These were countries, institutions, and leaders who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, make a clear moral distinction between Israel, a democratic nation seeking nothing more than quiet on its border with Hamas-ruled Gaza, and Hamas, a terrorist regime determined to fulfill its charter calling for Israel’s destruction.
Before moving on to my top ten candidates for the Moral Clarity Award, it’s worth noting two must-additions to that first list.
One is Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who, mind-bogglingly, condemned Israel for not sharing its Iron Dome system with Gaza’s “governing authority,” i.e., Hamas, and faulted the U.S. for assisting Israel with the defensive shield and not doing the same for Gaza.
And the other are the five Latin American nations – Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Peru – that recalled their ambassadors from Israel, a step taken by no one else.
These countries, to the surprise of many, showed a lack of sensitivity to the danger faced by Israel from Hamas, and to the millions of Israelis forced to rush to shelters at a moment’s notice as rockets and missiles, more than 3,000 in total, were aimed at their country.
And now to the Moral Clarity Award winners, noting that, fortunately, there were more worthy candidates than space provides for here.
The United States, which remains Israel’s closest friend and most indispensable ally.
Never for a moment did the U.S. question Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas-instigated violence. When it came to the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, the U.S. stood totally alone in opposing a pernicious resolution that ignored Hamas’s culpability and called for a new Goldstone-like investigative commission targeted at Israel. And the life-saving Iron Dome system was made possible with the invaluable support of the Obama administration.
To be sure, there have been a few testy moments between Washington and Jerusalem during the tension of war, but they shouldn’t be confused, not for a moment, with the strength of this enduring, unique, and mutually beneficial relationship.
The United States Congress, which doesn’t agree on a whole lot these days, but took two vitally important steps over the past month.
The first was to adopt unanimous resolutions in both the Senate and House voicing support for Israel in the face of Hamas rockets, missiles, and infiltration tunnels. And the second was to approve additional funding for the Iron Dome system – unanimously in the Senate and with only eight dissenting votes (of 435) in the House. The bill was immediately signed into law by President Obama.
What remarkable expressions of bipartisan friendship and understanding!
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a hero to many for his consistent support of Israel and the Jewish people, who stood by Israel’s side throughout the conflict with Hamas.
Here’s a quintessential Harper comment: “Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. Canada reiterates its call for the Palestinian government to disarm Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups operating in Gaza, including the Iranian proxy, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, another staunch friend of Israel, who said: “We recognize Israel’s right to self-defense, and we deplore the firing of rockets, the constant firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel.” No moral ambiguity or evasiveness from the Australian leader, but rather the straightforward we-say-it-as-we-see-it approach we’ve come to expect from Down Under.
Paraguay, which steadfastly refused to join with its Mercosur partners in the South American economic bloc – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela – in singling out Israel for criticism while ignoring Hamas’s responsibility for initiating the current conflict.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the leader of the country that, in 1943, went to extraordinary lengths to save almost its entire Jewish community from the clutches of the occupying Nazis, who declined to join with fellow Nordic countries in signing a joint statement strongly criticizing Israel’s actions in Gaza.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who weathered strong criticism from leaders of his coalition partner, the Liberal Democratic Party, the opposition Labor Party, and even a Conservative member of his own Cabinet, to defend Israel’s right to defend itself, and who condemned “Hamas’s refusal to end their rocket attacks despite all efforts to broker a ceasefire.”
Egypt, the most populous Arab country and Gaza’s neighbor, which better than many Western countries understood the true nature of Hamas, its organic link to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the threat it posed not only to Israel but also to moderate Arab regimes.
In particular, Egypt was most helpful on various fronts. First, it shut down the smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt, which were an essential artery for Hamas to bring in weapons and component parts. Second, whether it said so or not, it fully grasped the necessity of Israel responding to Hamas-triggered violence. And third, it played an essential role in seeking to broker a ceasefire arrangement, providing a needed alternative to the pro-Hamas Qatar-Turkey track.
As Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukri, said at one point: “Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians.” (With the benefit of hindsight, the number could have been in the hundreds).
Azerbaijan Airlines, British Airways, Czech Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, and the other airlines which ignored the FAA’s misguided decision and continued flying in and out of Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport.
They understood the airport was safe and well-protected, and they refused to join in the knee-jerk reaction of too many other airlines.
And speaking of the FAA, no such list would be complete without Michael Bloomberg, New York’s three-term mayor and a pilot himself.
As soon as he heard about the FAA’s warning, he booked a ticket on El Al and flew to Israel. In a CNN interview explaining his decision, he said: “The fact that one rocket falls…a mile away doesn’t mean you should shut down air traffic into a country and paralyze the country…That’s how terrorists win. You can’t do that.”
Now, if that’s not moral clarity, what is?
The last month has been a test of moral vision. While too many failed the test, happily, there were those that passed with flying colors. We should remember who’s who.