TIME Foreign Policy

Kerry Pledges $212M in U.S. Aid to Gaza

A Palestinian man stands atop the rubble of his house as he looks at the ruins of his neighborhood that was badly damaged during the 50-day war between the Hamas militant movement and Israel, in the east of Gaza City on Oct. 12, 2014.
A Palestinian man stands atop the rubble of his house as he looks at the ruins of his neighborhood that was badly damaged during the 50-day war between the Hamas militant movement and Israel, in the east of Gaza City on Oct. 12, 2014. Mohammed Salem—Reuters

The funds will help the region rebuild following a destructive 50-day war this summer

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged $212 million in new aid to help rebuild Gaza after the region accumulated heavy damage during this summer’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

Kerry made the announcement on Sunday as diplomats from more than 40 countries gathered in Cairo to pledge humanitarian aid, the New York Times reports. The U.S. previously provided $118 million in aid to Gaza earlier in 2014.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that approximately one-third of Gaza’s population was displaced by the violence and that the parts of the region are still plagued by blackouts and lack of access to water.

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas has said that Gaza will need $4 billion to rebuild, and Qatar has already promised $1 billion toward that goal. U.S. officials suggest concerns for the region’s stability may hinder aid commitments among donors.

“There is the third time in less than six years that we have seen war break out and Gaza left in rubble,” Kerry said. “As long as there is a possibility that Hamas can fire rockets on Israeli civilians at any time, the people of Gaza will remain at risk of future conflict.”

[NYT]

TIME world affairs

A Serial Israel-Basher Shouldn’t Be Judging the Jewish State

Netherlands World Court Croatia Serbia
Members of the Serbian delegation, from left: Sasa Orbadovic, William Schabas, Andreas Zimmermann, Christian Tams and Wayne Jordash await the start of public hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, March 3, 2014. Jiri Buller—AP

Rabbi Marvin Hier is Dean and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The appointment of William Schabas to head the inquiry mocks the U.S.'s judicial standards

The iconic Lady Justice holding evenly balanced scales reflects a truth that national traditions, the law, and, yes, common decency demand that judges should be above reproach. Mocking this baseline ethical standard, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) selected a notorious anti-Israel zealot—Canadian lawyer William Schabas—to head its latest “verdict first, trial later” inquisition against the Jewish state.

According to the U.S. Code governing judicial conduct, a judge should recuse himself or be disqualified if “his impartiality might be reasonably questioned” for “a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.” That should have led the U.S. to immediately denounce a charade that violates American law and tradition and leaves open the possibility that this flawed international commission’s findings could set legal precedents that not only further demonize our Israeli ally, but could negatively impact Americans defending our nation against terrorists in the future.

Schabas is already on record that when it comes to Israel/Palestine; his primary motivation is “to talk about crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression that have been committed, all of which can be shown to have been perpetrated at various times during the history of the state of Israel.” His fondest hope would be to see Netanyahu “in the dock of an international court.” He’s even called for the prosecution for “war crimes” of Nobel Peace Prize winner, former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

It’s not too late for the U.S. to pull the plug on this travesty. This is why the Simon Wiesenthal Center has urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as well as Attorney General Eric Holder to declare the UNHRC’s new kangaroo court against Israel without legal standing in the U.S., before it perpetrates another “legal” lynching that brazenly mocks our basic judicial standards.

Various U.S. administrations have had their hands full with previous UN-based “inquiries.” The UNHRC, renamed from the Human Rights Commission to the Human Rights Council in 2006, is an organization with a sordid history of invoking the cause of “human rights” while suppressing action against the world’s worst human rights abusers. It casts a blind eye to the inhuman rights records of Saddam’s Iraq, the Assads’ Syria, Bashir’s Sudan, the mullahs’ Iran, the Saudis’ male-only theocracy, China’s Tiananmen tank crew, sadists’ targeting of Tibetan society, the geriatric Castro brothers and late Hugo Chavez’s Latin prison farms.

Why didn’t these outrages find the their way to the UNHRC’s podium? For the simple reason that many of the heads these Orwellian regimes served on the UNHRC, sometimes even chairing it.

The UNHRC has served as a virtual good old boys club controlled by the world’s worst human rights abusers—including Iran, Sudan, China, and Cuba. Their main goals: to protect themselves and their allies from the glare of global spotlight on their human rights abuses; and to assure each other of a whitewashed clean bill of health while piling nonstop one-sided resolutions on Israel condemning the Jewish state—not Hamas terrorists—for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” That first effort culminated in the 2009 Goldstone Report, which sought to degrade Israel’s ability to defend its civilians from non-state terrorists onslaughts. This report also set the stage for more international legal challenges to other democracies struggling against the transitional menace of terrorism. Its contents were so odious that Judge Goldstone ultimately repudiated it, implying he had been duped.

Here is an example of the kind of “guidance” from biased NGOs that the UNHRC relies on in drawing up its indictments against Israel. The International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) characterized Israel as “the largest open-air prison in the world” and accused it of “loose hordes of marauding gangs of Israeli illegal settlers” so as to launch pogroms against Palestinians. In addition, EAFORD charged “the human organs” of “dead, kidnapped and killed Palestinians…can be a source of immense wealth through illegal trafficking in the world market. Israeli physicians, medical centers, rabbis and the Israeli army may to be involved.”

The Bush Administration belatedly disengaged from the UNHRC, but the Obama Administration has eagerly reengaged with it. To paraphrase what has been said of unsuccessful second marriages, the results of Obama’s “smart diplomacy” in the case of the UNHRC has been a triumph of misplaced hope over experienced evildoers.

The threats of another dose of legal demonization of an embattled Jewish state from UN “justice” are clear. We wrote not only to the U.S. Secretary of State but also to the Attorney General of the United States because the UNHRC’s perverted norms of justice threaten to enter the bloodstream of American society and mores. The resulting damage to our legal and societal norms could corrode the foundations upon which the American experiment was founded: freedom and fairness.

Rabbi Marvin Hier is Dean and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME conflict

There’s a Nazi Buried on Mount Zion in Israel — For a Good Reason

Oskar Schindler's Grave
Visitors honor hero Oskar Schindler by placing stones on his grave in Jerusalem Ed Kashi—National Geographic/Getty Images

Oct. 9, 1974: Oskar Schindler, the inspiration for 'Schindler's List,' dies

Oskar Schindler, the real man who inspired Schindler’s List, got off to a less-than-heroic start. Taking advantage of the Nazis’ ouster of a Polish factory’s original owner, a Jew, he exploited the cheap Jewish labor of the Krakow ghetto to turn a massive profit, which he used to fund his playboy lifestyle.

But witnessing the horrors of war changed him, as is explained by Yad Vashem’s profile of the man whose gravestone — after his death 40 years ago today, on Oct. 9, 1974 — would note that he rescued 1,200 Jews. The profits he had once funneled into his own pleasure or used for bribes that advanced his business interests were soon reserved for hiding and feeding hundreds of Jews, forging identification papers for them and bribing Nazi officers into releasing prisoners from concentration camps. The one-time gambler staked his life on the decision, as well as his money; he was arrested twice by the Gestapo but freed with the help of well-connected — and presumably well-paid — friends in the German army, according to his obituary in the New York Times.

He survived the war, but his money did not.

The former war profiteer and onetime Nazi spy who became known as one of history’s greatest humanitarians found himself penniless after World War II, when Soviet troops commandeered the factory where he had made a fortune manufacturing enamelware, then ammunition. A handout from an American Jewish organization helped finance his move to Argentina, where he bred nutria for fur. That venture failed, as did a second enterprise he undertook upon relocating to Germany. There he bought a concrete factory, which went bankrupt, as recounted in the book Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities and the True Story Behind the List.

After Oskar Schindler sacrificed his livelihood to save more than 1,000 Jews from World War II death camps, he came to rely on Jewish charity for his own survival. For much of the rest of his life, Schindler lived meagerly in Frankfurt, in a one-room apartment financed by donations from those around the world who were grateful for his wartime sacrifice.

Even after his death, Schindler was looked after. He was interred in the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem — and is, according to Thomas Keneally, the author of Schindler’s List, the only member of the Nazi Party ever to have been buried there.

Read TIME’s review of Schindler’s List, here in the archives: Heart of Darkness

TIME Israel

Israeli Prime Minister: ISIS and Nuclear Iran Are ‘Twin Challenges’

Barack Obama Meets with PM Netanyahu of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office of the White House on Oct. 1, 2014 in Washington, DC. Olivier Douliery—Corbis

"They all want to get rid of Israel on their way to the Great Satan"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for President Barack Obama’s goal of defeating ISIS but said curbing Iran’s nuclear program is also top priority during a recent interview.

Netanyahu told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in a segment airing Sunday that while ISIS is “growing by day,” its power lies not in its numbers, but in “the strength of terror and fear.” Natanyahu reaffirmed previous remarks to the United Nations that “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas” and said that he would never negotiate with Hamas as long as it “remains committed to [Israel’s] destruction.”

In addition to combatting ISIS, Netanyahu said Israel and other moderate Arab states see Iran’s nuclear program as a “twin” challenge that goes hand-in-hand with stopping the spread of radical Islam.

“They all want to get rid of Israel on their way to the Great Satan,” he said. “We’re just the little Satan. The Great Satan is the United States.”

Netanyahu said the biggest security threat in the Middle East is not border disputes but “what lies on the other side,” saying that militant Islam is “walking into the cracks” of Middle Eastern states and citing Hamas and Hezbollah presence in Gaza and Lebanon, respectively, as examples.

The prime minister said that he trusts Obama “to do what is important for the United States” but that “the jury is out on all of us” to combat these threats.

“We’re going to be tested, all of us,” Netanyahu said. “Ultimately, it’s not what we intended to do, it’s what we end up doing, especially what we end up preventing.”

Netanyahu also reaffirmed his hope for a two-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians after a summer of violent conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas forces in Gaza that saw more than 2,000 Palestinians killed.

“I remain committed to a vision of peace, of two states for two peoples, two nation-states, one for the Palestinian people, one for the Jewish people living in mutual recognition with solid security arrangements on the ground to defend Israel, to keep the peace and to defend Israel in case the peace unravels,” he said.

TIME Israel

Obama, Netanyahu to Meet as Iran Deadline Looms

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the general debate of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept. 29, 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the general debate of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept. 29, 2014. Yin Bogu—Xinhua Press/Corbis

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet for the first time since a rash of civilian casualties during Israel’s summer war with Hamas heightened tensions between two leaders who have long had a prickly relationship.

Much of Wednesday’s Oval Office discussion is expected to focus on another delicate issue: U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran. With a deadline for reaching a final agreement less than two months away, all sides say significant gaps remain.

Netanyahu has long cautioned the U.S. and the international community that Iran is barreling toward a bomb and using diplomatic openings as a stalling tactic. The Islamic republic contends its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The Israeli leader arrives in Washington following meetings at the United Nations, where he delivered a blistering speech accusing Hamas of committing war crimes by using Palestinian civilians as human shields during the 50-day Gaza war that ended Aug. 26. His speech was a response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ assertion that Israel had carried out a “war of genocide” during the Gaza fighting.

Israel launched thousands of airstrikes against what it said were Hamas-linked targets in the dense Gaza Strip, resulting in more than 2,100 Palestinian deaths, the vast majority civilians, according to the United Nations. More than 70 Israelis were also killed.

The civilian death toll in Gaza deeply frustrated U.S. officials and resulted in more biting public condemnations of Israel’s actions than are typical from the Obama administration.

In his speech to the U.N., Netanyahu sought to equate Hamas with the violent Islamic State militants the U.S. is seeking to degrade in Iraq and Syria.

“ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree,” he said, referring to the Islamic State group by one of its acronyms. He added, “When it comes to its ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas.”

Obama and Netanyahu last met in March while the Israelis and Palestinians were still engaged in a U.S.-mediated peace process. The discussions collapsed without a peace accord.

Both Netanyahu and Abbas appear to have abandoned any hope of reviving peace talks, though each is pressing separate diplomatic initiatives. Netanyahu has called for bringing an alliance of moderate Arab states into the peace process, while Abbas has said he’ll appeal to the U.N. Security Council to back Palestinian independence.

TIME Israel

Netanyahu Tells World Leaders ‘Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas’

Prime Minister also refutes Palestinian leader's accusations of "genocide" in Gaza Strip

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back Monday against Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ claims that Israel was waging a “genocide” against Palestinians, and called on world leaders to treat Palestinian militant group Hamas as indistinct from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu refuted claims by Abbas and others that his military had committed war crimes during the 50-day war in the Gaza Strip this summer, citing the lengths to which the Israeli Defense Force went to warn civilians to evacuate targeted areas.

“Israel dropped fliers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic, all to allow civilians to evacuate targeted areas,” Netanyahu said, arguing that Israel took all available precautions to protect civilian lives, while Hamas deliberately fired rockets from areas where children live and play. “Israel was using its missiles to protect its children, Hamas was using children to protect its missiles,” he added.

He said that the fact that Hamas’s deliberate placement of rockets in civilian communities were the “real war crimes.”

The Israeli Prime Minister also spoke about the growing “cancer” of militant Islam, comparing the situation in Israel with that in Iraq and Syria. “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree,” he said. “When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common, all militant Islamists share in common.”

The conflict, which ended in August, left 2,100 Palestinians dead and 73 Israelis dead, according to the BBC. The UN said that most of the Palestinian dead were civilians. “This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment,” Abbas said last week.

Netanyahu said criticism in Europe of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian civilians often amounts to thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. “We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews, we hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis,” he said. “This is not a function of Israel’s policy, this is a function of diseased minds. That disease has a name, it’s called anti-Semitism, and it’s spreading in polite society.”

The president also warned that Iran was undergoing a “manipulative charm offensive” in order to lift sanctions and continue with plans to build a nuclear weapon. “It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks… its another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Then you shouldn’t let the Islamic state of Iran do them either.”

A UN Council tasked with negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program has not made much progress in recent weeks, according to the LA Times. They hope to reach an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program to non-military uses in exchange for lifting oil sanctions.

Netanyahu urged the world’s leaders not to trust what he called the “world’s most dangerous regime.” “To say Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees,” he said.

TIME conflict

Mandatory Palestine: What It Was and Why It Matters

"Mandated territories granted England include: Tanganyika Territory (formerly part of German East Africa), Mesopotamia and Palestine," wrote TIME in a brief news bit in 1923—a fleeting mention of a decision that would change the face of the Middle East as we know it

TIME

The map above is from a 1929 TIME article titled “Islam vs. Israel”—even though, as the map makes clear, in 1929 there was no country called Israel. (On a desktop, roll over to zoom; on a mobile device, click.)

Instead, there was Mandatory Palestine. The idea of a mandatory nation, using the common definition of the word, is an odd one: a country that’s obligatory, something that can’t be missed without fear of consequence. But the entity known as “Mandatory Palestine” existed for more than two decades—and, despite its strange-sounding name, had geopolitical consequences that can still be felt today.

The word “mandatory,” in this case, refers not to necessity but to the fact that a mandate caused it to exist. That document, the British Mandate for Palestine, was drawn up in 1920 and came into effect on this day in 1923, Sept. 29. Issued by the League of Nations, the Mandate formalized British rule over parts of the Levant (the region that comprises countries to the east of the Mediterranean), as part of the League’s goal of administrating the region’s formerly Ottoman nations “until such time as they are able to stand alone.” The Mandate also gave Britain the responsibility for creating a Jewish national homeland in the region.

The Mandate did not itself redraw borders—following the end of World War I, the European and regional powers had divvied up the former Ottoman Empire, with Britain acquiring what were then known as Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and Palestine (modern day Israel, Palestine and Jordan)—nor did it by any means prompt the drive to build a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionism, the movement to create a Jewish homeland, had emerged in the late 19th century, though it wasn’t exclusively focused on a homeland in Palestine. (Uganda was one of several alternatives proposed over the years.) In 1917, years before the Mandate was issued, the British government had formalized its support for a Jewish state in a public letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour known as the Balfour Declaration.

But by endorsing British control of the region with specific conditions, the League of Nations did help lay the groundwork for the modern Jewish state—and for the tensions between Jews and Arabs in the region that would persist for decades more. Though Israel would not exist for years to come, Jewish migrants flowed from Europe to Mandatory Palestine and formal Jewish institutions began to take shape amid a sometimes violent push to finalize the creation of a Jewish state. Meanwhile, the growing Jewish population exacerbated tensions with the Arab community and fueled conflicting Arab nationalist movements.

TIME reported on some of the tensions in the 1929 article from which the map above is drawn:

The fighting that began between Jews and Arabs at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall (TIME, Aug. 26) spread last week throughout Palestine, then inflamed fierce tribesmen of the Moslem countries which face the Holy Land (see map)…

…Sporadic clashes continuing at Haifa, Hebron and in Jerusalem itself, rolled up an estimated total of 196 dead for all Palestine. A known total of 305 wounded lay in hospitals. Speeding from England in a battleship the British High Commissioner to Palestine, handsome, brusque Sir John Chancellor, landed at Haifa, hurried to Jerusalem and sought to calm the general alarm by announcing that His Majesty’s Government were rushing more troops by sea from Malta and by land from Egypt, would soon control the situation

The clashes in Mandatory Palestine, which at times targeted the British or forced British intervention, began to take a toll on U.K. support for the Mandate. As early as 1929, some newspapers were declaring “Let Us Get Out of Palestine,” as TIME reported in the article on Jewish-Arab tensions. Though the Mandate persisted through World War II, support in war-weary Britain withered further. The U.K. granted Jordan independence in 1946 and declared that it would terminate its Mandate in Palestine on May 14, 1948. It left the “Question of Palestine” to the newly formed United Nations, which drafted a Plan of Partition that was approved by the U.N. General Assembly—but rejected by most of the Arab world—on Nov. 27, 1947.

As the day of May 14 came to an end, so did Mandatory Palestine. The region was far from settled, but the Mandate did accomplish at least one of its stated goals. Mere hours earlier, a new document had been issued: the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

Read a 1930 cover story about the Zionist movement during the period of Mandatory Palestine: Religion: Zionists

TIME Israel

LIVE: Israel’s Netanyahu Speaks at United Nations General Assembly

Prime minister is likely to address Palestinian leader's claim that Israel committed "war crimes" during Gaza conflict

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, having vowed to refute “all of the lies” in a speech by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas last week. Abbas said Israel had committed “a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world” during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.

TIME Gaza

The Hardest First Day: Gaza Kids Return to School

Watch as two teenagers brought TIME along on their first day of school after seven weeks of war

About half a million Gaza children returned to school two weeks ago, after a summer of war. But the restart has faced many challenges including supply shortages, limited facilities and widespread trauma among students and faculty alike, according to a UN report.

As teachers read attendance sheets on the opening day last week, their roll call also served as an account of the dead. 500 children were killed in Gaza during the 50 days of fighting, according to UN figures.

“Many of our friends were not in school,” Khetam Kafarna, a 17 year-old shelter resident, said after her first day of classes in Beit Hanoun. “Some have moved. Some of the girls died. Now we are all strangers to each other.”

The summer months brought seven weeks of fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza – over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, and over 100,000 Gazans were left homeless. Seventy-one Israelis were also killed in the fighting, 66 of them soldiers.

During the bloody summer months, schools in Gaza became a focal point of the violence and destruction throughout the region. Twenty-two schools were completely destroyed during the conflict and at least 118 more damaged. Gaza’s schools—already stressed before the war, with classes running in double shifts as a result of school shortages—are now facing acute overcrowding, the UN said.

In southern Israel, where local children were subject to frequent scares from rocket sirens throughout the summer, classes started on time but with a changed curriculum that would include activities to provide emotional support to students, according to the Israeli Education Ministry.

The bombing of school-shelters has become one of the most controversial aspects of the entire conflict. Israel said in at least some of these cases that they were responding to nearby rocket fire or targeting militants in the area. The military is reviewing some of the incidents. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said that Hamas used “schools, residential buildings, mosques and hospitals to fire rockets at Israeli civilians.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) “unreservedly condemned” the attacks and has also called for investigations. In three cases, however, UNRWA did discover and publicly condemn the use of its Gaza facilities by militants to store rockets.

Meanwhile, students in Gaza returned after a three-week delay to find schoolhouses with walls bombed to rubble, chalkboards ripped apart by artillery shells and the remains of books and school supplies littered in charred piles.

There are many wounds to heal. Children in Gaza have experienced three wars between Israel and Hamas in just the past six years. At the UNRWA schools, which serve 241,000 students across Gaza, the first week was completely devoted to psycho-social counseling and support. Students participate in supervised activities like drawing and storytelling, and are monitored for further therapeutic needs.

“It’s important that we continue to move forward, and to bring back a sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Iyad Zaqout, who manages the UNRWA community mental health program in Gaza. “This is the best way that we can overcome the scars of war.”

On opening day last week in the courtyard of one UNRWA school in Gaza City, hundreds of girls gathered in matching pinstriped dresses and jeans. They danced and giggled and held hands and sang. But pupils and teachers around Gaza have also found themselves at a loss for space for classes. Over 90 UNRWA schools were converted into shelters during the war, housing up to 290,000 people displaced by the violence.

In one school-turned-shelter in Gaza City, dozens of temporary residents gathered with brooms and rags in the courtyard of to help clean the well-worn facility. Other residents complained of a lack of water in the shelters. There are still over 50,000 Gazans sheltered in UNRWA schools throughout the territory, the agency said. Across Gaza, colorful laundry still draped the light blue railings of UN schools, and old desks had been stacked with curtains used to turn classrooms into cavernous homes reminiscent of childhood fortresses. Families slept out on the open-air walkways at night to keep cool.

Alaa Eliwa, an 8th grader from the Shaaf area east of Gaza City, lost her home and all of her belongings in an airstrike. She had been living for weeks with her family on the barren 3rd floor of a UN school building in Gaza City. Eliwa said she was excited to start school, counting drawing, reading and writing among her hobbies. Alaa had risen before dawn on Sept. 19 to travel across the city, where she would start classes in another UN school building.

“It’s also good that we can leave these classrooms where we live, instead of staying here all day long,” she said. “School provides us with some change.”

TIME foreign affairs

Dear Fellow Liberals: I’m Done Apologizing for Israel

Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Overview of a tunnel built underground by Hamas militants leading from the Gaza Strip into Southern Israel, seen on August 4, 2014 near the Israeli Gaza border, Israel. Ilia Yefimovich—Getty Images

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

As a species, we don't seem to cotton to facts—especially when it comes to Jews

Some years ago, I was seated at dinner next to a British law professor, whom my husband, also a law professor, had invited to a conference that he’d organized. The conversation soon turned, as conversation often does among professional intellectuals, to Israel, specifically to the then-recent conflict between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in the West Bank town of Jenin, which my dinner partner (and much of the European press) referred to as the “massacre of Jenin.”

Oops—forgot about it already? Here’s a refresher: in 2002, the IDF went into Jenin during the Second Intifada, after Israel determined that the town served as a launching pad for missile and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. The 10-day operation claimed the lives of around 50 Palestinian gunmen, and 23 Israeli soldiers. My acquaintance, after repeating Palestinian claims of atrocities committed by Israeli forces—claims that had already been roundly debunked—capped off his assessment by saying, “What happened in Jenin was no more and no less than another Holocaust.”

Really?

As a liberal American Jew, I’m tired of apologizing for Israel’s actions regarding its own security, and as of last month, I’m done with it. I’m done for the following two reasons: my eldest child, Sam, motivated by a desire to do something more meaningful than argue about religion, policy and politics, is currently serving as a lone soldier in the IDF, and he spent much of July in Gaza, as part of a team dismantling terror tunnels. In New Jersey, where the rest of his family lives, we didn’t know, from one day to the next, if we’d ever see him again. The second reason is that Israel, despite its highly imperfect record (unlike that of, say, America or France or England or Pakistan or Kenya or Argentina…) is the world’s sole guarantee against another frenzy of murderous hatred against my people, a hatred that is once again raising its voice, and fists, not only among the dispossessed Muslim residents of Europe, but, most especially, in the official organs of the chattering, and highly influential, classes—so much so that the off-hand remarks of my long-ago dinner companion seem almost reasonable.

Facts are such nifty things, so solid, so sure. Yet we as a species don’t seem to cotton to them, especially when it comes to Jews.

In Pakistan, one human rights group estimates that 1,000 women are murdered in honor killings by their families every year. In Nigeria, Islamic militants have killed more than 1,500 people in 2014, according to Amnesty International. And the death toll from the slaughter in Syria—just spitting distance from Israel—adds up to a robust 191,000. But the world—or at least the world as personified by the British law professor with his fondness for exaggeration—doesn’t pay a lot of attention to these Muslim but non-Palestinian corpses. Nope: you’ve got to be a dead person in Gaza or Hebron to claim the world’s sympathy. Merely being an Arab, or a Muslim, doesn’t cut the mustard, because when Muslims are murdering other Muslims—like more than 2,400 Iraqis killed by other Iraqis in June of this year. The civilized world, or at least the chattering classes, does little more than shrug.

Instead, from the Telegram we get this “Gaza conflict ‘causing PTSD in children’ after seeing dead bodies and witnessing heavy shelling.” From the Times: “UN demands halt to Gaza incursion as tanks smash hospital.” A simple Google search will net you hundreds of like-minded headlines. By the way, guess how many citizens were killed during the second half of last year in Egypt? According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: 3,143.

But it’s more satisfying to focus on Israel, that miniscule sliver of desert with an equally miniscule population (some 6 million Jews and 1.7 million primarily Muslim Arabs), hemmed in on one side by hostile Arab countries whose Muslim populations add up to a healthy 320 million, give or take, and the other by the Mediterranean Sea. Because Israel isn’t just any other imperfect Democracy, with a host of domestic and international problems of its own. Oh no. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re talking a whole country filled primarily with Jews. So the whole place is only as big as the State of New Jersey, while the rest of the Middle East is about the size of 90 percent of the contiguous United States? So what?

Why is it so hard for the world to wake up to its blindness and see that once again it’s easier to focus on the moral shortcomings, real or imagined, of Jews, than to grapple with actual slaughter? From the point of view of the Muslim nations, I get it: let Israel take the heat for the crappy conditions and even worse governance under which vast numbers of Muslims live. Easier to blame Jews than to run your own country with a modicum of basic human decency.

I’m not suggesting that Muslim lives are worth less than Jewish ones. Nor that the mainly Arab occupants of Gaza and the West Bank don’t have legitimate grievances, including—especially—the deaths, mainly from aerial bombing, of citizens. Merely that the magnitude of Palestinian loss, when looked at through the lens of numbers alone, pales compared to that suffered by their co-religionists.

Put another way: what if Israel were a self-professed Maronite country? A country of mainly secular Protestants and lapsed Catholics—or a majority-Arab democracy? Would anyone give a rat’s ass if it used armed force against a terrorist group whose raison d’etre is the destruction of their country and the murder of its citizens?

It’s not just in left-leaning Europe that the anti-Jewish rhetoric is getting louder. Here in America, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), calling for self-determination of Palestinians while denying the right to self-determination for Jews, has offshoots on more than eighty campuses. And in New Haven, here’s what The Rev. Bruce M. Shipman, the (recently resigned) Episcopal chaplain at Yale University, wrote in a letter to the editor that was recently published in The New York Times: “As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.” In other words, recent anti-Semitic violence in Europe, notably Paris, is the fault of Jewish moral failings. In other words: Jews deserve it. And what, after all, did the Jewish State of Israel do? It went after the terror tunnels. It said no to the bombing of its civilians. It said that they meant it when they said “never again.”

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

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