Don’t go down that showdown road

Don’t go down that showdown road

On March 16, Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, told a gathering at UJA of Northern New Jersey in Paramus that “[e]veryone is a human being to the Jewish people. No other army has been as concerned with human life and dignity as the Jewish army.”

We do not doubt that. But the news from Israel in the last few days, about some Israeli soldiers’ alleged wrongful behavior during Operation Cast Lead against Gaza, is, if true, a stain of destruction and civilian death on a record otherwise to be praised.

The ambassador also noted that mistakes are made in war – and the alleged actions of those few soldiers and those religious leaders who reportedly egged them on were certainly mistaken, for more reasons than one.

The same can be said of the far-right-wing incursion – and that is the right word – into the Israeli-Arab city of Umm el-Fahm. (See page 34.)

Fifty marchers, waving Israeli flags, shouting “Am Yisrael Chai,” and flanked by police, barreled their way down the main street of this home to about 50,000 Arabs. Of course, that started a riot – what else could they have expected? It also, no doubt, increased hatred of Israelis and Jews in the region and even around the globe.

What was the point? Just to make trouble? To throw their weight around?

We can understand – although not condone – a soldier’s crossing the line in the heat and confusion of warfare. But the Umm el-Fahm marchers went out of their way to cross that line, and that is inexcusable. It was also a tactical mistake – unless their goal was to smear Israel’s name in the world media.

At a time when organizations like Human Rights Watch accuse Israel of “war crimes,” at a time when Israel is lobbying against being branded as “racist” at venues like the United Nations and the upcoming Durban Review Conference in Geneva, this is not the way to ensure that “Am Yisrael Chai” – the people of Israel live