The aim of these expensive full-page ads is to show how bad the Palestinians are.
But we have no illusions about the Palestinians. (That is a tautological “we” meaning “everyone who thinks as I do.”) The Palestinians are lead by a gang of fanatics, profiteers and politicians – just as the Israelis are. (Just as we are, for that matter – with somewhat more weight being given to the profiteers.) What makes us anti-Israel is not any particular affection for the Palestinians (except, as Americans, we tend to have a soft spot for the underdog), but an intense dislike of the way Israel behaves toward them – a dislike that is hardening into hatred as the years on years of its illegal occupation stretch into decades on decades.
If an Israeli air strike kills a bunch of Hamas guys at a rocket launching site, we don’t bat an eye. What enrages us is an Israeli soldier shooting dead a teen-ager throwing rocks, Israeli settlers destroying a Palestinian’s olive orchard, the Israeli army bulldozing the home of the family of a captured militant (visiting on the father and mother the sins of the son, so to speak).
Is it the intention of the ads in The Times, droning on and on about how nasty the Palestinians are, to excuse Israel’s own nastiness? Perhaps. But that is a policy of ethnic vengeance and our reaction is that Israel, of all nations, should be the last to take vengeance on a whole people because of the actions of a few.
My impression, though, is that these ads are not aimed at excusing Israel’s illegal and often brutal occupation. The implicit assumption of the authors of the ads seems to be that none of Israel’s violent, abusive and felonious acts are wrong because they all are justified by the principle of self-defense. The justification is absurd. An air strike on a bunch of Hamas rocket launchers is one thing – yes, that’s self-defense. But the rest? Killing stone-throwing kids, appropriating land, destroying orchards, blocking roads, bull-dozing homes, periodically decimating Gaza – that is not self-defense, it is simply the viciousness of a bully. And the tenor of the ads in The Times is exactly the whining self-justification of a schoolyard bully who wonders why everyone is turning against him. And he used to be so popular!