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Susan Estrich
11 Jul 2014
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False Equivalence


The "crossfire" mentality that defines public discourse today has the obvious problem of ignoring the fact that most of us land somewhere in the middle, turning every debate into a shouting contest between the extremists who generate passion and ratings, and rarely reflecting the views of the majority in the middle. I've been saying for years that it might be just as entertaining, and certainly more productive, to see where ideological opposites find common ground. But until someone actually attempts it, we will keep spiraling down into extremism and incivility.

That, in my mind, is bad. What's worse is that our crossfire, right and left, mentality can create a sense of equivalence when there is no basis for it.

Survivors and deniers do not belong on the same platform.

Evolution is not debatable.

Israel and Hamas do not stand in the same shoes.

Poor Israel. Until the past day or two, the death toll scoreboard so widely reported in the media was running so lopsidedly in Israel's "favor" that Israel was being chastised because too few of its soldiers and civilians had died. But that is not for want of trying.

Hamas has launched thousands of rockets into Israel, one so close to Ben Gurion airport that American airlines were banned from flying there. Israel is being punished for investing in shelters (where families are literally living) and building a sophisticated missile defense system — in other words, for protecting its people. Hamas uses children and families as human shields for terrorists.

Israel gets cast in the eyes of the world as an aggressor, but this is not about conquering foreign land. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. This war is about finding and destroying the tunnels that were built to smuggle terrorists and weapons into Israel — more of them than anyone expected and some of them clearly built to target Israeli communities.

Israel is seeking to defend itself, seeking to stop the rockets and attacks. Hamas is seeking to destroy Israel, and they are willing to sacrifice their own wives and children to do it.

So how did Israel become the aggressor?

The murder of three Israeli teenagers was followed by the murder of a Palestinian teen. Equivalent? No. The Israelis suspected of murdering the Palestinian boy have been arrested and charged with terrorism. The Palestinians responsible for the death of the Israelis? If they ever are identified, it doubtless would be to celebrate them.

There are real human beings suffering on both sides. The fact that a father would use his child as a human hostage hardly means that the child deserves to die. If a ceasefire could be negotiated, if the tunnels can be shut down, if an international body can disarm Hamas, the people of Gaza would be infinitely better off. They might be able to share in the economic growth and energy of the Israeli economy, instead of living in dire poverty. Their children could sleep safely at night, instead of worrying about whether their homes will be targeted and whether their parents will protect them.

Israel wants peace. Gaza desperately needs it. And yet its leaders prefer to fight Israel, to send rockets that mostly miss, to expose their children to missiles that mostly don't miss — rather than recognize Israel and make peace.

And Israel is to blame for that?

A friend forwarded an email to me from a relative in Israel, a wise and thoughtful email, not from a "hawk" or a "hardliner," but from a man who is living with sirens in the background and wondering how it is that the world press could be painting Israel as the villain in this fight.

It is a troubling question. I don't like any of the answers. Maybe it's just the crossfire culture. Or maybe it's because it's Israel.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



5 Comments | Post Comment
Dear Ms. Estrich,
Duh, just how stupid are the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza who cheer when they see Hamas shoot rockets into Israel, then cry the blues when they KNOW that Israel is going to respond in SPADES? My dog has a higher IQ than these people.
They need to get rid of Hamas in Gaza, and put in President Abbas. How many times do they need to be a human shield to realize something is not working here?
Nuff Said...Dennis
Comment: #1
Posted by: Dennis
Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:31 AM
So how did Isreal become the aggressor? Really ? Estrich does not know.? Really ?

She should just look to her leftist pals, to her leftist Democratic Party, to all the progressive elites, to this current president and this current administration, to the leftists of Europe who the leftists here would emulate, who all share a hatred of Israel and a hatred of its existence and who will at every opportunity state a false moral equivalence between terror attacks by Muslims and self defense by Israel. I ask again how is it that Jews in the US consistently vote Democrat when the Democratic Party and the policies of Democratic Administrations are so consistently anti Semitic and anti Israel?

Come on Estrich. Speak what you know to be true.
Comment: #2
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:51 AM
There is no longer a 'middle America'. The current administration and the Progressives are doing a great job at moving citizens farther left and farther right. The only way to compromise now is to agree with the left and keep growing the federal government.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Oldtimer
Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:53 AM
Pretty easy to say you talking points and defend Israel.
Why not, is your column.
More than half my life spend support Israel and Jewish cause. No more. Jew victim card carry no more weight.
Every aggressor in HISTORY claimed to have been defending itself against their victims.
We were defending ourselves from Iraq, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc
Russia was defending itself Afghanistan, Georgia
North Korea against South Korea
The French against Indochina
The Nazis against the rest of Europe.
Even Genghis Khan called his takeover of much of the known world as "defense."

The Israeli human rights group B'tselem, citing the Israeli Shin Bet, notes that nearly 14,000 projectiles were fired from Gaza from 2005 to 2013.

UN OCHA noted that Israel fired about the same number of artillery shells into Gaza in 2006 alone.

In accordance with Glaser's observation, just 17 of the nearly 120 Israeli ceasefire violations over one year following the 2012 ceasefire were reported on by the New York Times.
This extensive under-reporting of Israeli ceasefire violations points to the immunity Israel enjoys in the West, and the incentive this provides Israel to continue to violate ceasefire agreements. Israeli forces can then "fire into Gaza without accountability, provoke a reaction and then claim self-defence."

Susan you been to Israel?

You and many blame Hamas for use/store weapons in populated areas maybe not know there very little space in Palestinian ghetto.
But more important maybe not know Jewish Defense Ministry is in the heart of highly populated Tel Aviv,
as is the army's main “war room.” And what about the military training base at Glilot, near the big mall? And the Shin Bet headquarters in Jerusalem, on the edge of a residential neighborhood?
And how far is the “sewing factory” in Dimona from residential areas?

Why is it all right for Israel to keep war materials and weapons in heart of their populations and not for Palestinian? Gaza 141 sq. miles, Palestinian population maybe 1.6 million. Do the math.

You talking point accuse Hamas say use children as shields and condemn Hamas. Why you no condemn Israel military for they use of Palestinian children as shields?
A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.

"Thousands of Palestinian children are systematically injured, tortured and used as human shields by Israel, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reported." Israel is as guilty as any for hiding behind civilians. Each time they grab another parcel of the West Bank, build illegal settlements to be occupied by Israelis and then complains when those settlements are attacked.

Israel controls the lives of Palestinians. According to thousands of Israel Defense Forces, Israel is systematically, "dominating, oppressing, humiliating and starving and entire people" But, it's hard to get good reporting in America. The USA Declaration of Independence, says that anyone living under such tyranny has a "right" and a "duty" to fight those oppressive tyrants.

What about Israel Declaration of Independence signed in Tel-Aviv on the sabbath 5th day of Iyar 5708 - 14th May 1948?
" will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."

By all international laws and Geneva convention accords, Israel is occupying an unlawful land for the Palestinians and is subjugating a whole population to it's cruel military rule (Think of a Jew ghetto in Nazi Germany). But, when they fight back, they're called terrorists, not Hamas, but all the Palestinians, and they are slaughtered by the hundreds! Netanyah condemn UN before world. Why? UN Human Rights groups start reporting on so called democratic Israel's treatment of non Jew in Israel,

Israel occupied and continues to occupy Gaza by controlling sea, air, food, materials, electricity, water, and everything that comes in and out of Gaza. That is considered a military occupation according to the Geneva convention accords and the UN resolutions.

The Gaza strip is Netanyahus deliberate provocation.....keep strangling these people and deny them any outside world contact with his yeah Hamas is a symptom of Israels oppression of this ghetto.
It's not 'terrorist' when you're fighting a military occupation, it's called resistance, think of the French resistance, Jewish resistance to the Nazi rule.
Gaza is basically an open-air prison for Palestinians controlled by the Israeli Army.

If there is ever a hope for peace Israeli hardline Jews Lieberman and Netanyahu and extremist Zionists will do what they can to snuff it out

Is understandable why many Americans ignorant of facts for AIPAC control much of media and politician and Israeli propaganda is fed to American for if know truth maybe say cut Israel support off immediately.
Be as may, would like to get to bottom of why you so ignorant of Israel treatment of Palestinian and non Jew?
Or maybe not ignorant. Maybe you such as those turn blind eye for you ok with slaughter and ethnic cleansing of race you consider 'troublemakers'. Make excuse for every provocation Netanyahu make against Palestine and then damn them for fight back and resist.

Comment: #4
Posted by: steveM
Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:22 AM
Well articulated. Thank you from Tel Aviv.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jonathan Dubitzky
Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:21 PM
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