Israel’s interception of the flotilla attempting to break the Gaza blockade has been the focus of massive international attention -- and condemnation. In the melee of interviews, editorials and images, the basic facts of the incident have often been obscured. Segments of the American Jewish community were rendered confused and bereft of answers. Why, many asked, did Israel have to send commandos to assault a peaceful flotilla? Why were nine passengers killed and many wounded? And why must Israel blockade Gaza, a densely populated area notorious for its poverty and devastation?
Consider this scenario. In response to the atrocities of 9/11, the United States invades Afghanistan and battles non-uniformed Taliban terrorists who fight within densely populated areas. Though American forces do their utmost to avoid inflicting civilian casualties, many innocents are killed - not the least because the Taliban uses them as human shields. Nevertheless, the United States carefully investigates each civilian death and, in the case of misconduct, punishes those soldiers responsible.
will never forget my first day in Israel when a group of teenagers pointed at my tallit and laughed. It was the summer of 1970, and, at age 15, I had realized my dream of volunteering on a kibbutz. Raised in an American home in which Conservative Judaism melded effortlessly with moderate Zionism, I never suspected that some Israelis would see contradictions between the two, or that I might someday be forced to choose between them.
Great wars in history eventually become great wars about history. Only a few years after the last soldier leaves the battlefield, accepted truths about the nature of a military conflict and the motivations for it invariably come under assault by revisionists and counter-revisionists, whose vehemence can rival that of the original combatants. This again becomes the case with the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War.