President Obama continued a pattern of declaring deceitful formal support of Israel while throwing coded support for Palestinians to the Democratic base, which is, disgracefully, largely siding with the anti-Israel forces in Europe. His reluctance to commit the moral weight of his office against the conduct of Hamas and behind Israel was embarrassingly clear when he said, “I also think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately siting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy.” Intentionally placing its own citizens, including children, in harm’s way to maximize photo-ready casualties that can turn world opinion against Israel is not “irresponsible.” The President trying to play both ends against the middle in the Gaza crisis is irresponsible. Using Gazans as human shields when Hamas forces Israel to respond militarily to missiles and tunnels is indistinguishable from evil, and the President, were he responsible, would say so unequivocally. Instead, he resorts to weasel words, equivocations. Surely, this President extolled for his eloquence knows the meaning of the words he uses.
Then, this week, Obama gave us this:
“I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.”
Godwin’s Law be damned: a Nazi Germany analogy is instructive here.
Ordinary German citizens elected Hitler’s party to power; ordinary German people stood by while he set in motion horrific events, and ordinary German people suffered terribly when the tide of war turned against Nazi Germany. Abby Mann’s superb stage adaptation of his screenplay and teleplay for “Judgment at Nuremberg” (my theater company recently produced the play, and damn well) presented both the claim of German citizens after the war that their leaders, but certainly not the people who put them in power, deserved condemnation for war crimes, and the rebuttal for that claim. Hitler couldn’t have murdered six million Jews without the knowledge and support of the German people, and Hamas couldn’t continue its deadly, indeed insane and terroristic, policies without the support of the “ordinary people,” who may be “struggling within Gaza,” but they also elected Hamas to lead them, knowing it was committed to exterminating Israel.
They allowed and tacitly approved of Hamas diverting resources intended to build the region into arms and tunnels. Even now, polls show that 80% of the Gazan public supports Hamas. I listened to a kind, gentle NPR report on Gaza that was dripping with implied criticism of Israel, but ended with the jaw-dropping admission that the Gazans, including the terrified Palestinian parents interviewed in the program, didn’t want the conflict to end “without Gaza winning something.”
The ordinary people of Gaza are exactly as complicit in Hamas’s conduct and the consequences of it as the German people were complicit in the crimes of the Third Reich.
1. feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
“they had great sympathy for the flood victims”
synonyms: compassion, caring, concern, solicitude, empathy; More
commiseration, pity, condolence, comfort, solace, support, encouragement;
2. understanding between people; common feeling.
“the special sympathy between the two boys was obvious to all”
synonyms: rapport, fellow feeling, affinity, empathy, harmony, accord, compatibility
Which definition of “sympathy” is appropriate for the President of the United States to apply to the “ordinary people‘ of Gaza that put Hamas in power and supports its actions now, actions that are killing their own children?
Neither of them.