Jonah Goldberg

Things are going poorly in Gaza. Who among us can contain our shock?

A densely populated, profoundly poor and intensely angry territory, the Gaza Strip is run by Hamas, a band of thugs proudly committed to the destruction of their neighbor, Israel. Hamas, according to The New York Times, is mimicking Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organization funded by Iran and Syria. Hezbollah masterminded the practice of launching rockets into Israel from civilian areas and then screaming "war crime" whenever Israel responded to the attacks.

"What we learned from Hezbollah," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, "is that resistance is a choice that can work."

Translation: If you thought we were committed to permanent war with Israel before, you ain't seen nothing yet. Indeed, Hamas seems to have gotten more than mere inspiration from Hezbollah. Hamas is now firing more sophisticated rockets, allegedly imported from Hezbollah's patron in Tehran.

The irony is that the "Jewish entity," as Hamas sometimes calls it, is obligated, according to human-rights groups, to provide food, water and electricity to Hamas' subjects, even as those subjects openly support Hamas' ongoing war on Israel. It's a bit like being required to provide a hot meal and a warm bed to an intruder even though he intends to kill you in your sleep.

"Israel has the right and obligation to protect its citizens, but as the occupying power in Gaza it also has a legal duty to ensure that Gazans have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care," Kate Allen, Amnesty International's UK director, told The Telegraph. "Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible."

There are a few problems here. First, food, clean water, electricity and medical care may be all kinds of things, but they aren't human rights. They may indeed be the minimum obligations a modern state must meet in terms of its citizens' needs, but there is no inalienable right to material stuff.

More important, we are constantly told that the Palestinians aren't Israel's people. Whatever obligations Israel might have to provide food, water, electricity and health care to its own citizens, it's not clear why it has those obligations to the Gazans, particularly when those Gazans are committed to the destruction of Israel.

Human-rights groups say Israel must provide these things because Israel is the "occupying power." But Israel no longer occupies Gaza, which Amnesty knows. That's why they say Israel's "blockade" of Gaza is indistinguishable from occupation.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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