No Moral Equivalency With Hamas

As I pen this column, my fingers are crossed for the continuation of a cease-fire between Israel and the Gaza forces of Hamas — this after several weeks of intense warfare wreaking more havoc on Hamas than on Israel.

The lopsided score, if measured in personnel casualties (as the international community is very quick to do because it’s easier) has Israel winning because of the success of its Iron Dome missile defense system. Scores of Israeli casualties have been avoided because so many of the incoming Hamas rockets have been destroyed as they enter Israeli airspace.

But if Hamas had spent its foreign aid money on its own civic infrastructure (schools, parks, mosques, modern medical facilities) instead of its offensive rocket system randomly targeting Israeli neighborhoods, and the extensive network of sophisticated tunnels that facilitate its terrorist attacks on Israelis, scores of Palestinian casualties could have been avoided.

But, as we have seen, it goes beyond a simple allocation of resources. It goes to the fundamental difference in attitude between death-loving terrorists and life-loving non-terrorists. On one hand, for the protection of its citizens in Israel, the Israeli government has provided a dense network of shelters and warning sirens — and ultimately the aforementioned defensive Iron Dome. Hamas, on the other hand, has forced its “citizens” (if they can be called that) to stay in likely or known target areas of Gaza, even when an Israeli attack is known to be imminent.

Hamas stores its war supplies, weapons and rockets in or adjacent to mosques, hospitals and schools, seeking to maximize its own civilian casualties — preferably women, children and old folks — for the higher propaganda value. The propaganda war is the only war Hamas can win, but only if the free world buys into it. We must be intolerant of any media coverage that tries to draw any moral equivalency between the two sides.

At his news conference last Wednesday, President Obama said that Hamas’ use of human shields was “irresponsible.” Conservative syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer was quick to point out “irresponsible” is what college boys are; Hamas’s tactics are war crimes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it best: “Israel protects its people with rockets, but Hamas protects its rockets with people.”

According to the U.S. Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who spent nearly five years as a Taliban POW in Afghanistan, has finished his medical and psychological readjustment, and is now ready to be interviewed by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl. According to Bergdahl’s Army lawyer (he also has one or two civilian lawyers,) the operative word here is “interview” as opposed to “interrogate.” He also said it would not be confrontational, just more like a conversation.

The “conversation” at this point will deal primarily with Bergdahl’s activities on the day he disappeared from his unit in a remote part of Afghanistan, and whether or not he actually was captured or if he stayed away of his own volition. Eventually, of course, we’ll find out the details of his incarceration, from which he apparently made two credible attempts to escape, but was then kept in an iron cage for some period.

Because I know Bergdahl’s parents and sister, and have a personal interest in the resolution of the unknowns, I am gratified that the investigation is going on. On an interim basis, the Army had assigned him to an administrative job at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, and I had feared they had intended to just let him and the whole issue become overcome by events like so many other important issues in the Obama administration.

Bergdahl deserves his day in court (most likely an Army courts martial), and the opportunity to clear his name. It looks like this is the beginning of that day.