Note: This article was written during Israel's last Gaza offensive, in March 2008.

There's an old joke about three people, one of them a member of the Israeli Defense Forces, who were shipwrecked and landed on a remote cannibal-infested island. They were captured before long, and as cauldrons of water were being hoisted on to the fire, the generous natives offered to grant each of their captives one last wish.

The first doomed man requested a pen and paper, and penned a farewell note to his family. The second person asked for a five-course –non-human-meat – final meal. The Israeli then asked that the tribal leader punch him in the face. A strange request, but in their final moments on earth, people don't always think coherently... As soon as the Chief socked him, the Israeli pulled out an Uzi and mowed down the hapless captors.

"Why did you wait until he punched you before shooting them?" the two relieved friends asked.

"And have the world say that I was the aggressor?!"


Nice joke, but, as I sadly learned this week, it does not at all reflect reality. It seems that regardless of how she is socked, any action Israel takes in self-defense will be viewed as "unwarranted aggression."

Reading the international reaction to the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflagration, I was unsure whether to laugh or cry.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon accused Israel of "disproportionate and excessive use of force." Israel's "close friend and ally," the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas, used words like "genocide," "massacre," and "international terrorism" to describe Israel's actions. A statement issued by the EU condemned the "recent disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces against the Palestinian population in Gaza." Saudi Arabia compared Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip to Nazi war crimes. Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister expressed concern about the Israeli retaliatory measures "because of their impact on civilians." And Pope Benedict called on "both Israelis and Palestinians" to unconditionally halt the violence.

The "moderate Palestinian" leadership based in the West Bank also suspended peace talks with Israel. The Palestinian representative to the United Nations explained that the Israeli attacks threaten to destabilize the region and "derail the peace process."

Wow.

After months and months of relative inaction in the face of daily rocket barrages, the Israeli government decided to take action to defend her people. The decision to act followed the death of a civilian in Sderot from Kassam fire, and the landing of rockets in Ashkelon, a southern city with a population of 100,000+.

So here's my question: We see that Israel will never have an acceptable "excuse" to pursue the terrorists and destroy their infrastructure and rocket factories. Such action will inevitably trigger universal condemnation. So why wait to be punched in the face before embarking on a self-defense mission?