After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, it became popular in the mainstream media and certainly on the Bush-bashing side of the political spectrum to engage in what’s become known as “the blame game.” While deficiencies at every level of government (and particularly that of the local and state response in Louisiana) were part of the problem, rational Americans now understand that there’s no magic cure for hurricane relief. We did the best we could and hopefully lessons will be learned for the future. The outpouring of generosity and support from everyday Americans is certainly the most inspiring.
But the one place the blame game still seems to be in high gear is pro-Israel websites and publications. As someone who contributes to and follows such publications, I’ve noticed a disturbing preponderance of articles since Hurricane Katrina, not expressing sympathy for the victims, but rather claiming that the devastation was punishment from God. Angry at the Bush administration for supporting Israel’s disengagement plan, such writers are taking the blame America road.
A popular tactic in these articles is to repeat a certain Condoleezza Rice quote ad nauseum in an effort to inflame the passions of those who feel the disengagement was only a precursor to further territorial concessions. While I suspect as much myself, I’m willing to admit when a falsehood has gained currency among my peers. And this is exactly what’s happened with the alleged Condoleezza Rice quote.
In an interview with the NY Times, Rice was quoted as saying that “it could not just be Gaza,” the implication being that the Bush administration would insist that Israel give up more land in the future. But as demonstrated last month in a CAMERA article, the NY Times took the quote completely out of context. They purposely distorted her words to make it sound as if she were bossing Israel around and judging by the continued usage of the debunked Rice quote by pro-Israel writers, they succeeded. The liberal media strikes again and Israel’s supporters have fallen for it.
In what is perhaps the one similarity to the Muslim countries surrounding it, some Israelis seem to think they can blame all their problems on someone else, namely the United States. And somehow this absolves them of their own responsibility. But Israel is a sovereign country with a democratic system and ultimately only its citizens are responsible for the actions of their government. Although many Americans expressed their opposition to the disengagement, in the end it wasn’t up to them. So when Sharon, much of the Knesset, and some portion of Israel’s population decided to go down the path of disengagement, they made their choice.
That the residents of the vacated settlements and their supporters opposed this decision is well known and respected. But now would be the time to funnel that opposition into a political movement that can go forward, rather than backwards down the road of blame. If there’s anything Israel will need in the coming years, it’s the will to survive. This will take all of her supporters contributing, not turning on each other.
Dealing with hostility from other countries is nothing new for Americans these days, but some of us are starting to find the Israel/Hurricane Katrina blame game rather tiresome. Like the partisanship and racial demagoguery following the disaster in our own country, it’s tasteless and mean-spirited. Not to mention arrogant. Who among us speaks for God?
Christian organizations putting out articles claiming that Katrina was God’s wrath for the decadence of New Orleans are doing a similar disservice. That Bible belt Mississippi bore the brunt of the storm doesn’t seem to matter to them. But since this is an argument that’s essentially unprovable, it’s rather difficult to debate.
Then of course, there are the raving Islamists invoking Allah’s anger against the “unbelievers” in the West. As Senior Kuwaiti official Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi put it, “The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah.” But we’ve come to expect lunacy and maliciousness from such quarters. It’s when it emanates from allies that it hurts.
To be fair, some Jewish writers and rabbis have denounced this practice, as have those on the Christian side of the spectrum. And there were many sympathetic words directed towards the victims of Hurricane Katrina, not to mention the Israeli government’s generous offer of assistance, in the days following. But the blame game articles still keep coming.
Whether or not one was opposed to the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and America’s role in it, using tragedy to exploit each other’s weaknesses will only tear us apart. The suicidal left in both America and Israel is already hard at work trying to do just that. Let’s not help them by dissolving into fractiousness at just the time we need unity.