Because It Was The Right Thing To Do

Bill Kristol reflects on “one of the greatest friends of the Jewish people”:

…He wasn’t my favorite among Republicans in 2000. He has made mistakes as president, and has limitations as a leader. But he has exercised his just and rightful authority in a way — I believe — that deserves recognition and respect.

It will probably be a while before he gets much of either. In synagogue, right after the prayer for our country, there is a prayer for the state of Israel, asking the “rock and redeemer of the people Israel” to “spread over it the shelter of your peace.” As we recited this on Saturday, I couldn’t help but reflect that a distressingly small number of my fellow Jews seem to have given much thought at all to the fact that President Bush is one of the greatest friends the state of Israel — and, yes, the Jewish people — have had in quite a while. Bush stood with Israel when he had no political incentive to do so and received no political benefit from doing so. He was criticized by much of the world. He did it because he thought it the right thing to do.

He has been denounced for this, as Israel has been denounced for doing what it judged necessary to defend itself. The liberal sage Bill Moyers has been a harsh critic of Bush. On Jan. 9, on PBS, he also lambasted Israel for what he called its “state terrorism,” its “waging war on an entire population” in Gaza. He traced this Israeli policy back to the Bible, where “God-soaked violence became genetically coded,” apparently in both Arabs and Jews. I wouldn’t presume to say what is and isn’t “genetically coded” in Moyers’s respectable Protestant genes. But I’m glad it was George W. Bush calling the shots over the last eight years, not someone well-thought of by Moyers.

Many of Bush’s defenders have praised him for keeping the country safe since Sept. 11, 2001. He deserves that praise, and I’m perfectly happy to defend most of his surveillance, interrogation and counterterrorism policies against his critics.

But I don’t think keeping us safe has been Bush’s most impressive achievement. That was winning the war in Iraq, and in particular, his refusal to accept defeat when so many counseled him to do so in late 2006. His ordering the surge of troops to Iraq in January 2007 was an act of personal courage and of presidential leadership. The results have benefited both Iraq and the United States. And the outcome in Iraq is a remarkable gift to the incoming president, who now only has to sustain success, rather than trying to deal with the consequences in the region and around the world of a humiliating withdrawal and a devastating defeat…

I can’t think of too many politicians in my lifetime who have adopted policies despite having “no political incentive to do so” and receiving “no political benefit from doing so.” And Kristol is right: I can’t think of too many of my fellow Jews who have given much thought to that fact.

British writer Melanie Phillips, on the other hand, reminds us who is not a friend of the Jewish people:

… according to the Community Security Trust, Anglo-Jewry is in the middle of the worst outbreak of Jew-hatred since records began a quarter of a century ago, with more than 150 incidents across the country recorded since the beginning of the Gaza war — has erupted in Britain as a direct result of the British media and political class giving the impression that the Israelis are deliberate child-killers. Both politicians and journalists have accepted at face value the Hamas claim that the dead in Gaza were mainly civilians, whereas the Israelis maintain that the vast majority were terrorist operatives. The British elites have accepted all claims of Israeli atrocities as well-founded, even though as far as I can see there is not a shred of evidence for any of them. They have also treated the word of the UN as objective holy writ, even though there are serious grounds for suspecting that the UN are the patsies of Hamas. For example, the UN has been screaming that Israel committed a ‘war crime’ when it shelled its Gaza HQ last Thursday; few in Britain know that Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert, no less, told UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon that the IDF returned fire after terrorists inside the compound fired anti-tank weapons and machine guns during the humanitarian daily pause:

‘We don’t want this event to happen again,’ he told Ban, ‘and I don’t know if you know, but Hamas attacked from within the UNRWA compound during the humanitarian cease-fire.’

What is so terribly shocking is that in the face of this unprecedented wave of hatred and bigotry, Britain’s senior politicians have been all but silent. They have a duty not merely to condemn the anti-Jewish violence but also to condemn the blood libels about Israel that have been inciting it. Instead, ministers such as International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander have breathed upon the flames by condemning Israel’s behaviour as ‘disproportionate’ and regurgitating as fact the distorted propaganda of Hamas and its patsy, the UN, about the number of civilian casualties…

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