Well, this should notch a chink in the “Israeli is always the victim” defense.
However, an incident occured last week at a crossing into the Gaza Strip that gave a very different impression to a senior observer. When Senator John Kerry visited the Strip, he learned that many trucks loaded with pasta were not permitted in. When the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee inquired as to the reason for the delay, he was told by United Nations aid officials that “Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid – only rice shipments.”
Kerry asked Barak about the logic behind this restriction, and only after the senior U.S. official’s intervention did the defense minister allow the pasta into the Strip. The U.S. senator updated colleagues at the Senate and other senior officials in Washington of the details of his visit.
The issue of humanitarian aid is central to a major debate between Israel’s foreign and defense ministries. The former supports broadening the amount and types of aid, while the defense ministry opposes anything it considers “concessions” to Hamas.
This is insanity. It’s really hard to overstate the degree to which Israeli policy directly fuels animosity among the Palestinian population. Of course, the relationship is reciprocal, but it seems to me that it’s hard to don the mantle of moral superiority while choking an entire civilian population of access to humanitarian aid. As Matt Yglesias notes, it says something about the current state of affairs that the international community hasn’t strongly denounced the tactic. Moreover, it illustrates an almost absurd tone-deafness to decry terrorism for targeting civilians and simultaneously employ tactics that to a very large degree target the exact same demographic. It certainly doesn’t bode well for prospects of peace.
As a Jew, it’s downright embarassing.