Monday, February 2, 2009

Jews – An Endangered Species by Tamar Siegel

My daughter, the subject of an earlier essay entitled Educating Tami recently wrote this essay and asked that I post it.


Lately I have been obsessing over the Polar Bears. They are on the Endangered Species List, as they should be. They are loosing their natural habitat due to Global warming as well as been hunted down as their numbers decline practically to the point of no return. I’ve been thinking a lot about Polar Bears because as the war in Gaza progressed with few casualties among the IDF but high numbers amongst the Palestinians living in Gaza I noticed a rise in anti-Israel rhetoric. Why that triggered in my psyche an obsessive focusing on Polar Bears is obvious. We too are fast becoming, an endangered species.
I realize that the Endangered Species Act refers to fish and wildlife. I do believe, however that Jews or should I say the Jewish people ought to be included, even though we are members of the human race. We care so much for all those species that have been endangered either because of environmental changes that threaten habitats or because humans have been recklessly abusing the wonderful gifts of nature by hunting them down to perilous low numbers.
There is precedent for placing humans on the Endangered Species List. You may recall that after the Holocaust there was a spate of laws and good will directed toward the physical rehabilitation of the remnants of the Jewish People. Europeans became more tolerant; with a tendency toward national introspection as to how could something like this happen in sophisticated and civilized Europe. They even legislated away anti-Semitism, and were supportive of a Jewish state. Israel is a product of the United Nations, backed and supported by the Europeans and Americans.
It was because of the massive European / American support and approval of a Jewish state and their goodwill towards the Jewish people that the rehabilitation of an almost extinct people was successful. We were on the Endangered Species List of a unique kind; yet because of it we were able to rebuild, reclaim and rehabilitate ourselves – but never our numbers. The six million that were lost and those generations that would have sprung forth from them will never be. We are in a deficit growth and that deficit is growing exponentially annually.
Believe it or not, the Jewish People are still in the midst of a national rehabilitation and can’t tolerate very well attrition on its numbers or safety. So when the rockets from Gaza would not stop it made perfect sense that we would have to silence them. Prior to his election, Barack Obama said that if his family was exposed to a bombardment of rockets, he would do everything in his power to stop such attack. Nevertheless, in years past, there has been criticism leveled against Israel for assuming a robust defensive posture; today however it is not only not tolerated but the tone of those objecting to Israel’s position on security needs has become downright dirty and anti-Semitic. We are off the Endangered Species List and it seems that they want to be done with us – as quickly and as neatly as possible.
The anti Israel rhetoric is really just a ruse. It really is anti Semitism and for several reasons: The languages of the protests aren’t only against Israel’s incursion into Gaza, but also referencing the need to put us in the gas chambers and finish the work of Hitler. A U.N. investigator, Richard Falk, had the audacity to equate the IDF to the Nazi's and Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto. That is the all time cosmic joke: We who seek to protect our borders from rockets randomly targeting our population centers are now being compared to Nazis who hunted down and gassed Jews. If it wasn’t so serious I would call it a joke emanating from Chelm. But wait: Jews world wide are targeted for the defensive incursion of the IDF! If that isn’t anti Semitic what is?
But there are other indicators that we are off the Endangered Species List: the double standard that the world has chosen to apply to Israel. Alan M. Dershowitz, an eminent author and lawyer, has written various articles on the subject matter. The overriding message in these works is, "Israel is the only democracy in the world ever accused of war crimes when it fights a defensive war to protect its civilians [...] in light of the fact that Israel has killed far less civilians than any other country in the world that has faced comparable threats." One of the more blatant examples of this double standard is the recent war waged by Russia against Chechnya. Russians willfully killed thousands of civilians, but the academics who lambast Israel as Nazis have never called for a war crimes tribunal against them, yet they are quick to call them for Israel. Where were the riots and protests in the streets of Europe and Arab countries when thousands of civilians were murdered in Rwanda or Darfur? It took the lone voice of George Clooney to bring attention to the mass murder in Darfur. The double standard is alive and well and the Jews are definitely off the Endangered Species List.
It is quite remarkable that as the Jewish people are omitted from the list, the Palestinians have now replaced them. I frequently have political conversations with various people I come in contact and of course, the "situation" in Israel often surfaces. Much to my dismay, I find that many liberals are lamenting the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza who took a "beating" from the Israelis. This is ironic however, because as seen in the political cartoon, the Palestinian people are putting themselves in danger. Hamas uses their children as human shields. Typically mosques, schools and medical teams are immune from attacks. Nevertheless, when Hamas uses their holy sites for weapon storage, hospitals as their headquarters, and places military targets adjacent to the presence of children, all immunity is lost (Robbie Sabel, legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry). Despite this, Israel has still refrained from attacking hospitals because of civilian casualties. Also, Israel has never attacked a school knowing children were there.
Israel has been attacked with around 700 rockets since the fighting has begun, and still it has been accused of using disproportionate force. This is a ludicrous allegation because in a conflict such as this, an army has the right to destroy the enemy's armed forces. In addition, Ambassador Dore Gold has affirmed that "according to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according the size and range of weaponry used against it."

It is evident that although the Jewish people are still an "endangered species", they have not only lost their spot on the list, but they are now being condemned for protecting themselves. We now have to look out for ourselves; to nurture ourselves; to rehabilitate ourselves. Jewish blood is very expensive. It’s really a question o f supply and demand. There are so few Jews in the world that our blood has premium value. Spilling Jewish blood will cost a lot. If a radical Muslim thinks he can attempt to eradicate the Jewish people or the State of Israel without paying a high price he is sadly mistaken. That lesson was learned in Lebanon and I believe was learned the hard way in Gaza.