On May 2, an American citizen of Palestinian origin drove by the Tapuach Junction in Israel, spraying it with gunfire. A 19-year-old Yeshiva Student, Yehuda Guetta, was murdered and two of his classmates were wounded. Following the murder, the Biden administration issued a strongly worded condemnation. Incredibly the target of the State Department’s ire was not the murderer, but Israel, for blowing up the convicted terrorist’s house. The Biden Administration did not issue condolences to the families of the victims, or even condemn the terrorist’s actions.
Silence over Palestinian outrages and condemnation of Israel’s response is sadly routine, and not limited to the United States. But the hypocrisy of the Biden Administration on this issue is particularly absurd, because the United States has long engaged not only in destroying the homes of enemy civilians but of killing them en masse.
During WWII, one of the primary goals of the Allied strategic bombing campaign was to disrupt Germany’s industry and war effort by “de-housing” German civilians through area bombing of German cities. Tens of millions of German homes were targeted and destroyed. Millions of civilians were killed and burned in the process, with 35,000 incinerated in one night in Dresden alone. The United States was not wrong in doing this; Nazi Germany initiated what Goebbels called “total war,” and Germany reaped the whirlwind. The absurdity is in the Biden administration’s condemning Israel’s far more measured policy of destroying the individual homes of convicted terrorists, after having vacated all the inhabitants, while leaving neighboring homes untouched.
Although Japan never attacked U.S. civilians she too, felt the full might of America’s strategic bombing. By 1945, the U.S. had accumulated the air power, technology and experience to make the strategic bombing campaign against Japan even more lethal than that unleashed on Germany. Because most Japanese homes were constructed of wood, this resulted in the incineration of whole cites and populations. The firebombing of Tokyo on the night of March 9–10 destroyed 16 square miles in the center of the city and killed 100,000 civilians in one night. Yet Secretary Blinken has the chutzpah to accuse Israel of immorality for the controlled demolition of a convicted terrorist’s property. This from the country that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki!
Further, U.S. bombing of civilians did not end with World War II. During the Vietnam War, the United States killed an estimated 182,000 North Vietnamese civilians, with another 30,000–150,000 killed in Cambodia. In 1999, another 500 civilians were killed in the U.S. led NATO bombing in Serbia.
Least anyone imagine that such policies are a thing of the past, the Obama-Biden administration initiated a campaign of drone strikes against terrorist targets, which the office of the Director of National Intelligence admits killed dozens of civilians. According to the Bureau of Independent Journalists, hundreds were killed. More recently, large numbers of civilians have been killed during U.S. bombing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Amnesty International, from June through October 2017, U.S. led forces destroyed 11,000 buildings and killed 1,600 civilians in the city of Raqqa, Syria alone.
This brings us to the often-heard accusation that Israel uses “disproportionate force” against her enemies. Did the United States refrain from strategic bombing because the Luftwaffe was in shambles by 1945, or refrain from using nuclear weapons against Japan because the Japanese had none? Did the U.S. refrain from using Napalm or bombing Hanoi because the North Vietnamese could not respond in kind? Since when do nations fight wars proportionally? What other nation aside from Israel is asked to defend herself with one hand tied behind her back in order to avoid “disproportionate force”? In war every nation uses all the means at her disposal, even absent the existential threat that Israel has faced since her creation.
Israel’s new Prime Minister, Naphtali Bennett, rejected Blinken’s criticism and did not prevent the court-ordered destruction of the terrorist’s home. A minister in Bennett’s government also made it clear that Israel’s policy of destroying the homes of convicted terrorists will continue.
Next month, Bennett will meet with President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken in Washington. The Americans have stated that they intend to bring up the issue with the State Department, announcing that “we attach a good deal of priority to this.” It is to be hoped that Prime Minister Bennett will point out the hypocrisy of this criticism. One might also expect he will not be swayed by such hypocritical, specious arguments about the disproportionate use of force. I hope that Prime Minister Bennett will make clear that Israel will not accept a double standard but will , like the United States and every other country, defend herself “by any means necessary.”
Image via Haaretz