White House Middle East coordinator Phillip Gordon scolded Israel on Tuesday, even as Israelis hid from Hamas rockets that plunged from the heavens like deadly hailstones.
Israel “cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely,” Gordon said in a Tel Aviv speech. “Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability.” Gordon added that Israel’s leaders “should not take for granted the opportunity to negotiate.”
Gordon addressed Israel’s role in the West Bank and its relationship with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. However, Gordon just as easily could have invoked the Gaza Strip.
As if psychically predicting Gordon’s speech, Israel in August 2005 decided that it could not “maintain military control of another people indefinitely.” So it capitalized on “the opportunity to negotiate” and did something astonishing:
Israel expelled from Gaza some 9,000 Jews in 25 settlements. Those who lingered were ejected by Israeli soldiers. And then — in a major confidence-building gesture — Israel bequeathed the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, like a landlord handing a tenant a home deed. Jew-free at last, which pleased many Palestinians, Gaza’s denizens faced a golden opportunity.
“We want to build the most dynamic bank between Gibraltar and the Taj Mahal,” Gaza’s leaders could have said. Financiers from Wells Fargo to Sumitomo would have flown in and shown them how — pro bono.
“We want the deepest-thinking university in this time zone to blossom in this soil,” top Gazans could have announced. Deans and professors from Stanford to Georgetown to Oxford would have rushed there to develop curricula, erect academic buildings, and stock libraries with Earth’s most compelling books and periodicals. World-class faculty would have flocked in.
“We want the loveliest tourist spot on the eastern Mediterranean,” Gaza’s honchos could have stated. Experts from Hilton to Club Med to Carnival Cruises would have sailed in with their talents.
By now, Gaza could be developing into the Hong Kong, Berkeley, or Cancun of the Middle East. “And we, the Palestinians, built this — once Israel left,” Gazans could have said, as proud as Americans after Cornwallis and the Redcoats sailed home in defeat.
Gaza’s Palestinians have done little with their territory other than turn it into a launch pad for heaving projectiles at Israel. Beneath the iron fist of the Islamic extremists of Hamas, anti-Semitic rockets have become Gaza’s chief export.
“Since June 30, 450 missiles were fired into Israel, of which 58 were intercepted,” Yigal Palmor tells me. The spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Jerusalem, added, “The others fell in open areas, and only a couple were missed by Iron Dome,” Israel’s extremely effective and relatively low-cost anti-missile defense system.
Last month saw 36 rocket attacks from Gaza, versus nine in May. These assaults have skyrocketed lately, along with tensions after the kidnappings and murder of teenage yeshiva students Naftali Fraenkel (an American citizen), Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrah. The alleged revenge killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir by Israeli Jews has brought everything to a boil.
Gazan missiles sent Philip Gordon’s audience scrambling for safety at the David Intercontinental Hotel just hours before he spoke there. To stop such onslaughts, Israel destroys launch sites, many cynically stationed by Hamas in civilian neighborhoods — all the better to create martyrs for Allah and bloody videos that boost sympathy for the Palestinian cause.
While Israel always gets blamed for anything worse than a paper cut among the Palestinians, a website called Elder of Ziyon notes that some Gazan casualties are caused by terrorist rockets that drop short of Israel and land inside Gaza. When they go boom, Hamas fingers the Jews.
In an irony of almost biblical proportions, the Gazan rockets would not be roaring down from the skies if Israel had not generously pried its citizens from Gaza and delivered the strip on a serving tray to the Palestinians. And the thanks Israel gets could not be more vividly displayed.
In this respect, Israel has become a 13,000-square-mile metaphor for the fact that no good deed goes unpunished.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.