“I … do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…” — part of the oath of office for U.S. representatives.
“Designated by the United States as a terrorist group in 1995, Hamas has killed more than 500 civilians — including two-dozen Americans — in suicide bombings and other attacks.” — website of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“The last 48 hours in Israel: 690 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians. 240 Iron Dome Aerial Defense System interceptions. 210,000 children had school cancelled. 4 Israeli civilians killed.” — tweet by the Israel Defense Forces, May 6
“How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends? The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace.” — tweet from Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., May 6.
How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?
The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 5, 2019
Well, this is certainly an interesting take from a sitting representative. On Friday, according to the Israeli military, a sniper with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad wounded two Israeli troops. Israel responded with air strikes that killed two Hamas militants. The situation escalated from there, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad launching rockets at Israeli villages and towns.
Israel retaliated, as is its right: Hamas is a terrorist organization and enemy of the United States that indiscriminately fired rockets into Israel.
Yet, Hamas and Islamic Jihad continued to portray themselves as the victims: “Our response will be broader and more painful if the enemy pursues its aggression,” the groups said in a joint statement Saturday, according to Reuters.
For now, a tenuous peace prevails. According to the Israeli news site Haaretz, the death toll stands at four Israelis, 23 Palestinians. However, Rep. Omar’s overt support of Hamas talking points is something that’s worth examination.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming probably had the best response to Omar’s tweet:
1. Hamas controls Gaza.
2. Hamas is firing rockets at civilians in Israel. 3. @IlhanMN is defending Hamas. Real question is how many times will @IlhanMN rush to the defense of terrorists? https://t.co/mrKQBz1TDa
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) May 5, 2019
This is all demonstrably true. Gaza isn’t “occupied” by anyone except Hamas. And, as David French pointed out at National Review, Israel had every right under international law regarding war to invade Gaza and crush Hamas.
“Let’s break this down as simply as possible,” French wrote in a piece published Monday. “First, firing 600 rockets at civilian targets in a neighboring country is an act of war. It’s an attack by an army against a nation-state, and as such it grants the nation-state the authority under the international law of armed conflict not just to disable the specific military assets used to carry it out but to destroy those who carried it out.
“Second, a terrorist army cannot lawfully protect itself from destruction by blending in with civilian populations, fighting from civilian structures, or using civilians as human shields. As the Department of Defense’s Law of War Manual states, the principle of distinction ‘enjoins the party controlling the population to use its best efforts to distinguish or separate its military forces and war-making activities from members of the civilian population to the maximum extent feasible so that civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects incidental to attacks on military objectives will be minimized as much as possible.’
“This means physically separating military and civilian facilities,” French wrote. “This means using uniforms, markings, and other measures to make sure that military forces and civilians are ‘visually distinguished from one another.’ And this means refraining from using ‘protected persons and objects’ — civilians or civilian structures — ‘to shield military objectives.’
“Hamas violates every single one of these commands,” French noted. “It uses civilian facilities for military purposes, it tries to blend in with the civilian population, and it uses civilians as human shields. This is crucial — under the law of war none of these things in any way limit Israel’s right to defend itself. So long as Israel otherwise complies with the laws of war, the resulting civilian casualties and damages to civilian structures are Hamas’s moral and legal responsibility. It’s that simple.”
That last part is important.
The civilian casualties that Rep. Omar detests so loudly are primarily the result of Hamas’ normal tactics: They put the lives of their own political constituents in jeopardy in order to generate international sympathy.
This is all fine for the media, which seems to love a story where an alleged Israeli lack of restraint is the primary narrative. And yet, the utter lack of restraint — not to mention shame or concern for human life — on the side of Hamas is never mentioned. In fact, one Hamas official bragged how the group had perfected a tactic that allowed it to overcome the Iron Dome, Israel’s missile defense system:
“The Qassam Brigades, thanks to God, succeeded in overcoming the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of missiles in one single burst,” Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida wrote on social media, according to the Times of Israel.
This wasn’t accurate, according to the Times of Israel, but that doesn’t erase the sentiment: The terrorists were overjoyed at the mere prospect of penetrating the Iron Dome and hitting civilians.
The fact that Israel was hitting civilians, meanwhile, had nothing to do with intent but the fact that Hamas deliberately locates critical military targets in positions where civilians can (and will) be hit.
This remains unmentioned by Rep. Omar, who seems perfectly fine defending Hamas against “[t]he status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis.”
The first part is demonstrably false, the second part is entirely of Hamas’ own making.
It’s entirely possible to either feel sympathy for the people of Gaza and the West Bank or to believe that the status quo needs to change without blithely repeating the talking points of Hamas, a terrorist organization.
At this point, I have pretty low standards for Rep. Omar’s conduct. I merely ask that she uphold the basic standards of her oath.
When she tacitly stands up for a declared enemy of the United States, a group that’s been a designated terror organization for over two decades, I fear she’s not even clearing that low bar.
There are plenty of ways to responsibly criticize America’s policy in Israel. This isn’t one of them.
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