Outraged by Arizona's immigration policies, the Los Angeles City Council wants to boycott the Grand Canyon State. When will the United Nations condemn Los Angeles for its callous pursuit of collective punishment? To be sure, the boycott is mainly symbolic, but at least in principle the measure is aimed at hurting all Arizonans regardless of whether they support the "regime" in Phoenix. That's collective punishment.
And why isn't the world outraged by the wholesale deprivation we're inflicting on the North Koreans? Why do we even bother talking about sanctions against Iran, which will surely hurt the average Iranian more than the mullahs and the kleptocrats running the Revolutionary Guard? We've been maintaining an embargo against Cuba for half a century. In the lead-up to the Iraq war, the supposed voices of peace and sanity argued for "giving the sanctions time to work" and "keeping Iraq in the box" -- the "box" being a stiff sanctions regime. What was so great about the sanctions against South Africa if they too were a form of collective punishment?
Only one blockade is deemed indefensibly beyond the pale: Israel's blockade of Gaza. Why? Because it imposes "collective punishment." The U.N. Human Rights Council, which rarely finds time to condemn the barbaric practices of its own members, routinely denounces the blockade as a crime against humanity.
The blockade, which is surely causing real suffering, is entirely the fault of Hamas and the Palestinians who support it. When the brutal terrorist outfit consolidated power in a bloody coup, it proceeded to rain down missiles indiscriminately on Israel for years (talk about collective punishment). Israel finally launched a strike to stop the attacks and was, predictably, denounced as an aggressor by the usual suspects. Even now, Hamas won't accept the supposedly vital humanitarian cargo seized by the Israelis last week. Why? Because it's lost its propaganda value, and because it's been sullied by Jewish hands.
Recently, I debated my friend Peter Beinart on television about the flotilla incident. In the current New York Review of Books, he tears into liberal American Jews for their support of the blockade, a symbol of Israel's descent into illiberalism. He laments that about 80 percent of Gazans are on food aid and -- allegedly -- many staples are being denied the Gazans. "Chocolate is not something that can be turned into a missile," Beinart told me on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor." "And yet, it's not allowed to be imported into Gaza."