July 23, 2014
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“The success of Hamas in closing Israeli airspace is a great victory for the resistance, and is the crown of Israel’s failure,” a Hamas spokesman said today.
When Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, the United States became the first country in the world to recognize the Jewish state, just 11 minutes later. That recognition, however, came after one of the greatest foreign policy disputes in American history—a fight in which Secretary of State George C. Marshall told President Truman that “if the President were to [recognize Israel] and if in the elections I were to vote, I would vote against the President.”
This was an astonishing rebuke coming from any cabinet officer, and more so coming from Marshall—a popular figure who as Chief of Staff of the Army during World War II had helped win the war—and directed at Truman, one of the least popular presidents in recent history. But Truman was still the president, and he had the wisdom to forge with Israel what has become one of our country’s closest friendships.
Later, when Syria and Egypt invaded Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, President Nixon airlifted heavy arms and supplies to help Israel defend itself.
Contrast those strong actions with President Obama’s response to the current crisis threatening our ally.
The President’s FAA-imposed ban on flights into Ben Gurion International Airport is the most hostile step any American president has taken toward Israel in its entire existence. The restriction deals a major psychological blow to our friends, prevents Israelis across the world from returning home, stops tourists and others from leaving, and creates a major disruption to the country’s economy its tourism industry especially.
Even worse, it hands an extraordinary victory to Hamas, a terrorist organization that also happens to be the government in Gaza.
The decision can only be interpreted as a willful attack by the United States and one of its closest allies at a time of great crisis. It was clearly deliberate. If the restriction had been an accident—an unfortunate mistake by some bumbling bureaucrat at the FAA— the President could simply have reversed it when he found out about it.
Given the circumstances, it is impossible to believe the cessation of flights was not a deliberate act on the part of the Obama administration to undermine Israel and bully it into accepting the “ceasefire” President Obama and Secretary Kerry desperately want.
The Israelis maintain that their airport is safe. Their own airline, El Al, continues to fly. They have demonstrated with impressive accuracy the ability of their Iron Dome missile defense shield to protect Tel Aviv from Hamas rockets. Except for a single rocket discovered about a mile from the airport, there is no evidence to support the FAA’s decision.
That’s the same FAA that allows flights into Baghdad. That allows flights into Kabul. Into Peshawar and Kandahar. It allows flights, for that matter, into Kiev. These are all places where the FAA might apply the same logic as it did in Tel Aviv—there are bad people in the neighborhood who sometimes do bad things.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stood bravely against the administration’s bullying tactics when he released a statement last night announcing:
Mike Bloomberg is exactly right about the effects of the administration’s decision, which is even more damaging in the context of the American government’s latest pronouncements. All week Secretary Kerry and President Obama have been pressuring Israel to accept a ceasefire against an enemy that is actively trying to kill Israelis. They warn Israel that the United States is “deeply concerned” about civilian casualties in Gaza.
Indeed, everyone is worried about civilian casualties. Everyone except Hamas.
Have Obama and Kerry forgotten how the current violence started?
It started with Palestinian terrorists firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians.
It continued with the discovery of hidden tunnels—dozens of them—which Hamas has dug into Israel with the intention, apparently, of launching an invasion of terrorists into Israel to kidnap Israelis and drag them back through the tunnels into Gaza.
A few militants who made it through the tunnels were found to be carrying tranquilizers and handcuffs. Today Israel discovered a tunnel filled with a trove of Israeli Defense Force uniforms in which the terrorists were evidently planning to disguise themselves.
This is the stuff of nightmares. And in the middle of Israel’s campaign to stop such atrocities, Obama and Kerry are criticizing Israel for causing civilian casualties? They’re handing a victory, with the flight cancellations, to Hamas, which hides its weapons and its militants in civilian homes to use women and children as human shields. It is an act of enormous cowardice.
President Obama should immediately reverse the FAA’s ban on flights into Ben Gurion International Airport and should apologize to Israel for the mistake. And Congress should hold hearings on the decision process to determine for certain if this was a deliberate political attack by the Obama White House on America’s ally.