a bad thing. Perhaps it is a compliment that Israel is held to a higher standard than Hamas. Perhaps the media sees Israel as more level-headed and dispassionate, and thereby more likely to barter a lasting peace.

After all, each of us intuitively understands the difference between launching a deadly terrorist attack, and responding to said terrorist attack with deadly force. The former is intended to kill civilians, and the latter is meant to protect them. While we should hope and pray for a swift and bloodless end to the fighting in Gaza, the right of a nation to protect its citizens against ceaseless bombardment is not up for debate. If we are honest in assigning accountability for this conflict, we must condemn the side that deliberately aims for and benefits from the slaughter of innocent people.

But why should we care? The battle is half a world away, between two nations and ideologies that most of us will never see or experience in our lifetimes.

We should care because Israel is a capitalistic democracy, just as we are. And they are embattled by the forces of radical Islam, just as we are. But they are much worse off. While we are separated from the fight by two oceans, Israel is bordered on all sides by decidedly hostile nations. If we do not show solidarity with Israel, they will not last long. And if they don't last, who do you think is Public Enemy #2 on the Islamofascist Most-Wanted list?

Jubal McMillan is an Escalon businessman, Video Xtreme, and contributes a monthly column for The Times. He can be reached via email at