Steve Sheffey’s Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update, June 10, 2018

Still Hasn’t Happened

Friends,

Israel is fighting an asymmetric war against Hamas. Gazans will sustain greater casualties, and Israel will lose the media war regardless of the underlying causes. For Hamas, that’s a good trade-off. Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction and initiated this conflict, leaving Israel with no choice but to protect its citizens. This means that tragic mistakes will occur, as they will in any war fought by any army, let alone an army fighting an enemy operating from within densely populated civilian areas.

Lenny Ben-David writes that while most Israelis consider the death of innocent Gazans “terribly tragic” and “appalling,” most Israelis also know that the IDF does not deliberately target civilians and believe that the war Hamas is waging against them leaves Israel no choice but to respond as it does. Agree or disagree, this is a legitimate perspective that we owe it to ourselves to understand.

But as Yair Rosenberg documents, there is an even broader context, and while there is no moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel, Israel is partially responsible for conditions in Gaza. Rabbi Donniel Hartman writes from Israel that I do not believe that Israel is principally responsible for the reality which is Gaza, but it does bear some responsibility. I do not believe that our soldiers on the border of Gaza are firing on demonstrators, but are engaged in a war. I do not believe that the Hamas-inspired action on the border poses an existential threat to the State of Israel. It does, however, pose a life-and-death danger for many Israelis. At the same time, 60 human beings were killed and thousands were injured in one day…

We can believe that the events in Gaza are a war against Israel, support our soldiers, and still desire a public debate over the means necessary to win this war. I don’t value Monday morning moral philosophers, nor expressions of “concern” for loss of life. I do value serious moral reflection on how to ensure that we live up to our military moral code, which demands that even when force is used in self-defense, we only use the amount of force necessary and in proportion to the danger that we face, and that we do everything in our power to avoid civilian casualties. I do desire an Israeli society which welcomes and engages in this discourse…

Gaza paralyzes me, because human beings are dying at my hands, and I do not know how to prevent it. Gaza frightens me, because it is so easy to forget it and sing, regardless of what is happening there. Gaza challenges us, for it is in Gaza that our commitment to the value of human life is and will be tested.

We may not be principally responsible for the reality which is Gaza, but like all moral human beings, we must constantly ask ourselves whether and how we can be part of the solution. As Jews, we are commanded to walk in the way of God, a God who declares, “My creation is drowning, and what are you doing about it?”

 

Iran continues to comply with the JCPOA. Who would have predicted that the U.S. would violate the JCPOA before Iran did? Then again, who would have predicted Donald Trump would become President of the United States? Kelsey Davenport explains that the risk of Iran pulling out of the deal in response to the imposition of U.S. sanctions that violate the deal “underscores the critical importance of the P4+1 and Iran finding a way forward to continue” the Iran Deal.

The Washington Post gave Four Pinocchios (that’s not good) to Trump’s claim on Thursday that the Obama’s administration’s efforts to give Iran access to the financial system were illegal. Jarrett Blanc, a former State Department coordinator for the JCPOA, has more background on how the Obama administration helped Iran move funds from Oman to Europe.

Just for the record, not only were the economic benefits to Iran under the Iran Deal overstated, but the $1.7 billion settlement reached with Iran saved taxpayers money.

 

Is U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman right? He thinks the media is biased against Israel. Ron Kampeas analyzes Friedman’s claim. Decide for yourself whether Friedman was complaining about bias or good journalism.

Still Hasn’t Happened:

  • Congress has yet to pass any meaningful gun safety legislation, and no matter how many more people are murdered, Congress will not act as long as Republicans control Congress. If that sounds partisan, read Paul Waldman.
  • Not one Republican member of the Illinois Congressional delegation has endorsed Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) over an actual Nazi.
  • Trump still has yet to fill the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving his word that it would be filled.