Rep. Keith Ellison has written a letter to President Obama urging him to use diplomatic pressure to end Israel’s blockade of Gaza. 50 members of the House have signed the letter, including Ellison’s fellow Minnesotans Betty McCollum and James Oberstar.
The letter pays lip service to the security needs of Southern Israel, which had been subject to repeated attacks from Gaza — attacks which, to my knowledge, never prompted Ellison or his fellow leftists to write letters.
Ellison and his colleagues state:
We also sympathize deeply with the people of southern Israel who have suffered from abhorrent rocket and mortar attacks. We recognize that the Israeli government has imposed restrictions on Gaza out of a legitimate and keenly felt fear of continued terrorist action by Hamas and other militant groups. This concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. Truly, fulfilling the needs of civilians in Israel and Gaza are mutually reinforcing goals.
The first part of this passage is disingenuous and the last sentence is nonsense. The blockade is intended to prevent weapons and advanced electronic equipment from coming into Gaza. Israel permits humanitarian aid and medical supplies to enter. As Leo Rennert of the American Thinker points out:
Israel sends about 100 truckloads daily into Gaza, carrying food, medicines and other basic necessities. Plus it provides sufficient diesel fuel to meet Gaza’s needs. Plus it has admitted hundreds of injured and sick Gazans into Israel where they receive the same dedicated, advanced medical care that Haitians receive in Israel’s field hospital at Port-au-Prince.
In other words, Israel is striking a balance between its security concerns (which even Ellison says are legitimate) and the basic needs of Gazans. Ellison and the others also purport to strike that balance, but they fail to explain how Israel’s security concerns would be met in the absence of the blockade.
The best they can do is to assert that “lifting these restrictions will give civilians in Gaza a tangible sense that diplomacy can be an effective tool for bettering their conditions.” But there is no reason to believe that a “tangible sense that diplomacy can help Gazans better their conditions” will protect Southern Israel from attack. If Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza did not dissuade such attacks, Israel has no sound basis to believe that lifting the blockade will do the trick.
Lifting the blockade would, instead, lead to new demands by Israel’s enemies and their supporters, including Ellison. This of course is what Ellison has in mind when he speaks of persuading Gazans of the utility of “diplomacy.”
Unfortunately, the Gazans who threaten Israel’s security believe in the utility of armed struggle, and this belief has nothing to do with the presence or absence of a blockade. That is why Israel should maintain the blockade.