Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fence Sitting

It may surprise Steven Robins to know that I am as familiar with Israeli imperfections as he is (Cape Times 18 March). It may surprise him even more to learn that on two occasions I have written to the Israeli Embassy bringing my concerns forcefully to their attention.

But I do differ from Prof Robins in two essential respects. I am indeed committed to the right of Israel to exist as a normal country in peace and security (and, as a corollary of that, am immensely proud of her heroic achievements in every sphere).

And, secondly, I understand as Robins apparently does (or will) not, that Israel faces an existential threat essentially similar to that faced by European Jewry in the pre-Nazi era and that her “crimes” in context are minor indeed.

Possibly Robins has kept himself unaware of the multi-pronged strategy being pursued to undermine Israel and to offset her advantage in military hardware and general expertise. The Palestinians are a key element in this strategy and constitute a dagger directed at Israel’s heart.

By simultaneously serving as hotbed of violent aggression and as victims, the Gazans under Hamas (though Fatah is hardly better) intends to keep Israel permanently destabilized while simultaneously provoking civilian casualties to gain the sympathy of Western progressives.

The extraordinarily low number of civilian casualties amongst the Gazans, after years of unprovoked rocket and mortar fire and despite every effort on the part of Hamas to maximise collateral damage, is an amazing testament to Israeli restraint and skill.

As any sane person realises, Israel would like nothing more than to see normality return to her borders. This will never be allowed to happen; under one pretext or another, the border will be maintained in a state of constant threat for reasons already explained above.

Needless, to say this is perfectly well understood by Israel, and indeed by anyone seriously engaged with international politics. It is only a band of Western progressives, “culpable innocents” is the kindest term I can think of, who think they are engaged in ivory tower debate and use Israel’s existential struggle to polish their credentials.

For, like it or not, there is a fence which is not possible to straddle. I know what side of the fence I am on, but until Robins acknowledges the existence of the fence, he will continue to lend aid and comfort to those committed to the destruction of Israel and to much of what the progressive West holds dear.

Mike Berger

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