Robbins

Robbins

Last week's formation of a new Israeli government, comprised of Parliament members from across the country's wide political spectrum, was good news for Israel, which needs to move on from long-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Reinforcing that good news was the election of Isaac Herzog, the widely respected former Labor Party leader, as Israel's new president.

Israeli leaders preside over a nation both hugely successful and hugely challenged. Among their challenges is an American left that increasingly embraces the narrative that the massive rocketing of Israeli civilians by Hamas is more or less fine and that Israeli attempts to stop it constitute war crimes. This inanity captivates American progressives, who have swallowed it whole.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof illustrates the point. Each time Hamas has used Gazans as human shields to fire thousands of rockets at Israeli communities – in 2009, 2012, 2014 and just recently – Kristof's chose to bitterly criticize Israel because – shocker! – when Israel tried to stop the rocketing and reduced Hamas' ability to conduct it, Gazans, whom Hamas was happy to sacrifice for public relations gains, were killed. It requires no genius to grasp that Hamas wants to terrorize and kill Israelis and wants Gazans to die to dupe the left into blaming Israel. But Kristof and others, including some really smart people, seem not to get it.

Appearing on "Real Time with Bill Maher" last month, Kristof was left stammering when Maher asked him what he, Kristof, suggested Israel should do to defend itself from Hamas rockets. Seeking to self-resuscitate a few days later, Kristof wrote a column offering up the meaningless pablum that Israel should act "with more restraint and wisdom," a banality at once precious and witless. Would it constitute "wisdom" for Israel to simply permit Hamas to carpet Israeli civilians with thousands of rockets every time it saw fit, without trying to protect its civilians? As for "restraint," Kristof has not the foggiest idea of the extent to which Israel goes to avoid hurting civilians. Any serious person who gives it a minute's thought realizes that there is no way for Israel to stop Hamas from waging war against it without Gazans being hurt, particularly since Hamas intends for Gazans to be hurt.

Those who have somewhat more knowledge of what is entailed in trying to stop thousands of rockets than columnists and editorial writers praise Israel as the gold standard of military morality. General Martin Dempsey, President Obama's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was among those with actual expertise who have hailed the "extraordinary lengths" to which the Israel Defense Forces go to minimize the harm to Gazans while trying to protect Israelis. "They did some extraordinary things to try to limit civilian casualties," said Dempsey in 2014, the last time Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israelis only to have the left attack Israel. "The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties. They're interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel."

So true, so obvious, and just as true and obvious this last time as before. And still irrelevant as far as the left is concerned. Thankfully, not everyone on the Democratic left has lost their minds – or their spines. United States Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Black, openly gay congressman representing the South Bronx, is not buying the hogwash being peddled by congressional colleagues like Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, who hold themselves out as progressives while apologizing for Hamas' crimes against both Gazans and Israelis. "The hysterical demonization of Israel has set off a global wave of anti-Semitic violence and vitriol," said Torres days ago.

He is right. And a troubling number of Democrats share in the responsibility for it.

•••

Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.

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