Israel has a right to defend itself, and it's doing exactly what our country would do if Iranian-made rockets came down on Wisconsin or Iowa or Minnesota. ... We would go to the country from which they were being fired and we would do whatever was necessary to protect our country.I think we can all agree that Israel has a right to defend itself from missile attacks and unwarranted siezures of its citizens and soldiers. We can also agree that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that is bent on destroying Israel. But is it possible to agree on these points and still argue that in responding in the way they have, with attacks that have destroyed Lebanon's infrastructure and that have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, that Israel has crossed both a moral boundary and a strategic one as well.
In terms of strategy, killing civilians hurts the cause. It makes enemies and terrorists out of people who might have been allies and friends. We are already hearing numerous reports of how Israel's actions are turning moderate Arabs against them.
Regarding the moral boundary, one of the marks of a democracy that holds human life and human rights in the highest regard ought to be the care it takes in showing restraint, working for peace, giving diplomacy every last chance to succeed.
Israel ought to act better than its enemies, just as America ought to as well. They, the "enemies," may show no regard for human life, but we will. They may hate us and seek to destroy us but we will not do the same in return. They may attack innocent civilians, but we will not. Because we are not like them. And we want the world to see us differently, and to respect us and emulate us. Israel risks becoming what they hate.
But this post isn't really about Israel. It is about pandering politicians who fear raising these kinds of issues with a friend and ally. For too many years now in Washington there have been far too many politicians who reflexively back the nation of Israel no matter what they do. Mostly it has been Democrats. Recently they have been joined by Republicans who depend on votes from the religious right. Most disturbingly in this last flare up, it has been our President who has winked and nodded and encouraged Israel to take as long as it takes, no matter what the cost to their, or our, integrity and moral standing in the world.
Friends don't let friends drive drunk. Friends don't let their allies hurt themselves and everyone else. True friends are true and friends because they offer their love and support while at the same time speaking the truth. We are not true friends of Israel when we don't use our power and influence with them to urge caution and restraint, and use our common shared values to remind them to live by a higher calling, and use our diplomatic skills to work to quicky diffuse the crisis.
As I said, Kennedy's response is no surprise. But I expect more thought and more courage from Amy Klobuchar.