Freelance journalist Kevin Sites was just another guy trying to make his way in the business until the battle of Fallujah. While accompanying US Marines into a mosque, Sites filmed a Marine shooting a prostrate terrorist lying in the mosque, then crassly pronouncing him dead. As the pictures made their way around the world, millions of anti-US voices rang up angrily denouncing the Marines for committing "war crimes." Overnight, Sites became an international star. Everyone wanted to read the Left's dazzling Johnny-on-the-Spot and all "right-thinking" people pronounced him a professional upholding the highest standards of journalism. Heady stuff for a reporter on the make and a powerful message for all aspiring plyers of the trade.
In Israel, our TV news broadcast Sites's footage over and over as wizened anchors shook their heads with revulsion over the inhumanity of US armed forces in Iraq. The newspapers played up coverage of the event to make certain that all of us knew just how awful American forces really are.
No one bothered to make mention of the fact that Marines and soldiers fighting in Fallujah had been repeatedly attacked by terrorists playing possum. No one bothered to make mention of the numerous instances of terrorists raising the white flag of surrender only to fire at forces coming to take them into custody. What does the context of the battle matter when a case can be made for vilifying US Marines as war criminals ? on the basis of Sites's isolated, deconstructionist footage ? rather than praising them as battle-trained warriors?
Terrorists have two basic advantages over the Western armies and societies that fight them: their own invisibility, and the self-obsession and hatred of Western Leftists. By not abiding by the centuries-old rules of war that stipulate that combatants are uniformed members of the armed forces of a country or a recognized insurgency in control of territory, the terrorists have an upper hand despite their relatively small numbers and outdated weaponry. How can a war be justified against an enemy you can't see who looks just like the civilians you are obligated by law and your values to protect?
Add to this the fact that terrorists eagerly exploit universally recognized symbols of non-combatants and you have a war that you simply cannot justify on camera. Terrorist shoot from mosques so mosques must be raided. Terrorists are transported in ambulances so ambulances must be inspected. But of course, the television cameras aren't filming when the terrorists fire RPGs from minarets, only when terrorists wounded while shooting them lay pitifully on the floor. And there is no camera on hand when they plant explosives beneath gurneys.
AND FOR all that, the US in Iraq is in a better position than Israel is in waging its counterterror operations against the Palestinians. Iraq is a heterogeneous society. The US can mobilize the Shi'ites and Kurds to assist its efforts to fight the Sunni Arab terrorists and it can depend on Iraqis generally to support coalition forces' efforts against foreign jihadists. Israel, on the other hand, is fighting against a homogeneous enemy. The Palestinians are almost exclusively Sunni Muslims and the majority of Palestinians support the aims of the terrorists to murder Israeli civilians with the eventual goal of destroying Israel.
For solipsistic Leftists, who reign supreme in Israel's media, academia and judiciary, the homogeneity of Palestinian society makes it all the easier to ignore the enemy while vainly walking through their distorted halls of mirrors and echo chambers. Their goal is to create a perception of reality in which the Palestinians are all innocent and Israel is always at fault. In recent weeks, their primary target has been the Israeli army.
A week and a half ago, Supreme Court justices demanded that Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz present them, in writing, with his views on the morality of collateral damage. The fact that there is no legal basis for this Orwellian thought control has never been raised by any of Israel's legal pundits or court reporters. Halutz's appointment to his job was opposed by the radical Left for a statement he made in a newspaper interview in which he said he slept like a baby after arch-terrorist Salah Shehadeh was killed by an IAF helicopter in 2002, despite the fact that civilians were also killed in the operation. The crusaders of mercy for Palestinian terrorists petitioned the Supreme Court to revoke his appointment. No one in the media ever questioned whether in a normal country these radical leftist organizations would have any standing, or wondered about the credentials of these groups that never launched a petition questioning the moral probity of Palestinian murderers with whom the Israeli government has negotiated.
Then we have the Palestinian violinist. On November 9, the radical Leftist "human rights" organization Machsom Watch videotaped a Palestinian playing his violin at an IDF checkpoint near Nablus. Machsom Watch is a group of enlightened ladies that fan out to checkpoints to ensure that soldiers charged with keeping terrorists out of Israel behave politely to Palestinians wishing to cross into Israel. According to its Web site, the organization is devoted to advancing Palestinian human rights. No mention whatsoever is made of Israeli human rights, but then why get bogged down by details? The fact made very plain by Machsom Watch's Web site is that the organization is devoted to exposing the evil of the Israeli military forces.
But who cares about the inherent hostility of Machsom Watch to the IDF when it shoots great footage of soldiers caught red-handed "humiliating" a Palestinian violinist? The local media pounced on the tape. In last Friday's papers, the IDF was excoriated for its inhumanity. Novelist Meir Shalev, writing on the cover of Yediot Ahronot's news magazine, likened the scene to images of the Holocaust. Maariv devoted its cover story to eyewitness accounts of reserve soldiers enumerating the human-rights violations they committed during their reserve service. No mention was made by anyone of the fact that a violin case is a pretty good place to hide a bomb or of the fact that the terrorists who conducted the massacre at Sbarro pizzeria in August 2001 hid their bomb in a guitar case.
The incident at the roadblock was investigated by the IDF and the findings, released this week, show that the Palestinian in question was asked to remove his violin from its case by the soldiers and that he began playing his instrument on his own initiative. Indeed, the report reveals that the soldiers had to ask him to stop playing. But what does the truth matter when the image can be used by the Israel-bashing radical Left to "prove" that its narrative, in which Israel is the aggressor and Palestinians are innocent victims, is right and reality is wrong? The inability of Israel's "enlightened" elite, like their counterparts in Europe and the US, to ever see anything right about their own side, and their insistence on refusing to countenance that many aspects of their enemy's culture of hatred are unpardonably evil, extend to all aspects of life.
This week at the Jerusalem Summit conference, Etti Livni, a Member of Knesset from the secular Shinui party and self-proclaimed feminist participated in a panel discussion regarding the persecution of women in Muslim society. Livni stated that in her view, the stories of abuse of Muslim women are similar to tales of abuse of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women. The preposterousness of this claim is boundless. In Egypt, the majority of girls are forced by their fathers to undergo the barbaric procedure of genital mutilation euphemistically referred to as female circumcision. Where does this happen in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities? According to a report released this week by Human Rights Watch, one third of Egyptian women have been beaten by their husbands. In what ultra-Orthodox community are comparable numbers to be found? But admitting that Muslim societies and countries are misogynistic and systematically enslave half their members would make Israel look good by comparison, so it is better to sweep the evil under the rug.
Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum reported this week that a new legend is being propagated in left-wing circles in Europe and the US that the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who have been demonstrating against the patently fraudulent elections results in their country are actually all CIA provocateurs. An article in the UK's Guardian, for instance, alleged that the protests are "an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in Western branding and mass marketing." As Applebaum argues it, the myth is being created to explain away the inconvenient truth that millions of people look to the US as an inspirational beacon of freedom which they wish to emulate. It cannot be, say these reactionary anti-American "progressives," that good people actually like the US and oppose those who share the "enlightened" public's hatred of Uncle Sam. Therefore, anyone advancing a claim that could be viewed as pro-American cannot be an authentic activist. Rather, the CIA must be paying his light bill.
When faced with this sort of opportunistic America- and Israel-bashing we have to ask what exactly these people want. The only rational answer is power. If we can be convinced that they are right and reality is wrong, they will never have to pay a price for all their mendacious notions of Israeli racism and American imperialism. They will never be taken to task for the thousands who have died as a result of their conviction that anyone who fights for the right to be free and unmolested by Third World fascists is by definition a fascist.
The only way to fight these people is to refuse to play by their rules. We must be able to look in the mirror and realize that indeed we are the good guys here. And we must be willing to look at the rotten evil that characterizes the ideology of our enemies and say that defeating them is the mission of our generation.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post where this article was originally published.