Editorial cartoons go right to the heart and to the gut. When I opened the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday and saw the image of Ivanka Trump pointing to a line of dead bodies in Gaza, along with the words “Ivanka’s latest product line,” my heart almost stopped and my gut was nauseated.
Jack Ohman did what political commentary should do: It provoked a response. But many in the Sacramento Jewish and Christian communities shared with me their anger and shock. To some, the cartoon is blatantly anti-Semitic, shameful and reminiscent of the “blood libel” accusations that cause deep pain because they have been used for centuries to justify the slaughter and genocide of Jews.
The Bee should have thought twice before publishing this incendiary cartoon because unfortunately Ohman got it wrong.
While Ohman and others – including some in the Jewish community – blame the violence in Gaza on the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem (authorized by a strong bipartisan vote of Congress in 1995 and promised by three previous presidents), the reality is that Gaza border attacks were organized by the terrorist group Hamas.
It calls them the “great march of return,” which refers to the stated intention to destroy the Jewish state by uprooting or killing current residents and carrying out a mass transfer to Israel of the descendants of Arab refugees of 1948 – people who have never lived in Israel but whose parents and grandparents were never welcomed in Arab nations.
Countless times Israel has offered land for peace, but each time the offer was rejected. In 2000, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to create a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank. In addition, he agreed to dismantle 63 isolated settlements. But Palestinian leaders rejected the proposal.
In 2008, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to withdraw from almost the entire West Bank and partition Jerusalem on a demographic basis. That was again rejected.
President Trump may very well be unpredictable, but those crying foul over his decisions should realize that it is the Palestinians who voted for Hamas – and Hamas finished the job by violently throwing out the Palestinian Authority. The result? Thousands of rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians and more than $90 million spent to build tunnels to kidnap and murder Israelis – money that could have been spent for the benefit of Gaza.
Ivanka Trump and the embassy move didn’t create this situation, or even make it worse. If anything, it should be a wake-up call to the Palestinians – to reject a political culture that mires them in an endless, futile war aimed at destroying Israel.
I and most in my community have great sympathy for those Palestinians who want a peaceful solution to the conflict. But until Palestinians choose new leaders willing to accept the right of Jews to have a nation and are willing to sit down with Israeli leaders and hammer out a peace deal that accommodates both peoples’ national aspirations, Israel will have no choice but to take every necessary step to protect its sovereignty and its people.
Reuven H. Taff is the rabbi and spiritual leader of Mosaic Law Congregation in Sacramento. He can be contacted at Rabbi@mosaiclaw.org.