What is truly “indefensible”

Rachel Bandler,

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Rachel Bandler
Rachel Bandler is currently an MD/PhD student at the NYU School of Medicine. In 2013 she graduated from MIT, having studied Chemistry, Biology, and Political Science. During that time she served as President of the pro-Israel student group MIT Students for Israel (MITSI). At MIT, Rachel also served as a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, CAMERA Fellow, AIPAC campus liaison, and wrote as a staff opinion columnist for the MIT newspaper, The Tech. In addition to The Tech, she has also published articles about Israel in The Jerusalem Post and The Scarsdale Daily Voice....

Today, the White House released a press statement saying it was “appalled” by Israel's “disgraceful” shelling of a United Nations school, continuing a theme from last week when Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Israeli army shelling of a UN school in Gaza was “totally indefensible.”

Well, I’m here to defend the “indefensible”, because both statements were a rush to judgment made from the comfort and safety of the White House, without knowing the facts on the ground.

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, the media has been obsessed with asking if Israel has been doing enough to minimize Palestinian casualties, and quick to condemn the IDF for any attack in Gaza with shaky evidence at best.

But as Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer so eloquently said in an interview last week about the shelled UN school, “No one knows the facts… you don’t know if we had 50 soldiers in the line of fire, and our soldiers were responding to people who were targeting them and maybe saved a lot of soldiers lives in the process…never say an action is indefensible unless you know all the facts.”

Frankly, the White House has no idea what is happening on the battlefield, and the fact that they condemn the IDF while clueless as to the situation on the ground is defamatory and perhaps actionable at law. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Let’s think back to the recent allegations that an Israeli drone was responsible for the shelling of a Gazan hospital. As it turns out, that shelling was in fact the result of a Hamas rocket that fell short on its own human shields.

We cannot sacrifice our own soldiers’ safety – many of them teenagers -- in an attempt to appease international “moral” pressure, especially in a country like Israel where everyone is a citizen-soldier. It is a tragedy when any innocent person is killed, but what is truly immoral is paying for Hamas’ crimes with the blood of our innocent boys. Israel's first and foremost obligation is to protect her own children, as our Rabbis teach in Pirkei Avot: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”

Many of us abroad wish we could do more to help Israel in this difficult time. Here is one way we can all make a difference. Every supporter of Israel can write to a US media outlet of his or her choice to demand a higher standard of journalism whenever there is a rush to condemn Israel. Here is a link provided by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) through which to contact various media stations to provide feedback on their reporting.

One important question to ask is why the media has remained eerily silent about the number of rockets that Hamas fires into Israel on a daily basis, and instead treats Israel’s actions in Gaza as unilateral and happening in a vacuum?

To me, biased reporting is “indefensible”.