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Airlines Halt Flights: Should We Blame the Messenger?

By David Rubin
7/23/2014, 2:07 PM

The blame game over the sudden halt of foreign flights to Israel is certainly one of the more interesting chapters in the ongoing Gaza story. There are those who are blaming the Americans for using the rocket attack on the town of Yehud near Ben Gurion International Airport as a pretext to pressure Israel to agree to a ceasefire. Indeed, Secretary of State John Kerry's arrival in Israel with that stated purpose in mind seems to give credence to the charge of an inappropriate use of economic pressure to achieve a political goal.

Having said all that, those of us who believe that the Obama administration has generally been economically supportive, but politically hostile to Israel, should avoid the blame-game on this issue. The sad truth is that for five years, Israel's political leadership irresponsibly ignored the hornet's nest that is called Gaza, hoping that peace negotiations with Fatah - our supposed partners in peace - would somehow be successful and that meanwhile, the rockets wouldn't cause us any serious damage. Well, it didn't work. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, and even some from Fatah, continued to build up their rocket launching capabilities, until we have arrived at the present state of affairs, in which the rockets can reach the greater Tel Aviv area, including the airport.

Should we be surprised that the American aviators and others are genuinely nervous about the safety of their passengers? After the recent downing of the Malaysian plane over the Ukraine, such concerns are not unwarranted. However, to blame the White House is an inappropriate use of the Freudian defense mechanism called "projection", in which we ascribe our faults to others. The fact is, that Israel's political leadership cannot avoid responsibility for allowing the security situation to get to this point. Now that doesn't mean that the folks in Washington are not culpable in any way. Obama, Clinton, and Kerry have spent much of the last five years pressuring Israel not to retaliate against its enemies - not Hamas, not Islamic Jihad, not Hezbollah, and not Iran.

The potential harm to the economy of such a halt to air travel can't be ignored, but all is not lost. By making war - and this time fighting to win - against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, we have the potential to finally put an end to the rocket attacks that are threatening Israel's economy, as well as directly hurting its citizens.

It behooves our political leadership to go forward with a broad and bold vision to the future. Our international relations can be greatly improved, not by giving in to foreign pressure, but by standing firm in defense of our national security interests, in defense of our economy, and in defense of our citizens. Those interests will be served by giving the IDF a green light to continue its valiant efforts in defense of the homeland.