New York, NY, January 6, 2009 … In the first days of Israel's military operation into Gaza major American newspaper editorials showed understanding and support for the Israeli effort to stop scores of Hamas rockets from attacking Israel's southern cities and towns, according to a survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
"The many editorials in support of Israel are important for their understanding that Israel had to respond to the terrorizing of its citizens by the daily bombardment of Hamas rocket attacks," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "These editors did not engage in moral equivalency, but strongly backed Israel's right to defend its people and its land."
Daily newspapers from across the country published supportive editorials outlining Israel's right to defend itself from Hamas' terrorism. Headlines included:
- "Israel's Gaza Defense" (The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29)
- The blood on Hamas' hands: (Dallas Morning News, Dec. 29)
- "Hammering Hamas" (The New York Post, Dec. 29)
- "A justified attack" (San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 30)
- "Rockets from Gaza have exhausted Israel's patience" (The Seattle Times, Dec. 31)
- "Israel justified in strikes against Hamas" (The Arizona Republic, Dec. 30)
- "Israel Is Forced to Defend Itself" (The Tampa Tribune, Jan. 3)
Newspaper editorials that expressed criticism of Israel's action included USA Today, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Cleveland Plain Dealer and the San Francisco Chronicle. Editorials in The New York Times and the Minneapolis Star Tribune cast blame on both Hamas and Israel for the current situation.
However, even papers critical of Israel's action said the Jewish state had the right to self-defense and the responsibility to protect its citizens.
Editorials Supportive of Israel
The Wall Street Journal editorial supported Israel's right to self-defense and said Israel's air assault on the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas rocket attacks was "inspiring familiar international denunciations." It continued, "Israel's air assault has resulted in more Palestinian casualties, but that is in part because Hamas deliberately locates its security forces in residential neighborhoods. This is intended both to deter Israel from attacking in the first place as well as to turn world opinion against the Jewish state when it does attack."
The Dallas Morning News editorial said: "The pictures of the civilian victims of Israeli air strikes – especially children – are heart-rending. But let's keep straight whose fault this tragedy is: Hamas, the fanatical Islamists who rule Gaza and who have used the land as a launching pad for firing rockets into Israel." It added, "There can be no peace as long as Hamas is a player."
The New York Post editorial criticized U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for saying that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza represented a "disproportionate" response to Hamas violence. "To the critics, there is no Israeli right to self-defense," it said. "So, much better that Israel do precisely what it is now doing: Targeting the instruments of terror."
The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial stated, "Hamas has demonstrated yet again that easing the lives of the Palestinians whom it professes to represent is not its goal. Inviting Israeli reprisals to enrage the civilians of Gaza against the Jewish state comes before food, fuel and medical necessities. Yet it was Israel that allowed the Red Cross and others to cross into Gaza Sunday to provide those much-needed supplies."
The Seattle Times editorial called Hamas "the primary irritant to the festering wound that is Gaza," and a movement that is reviled by political rivals in the Palestinian parliament and despised by Egypt. It said that Hamas is "an open surrogate for Iran." It said that Israel imposed a harsh economic blockade in response to Hamas rockets but that the group "still attacked rather than relent for the welfare of its own [people]." It concluded that, "As the rest of the world has averted its eyes and been mute, Israel chose to act, and not as the bully."
The Arizona Republic editorial asked: "What country would fail to react in similar circumstances?" It said that this does not diminish the tragedy of civilian deaths but that "the bloodshed begins with Hamas. The radical Islamist movement, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries, has never renounced its goal of destroying Israel."
The Tampa Tribune editorial noted that calls for a cease fire, "…ignore the reality that Hamas won't stop the launchings that began shortly after Israel pulled out of Gaza and allowed it to be policed by Palestinians. An effective six-month truce expired last month and Hamas leaders refused to renew it. Their motive is to provoke Israel into fighting back so that they can enlist outside allies in their goal of destroying Israel, something they could never do alone."