Hard to place fault in Middle East

By Tibor Machan: Freedom New Mexico columnist

When you’re bombarded with information about events on which the history is ancient and so complex hardly anyone commenting makes sense of them, it is tough to judge.

That’s how it is with me and the current upheaval between Israel and Hamas.

The news reports at the beginning said Israel took military action after hundreds of missiles were being launched at it from Gaza. So to rid the Gaza Strip of the missile launchers, Israel began to target various areas from which the missiles were being launched, presumably centers where Hamas had most of its personnel and equipment located.

Further reports, especially on CNN International, observed that Israel’s response to the initiation of aggression by Hamas was disproportionate to what Hamas did to Israel.

Still, as with most fights, this one had to start with someone throwing the first punch, as it were, and that seems to have been Hamas this last time.

The Israelis claim all they want is for the missile launching to stop, and Hamas spokesmen on CNN say they will only stop if Israel stops its aggression.

But this is confused since Hamas clearly started the launching of missiles out of the Gaza Strip and isn’t disputing this. So how could Israel be the aggressor? To aggress is to begin a fight, not to respond to one being initiated.

As I was watching report after report on CNN, while attending a conference — and getting no sleep — in Mexico, I noticed the reporters of this news network kept repeating the claim, made by Hamas leaders and others who support Hamas and oppose Israel, that Israel is targeting innocent civilians.

Yet it is nearly impossible to tell who is a civilian in the Gaza conflict, judging by the footage showing various groups of young people and adults shooting whatever weapons they have at hand and throwing rocks in the direction of the border between Israel and the strip.

Unfortunately, the reports fail to include any discussion of how one is to tell the difference between Hamas civilians and Hamas militia. I have never seen any footage showing Hamas soldiers, if they exist; Israel, however, does distinguish between its civilians and its army by way of their garb.

When you’re bombarded with selective, nearly haphazard information about events around the globe, there is not much you can do but listen carefully and determine who is making logical mistakes — who is equivocating, who is being evasive and vague, who is being clear.

By that criterion I have to say my provisional assessment of what is reported from the Middle East leaves me with the impression that Israel is less responsible for the recent mess than Hamas. That’s as well as I can do with the immediate information at hand.

It is puzzling why so many Western academics seem to get on board with the anti-Israel stance. No, I don’t call it anti-Semitism because I don’t know the motivation behind their position. I do know they nearly always favor Israel’s enemies and consider America’s official pro-Israel stance something wrongheaded, based not on considerations of justice but on the so-called influence of the Jewish Lobby.

Tibor Machan advises Freedom Communications, parent company of this newspaper. E-mail him at: TMachan@link.freedom.com