"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" is one of the worst clichés in the English language. Unfortunately the phrase's logic is applied all too often to the ongoing violence at the Israel-Gaza Strip border. Just look at Peter Beinart's recent column on the riots there. "Why are thousands of Palestinians risking their lives by running toward the Israeli snipers who guard the fence that encloses Gaza?" asks Beinart. "Because Gaza is becoming uninhabitable." And why is the Strip becoming uninhabitable? Because Israel is "denying Gaza's people the water, electricity, education, and food they need to live decent lives."
According to Beinart, the ongoing attempts to damage and breach the border security fence to attack Israel, the rocks and firebombs hurled and shots fired at Israeli soldiers, the firebomb-bearing kites that torment Israeli farmers trying to grow crops, the widespread presence ofswastikas at the demonstrations, the anti-Semitic threats against Jews, the horrible ecologicaleffects caused by burning tires to blind Israeli border guards—all actions carried out by Gazans—are reactions of victims motivated by resistance against their oppressors. The fact that most of the rioters who Israelis have killed were terrorist operatives, or individuals affiliated with terrorist organizations, is irrelevant, because it gets in the way of this narrative.
"Hamas is indeed a brutal and destructive force, to both Israelis and Palestinians," acknowledges Beinart. "But Hamas did not force Israel to adopt the policies that have devastated Gaza. Those policies represent a choice—a choice that has not only failed to dislodge Hamas, but has also created the very conditions in which extremism thrives."