Former CIA director John Brennan has long been delivering himself of his most unsympathetic view of Israel and of Jews. Even before the latest Hamas attacks against Israel, his recent remarks attracted a good deal of criticism, here.
Jewish readers are furious about a New York Times opinion writer who issued a tweet complaining that he can’t understand why Jews aren’t more “empathetic champions” of the Palestinians.
The tweet was by John O. Brennan, who was director of the Central Intelligence Agency during President Obama’s administration. It said, “I always found it difficult to fathom how a nation of people deeply scarred by a history replete with prejudice, religious persecution, & unspeakable violence perpetrated against them would not be the empathetic champions of those whose rights & freedoms are still abridged.”
Brennan linked to a New York Times “guest essay” — the paper’s new term for an op-ed piece — that he had written. The essay dredges up an unverifiable anecdote from 1975. “I was excited about visiting Jerusalem and spending Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. I joined a relatively short line, which moved at a steady and efficient pace,” Brennan writes. “A few feet away, I could see men, women and children in a much longer line fully enclosed by steel mesh fencing labeled ‘Palestinians and Arabs.’ I saw several subjected to discourtesy and aggressive searches by Israeli soldiers.”
Can John Brennan really be unaware of why the line for “Palestinians and Arabs” moved more slowly than the line he was in, largely made up of Christians visiting Bethlehem on Christmas Eve? It had nothing to do with discrimination; it had to do, rather, with security concerns, and with saving lives, including, just possibly, the life of John Brennan himself. The Israelis were subjecting those in the slow-moving line to security checks, just to make sure there were no weapons – guns, grenades, lethal chemicals – being smuggled in, and to check those entering against a terrorist watch list. Was that so hard for Brennan to understand? He says he saw “several” — two, three? – “subjected to discourtesy and aggressive searches.” My goodness, how terrible of the Israelis trying, under extreme time pressure (trying to make sure everyone got into Bethlehem for Christmas Eve services), to ensure that recalcitrant and uncooperative Palestinians would empty their pockets, open their bags for inspection, allow themselves to be patted down. A search very much like that undertaken at airport security. This is all done not out of motiveless malignity, but in order to save lives. But John Brennan was offended. Perhaps if he had lived in Israel, and been subject to terror attacks, he might have felt differently. Empathy is not his strong suit.
Brennan writes that “young girls and boys who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip grow up traumatized by injustice, discrimination and violence. They live with the feeling that their existence is controlled by people who don’t care about their welfare, their safety or their future.”
John Brennan claims that the Palestinian “young girls and boys” he refers to as having grown up with “injustice” is an “injustice” caused by the Israelis. He’s got it all wrong. The main injustice endured by the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank is that of being ruled over by colossally corrupt despots. These homegrown kleptocrats steal so much of the aid money meant for those “young girls and boys”and all the other Palestinians. That grand theft constitutes a very great “injustice.” Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist. Just two Hamas leaders, Khaled Meshaal and Mousa Abu Marzouk, have each amassed fortunes of $2.5 billion; while 600 other upper-echelon members of Hamas have become multi-millionaires. Hamas keeps itself in power in Gaza through terrorizing any who dare oppose it, as when it crushed its rival Fatah and pushed it out of the Strip in 2007, killing hundreds of Fatah members in the process.
In the West Bank, President-For-Life Mahmoud Abbas, now entering the sixteenth year of his four-year term, is another corrupt despot diverting aid money to his own coffers. His fortune is estimated to be $400 million; that may not rival what the Hamas top dogs have taken, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. No wonder Abbas is so despised in both Gaza and the West Bank, where 60% of the people would vote for any of his rivals, Marwan Barghouti, Mohammed Dahlan, or any candidate from Hamas.
Brennan also deplores the “violence” those “young girls and boys” – Palestinians – grow up with. That “violence” is the fault of the Palestinians themselves. It is the Palestinians who encourage a culture of violence, in the contents of their schoolbooks and children’s shows, encouraging young children to want to kill Israelis. And some of them, once grown, do exactly that. When Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad launch rockets into civilian areas of southern Israel, the Israelis naturally fire back, in order to quell those attacks. But unlike the Palestinians who aim at civilian targets, Israel takes great care to minimize civilian casualties. This is made difficult because the Palestinians deliberately place their weapons in civilian buildings – schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, mosques. The IDF warns Palestinians in advance of attacks, by telephoning them, by emailing them, by using the “knock-on-the-roof” technique so that they have time to flee from places about to be hit. Israel has no desire to create civilian casualties, while Hamas, in contradistinction, wants there to be such casualties, in order to blacken Israel’s image. Hamas has even brought children close to Israel’s security fence during those weekly episodes of the Great March of Return, indifferent to the danger to them, and even hoping some of them might be inadvertently hit by Israeli fire. They are expendable, if it helps The Cause of Palestine.
Brennan has passed over in silence that other group of children who have had to endure violence — the little Israelis who grow up with the scream of Palestinian rockets landing in their fields, their farms, their kindergartens, their homes, in the villages and cities of southern Israel. Israeli children learn to quickly run for cover – there are bomb shelters attached to many houses and buildings in southern Israel – but childhoods punctuated by sirens suddenly going off, and mad dashes to bomb shelters to avoid being hit, cannot have been easy.
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