A terrorist group targets Israeli civilians with suicide bombings and rockets aimed at civilian centers and the world offers a collective yawn. But when Israel responds forcefully, seeking to neuter Hamas' ability to kill, "a tidal wave of indignation" results.
King's College professor Efraim Karsh wonders why this happens in this article for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Answering his own question, Karsh blames anti-Semitism.
It can't be simply a concern over civilian deaths, he argues. Conflicts in Darfur, Congo and Chechnya have led to exponentially greater civilian casualties, yet:
"None of these tragedies saw protesters flock into the streets of London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Oslo, Dublin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Washington, and Fort Lauderdale (to give a brief list), as has been the case during the Gaza crisis."
He notes that no movement toward Palestinian statehood occurred in the 19 years Egypt and Jordan controlled the West Bank and Gaza and that some Arab regimes have treated Palestinians far worse than this. But Israeli action invariably sparks a reflexive outcry including "despicable comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa" that Karsh argues are rooted in anti-Jewish sentiment:
"Put differently, the Palestinians are but the latest lightning rod unleashed against the Jews, their supposed victimization reaffirming the millenarian demonization of the Jews in general, and the medieval blood libel - that Jews delight in the blood of others - in particular."
It's a provocative essay. Clearly it does not speak to all critics of the Israeli response, including those who express concern that the move could backfire and create more harm than good. But Karsh does have a point in his basic equation – terrorist actions draw light rebukes and a global shrug. Efforts to impede the terrorists' ability to act are treated as unforgivable forms of aggression.