Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 5, 2010

Left Turn / Right Turn


 Mountain Views News Saturday, June 5, 2010

GREG Welborn

Israel: Verdict First, Trial Later


As I See It

 During the confirmation of 
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the 
term “empathy” got a bad rap - 
as if relating to cases through 
her personal background was 
somehow a bad thing.   Others argued it’s essential 
to see the law from the perspective of the everyday 
lives of ordinary people, rather than only as it’s 
discussed in courtrooms and lecture halls.


 Empathetic considerations are too seldom a 
part of foreign policy.   The Bush Administration 
told us we’d be greeted as “liberators” upon 
invading Iraq.   It would’ve been helpful to employ 
a little empathy and imagine oneself in the other 
person’s shoes:   subject to the rule of a brutal 
dictator, but finding it hard to be appreciative as 
a superpower assumes it’s doing me a favor by 
pulverizing my capital city and killing thousands 
of countrymen in a display of “shock and awe”.   I 
wonder how much empathy Israeli policymakers 
have employed in dealing with Gaza.   Apparently 
not much, as actions seem intended to thwart 
resolution and prolong conflict.   


 We hear how Gaza was defined when Arabs 
rejected the 1947 United Nations 
partition and came under 
Egyptian control.   We know how 
the population was swelled by 
refugees from Jordan - another 
country not eager to harbor 
Palestinians.   We’re reminded 
that Gazans continued to suffer 
when Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian 
Authority took over following 
the 1994 Oslo Accords, and 
commerce became synonymous 
with corruption.


 I imagine the reaction of 
a typical Gazan to this history would be, “So 
what?”   The resident might become particularly 
incensed by that line attributed to Golda Meir 
about if only Arabs would “love their children 
as much as they hate us” - as if presuming to 
judge whether another shows sufficient love for 
their children.   (The reaction might be similar 
to that of a Vietnamese hearing Gen. William 
Westmoreland’s rationalization that life is 
somehow cheaper among the people of Southeast 
Asia.)   As a typical Gazan, I’d have no memory 
of the 1967 Israeli invasion and very little of life 
under Arafat.   My concern would be life as it is 
today, and how to bring myself and my family out 
of a desperate situation.


 If I were a Gazan voting in the 2006 elections, I 
might associate Fatah with the failures of Arafat. 
Hamas, however, builds schools and clinics and 
promises change.   A Gazan might also resent the 
hypocrisy of Americans, Europeans and Arab 
countries extolling the virtues of elections, yet 
refusing to accept the outcome when Hamas 
receives a plurality of votes.   I’d wonder why 
these countries would accept Hezbollah as part 
of a coalition government in Lebanon, but not 
Hamas as part of a government in Gaza.   Fatah 
might then become the enemy when it refuses to 
accept a coalition and fights to maintain control .


 Any doubts as to the real enemy, though, 
would be settled with the Israeli invasion of late 
2008 resulting in 1,400 Palestinians killed (along 
with 13 Israelis), which a U.N. commission later 
determined included the deliberate targeting of 
civilians - though a Gazan wouldn’t have to be 
reminded of that.   There’d be no eagerness to 
negotiate with a party attempting to pound an 
already suffering people into submission.   With 
Israeli control maintained over airspace and 
waters and the movement of goods and people 
in and out, a Gazan would likely agree with the 
U.N. that although Israeli troops have withdrawn, 
Gaza remains occupied territory.


 It might have been helpful for Israelis to 
employ a bit of empathy in assessing how the 
economic blockade of Gaza, and its attack on 
the flotilla attempting to break the embargo, 
would be perceived and ultimately affect its 
goals.   It might have considered the cost to its 
credibility when arguing that to lessen the threat 
from Hamas it was necessary to ban the import 
of crayons, musical instruments, light bulbs, 
chocolate, shampoo and blankets - let alone cars, 
refrigerators and computers.   As retired US Army 
Lt. Col. Robert Mackey pointed out in a recent 
column, it also doesn’t help Israel’s credibility 
when it has a detailed, multi-page report ready 
to hand out within a couple hours of a chaotic, 
middle-of-the-night operation.


 Was there any empathetic consideration as 
to how the action would be perceived by other 
nations?   Considerable 
damage was done to the 
relationship with Turkey, 
one of Israel’s most valuable 
allies in the region.   Turkish 
Prime Minister Recep 
Erdogan referred to the 
raid as a “bloody massacre” 
which was an attack “on 
international law, the 
conscience of humanity 
and world peace”.   NATO, 
of which Turkey is a 
member, has called for an 
investigation.   Another important ally, Egypt, has 
temporarily opened up Gaza’s southern border 
for the transport of goods and people.


 Reaction has been strong from within Israel. 
Former Israeli Defense Forces officer Mickey 
Bergman writes that he directs his “outrage” 
towards leaders that would send soldiers “on a 
mission that defies logic”.   While it would’ve been 
possible for a Navy commando to “dismantle and 
immobilize” the ships’ engines, he accuses Israeli 
leaders of having  “demonstrated that the life of 
a soldier is no longer as sacred as it had always 
been held.”


 Columnist Bradley Burston of Haaretz puts 
it more broadly;   “We are no longer defending 
Israel. We are now defending the siege of Gaza.” 
He points out that while Israeli leaders want “the 
world to focus on Iran and the threat it poses to 
the people of Israel . . . the world is now focused 
on Israel and the threat it poses to the people of 
Gaza.”   Had the boats been allowed to land, it 
might have been a one-day news story.   Now, as 
a Kuwaiti lawmaker on board one of the vessels 
put it, “our message reached every corner of the 


 I have a hard time being empathetic with 
those in a land of great tradition and riches who 
see benefit in an us-against-the-world, bunker 
mentality.   Unfortunately, it’s easier to understand 
the saying that one who has nothing, no hope and 
no future, will fight as if he has nothing to lose.

With apologies to Lewis Carroll’s Queen, 
watching the world’s great leaders has left me 
feeling as though I have traveled down the rabbit 
hole into wonderland. The speed with which the 
UN and other august world bodies came together 
to denounce Israel’s actions against the supposed 
“peace flotilla” is simply unprecedented in 
modern times, or in any historical period for that 
matter. What makes it all the more maddening is 
that any other country on this planet – including 
every one of the members of the UN Security 
Council, the European Union, or NATO – would 
have done exactly what Israel did. 

 Place this event in the context of our country 
and geography for a moment. If Mexico had 
become all but ungovernable (it’s almost there by 
the way), was being run by thugs and terrorists, 
and allowed its border lands to be used to launch 
missiles into the U.S., don’t you think we would 
seal that border tight and institute an embargo 
to make sure that the terrorists weren’t being 
resupplied with weapons? If you answer no to 
that question, stop reading this article. You and 
I don’t inhabit the same universe and certainly 
can’t converse with any set of common moral 

 Second question: if another country, whose 
leader had recently staged a photo op with 
Ahmadinejad, sent off a convoy of ships intent 
on purposely confronting and breaking our 
embargo, don’t you think we would intercept that 
convoy, inspect the cargo to make sure that only 
humanitarian items were really included and 
then send it on its way? Of course we would, and 
we ought to stop the hypocrisy of implying that 
we would do anything other than that, or that 
Israel isn’t well within its rights to do the same.

 The fact that there was loss of life is absolutely 
irrelevant to the decision inasmuch as the “peace 
activists” were the first to attack the Israeli 
commandos as they boarded the ship. If it 
were my son who had boarded that ship, used a 
paintball gun to first try to control the situation, 
then found himself being beaten with metal rods 
and knives and thrown off the deck of the ship, I’d 
wonder what took him, or his comrades, so long 
to use their real weapons to defend themselves.

 The ludicracy of the UN’s, EU’s and US’ reaction 
to this absolutely justified and proportionate use 
of force is rendered simultaneously comical and 
pathetic when one considers their reaction to the 

 1 6,000 to 10,000 rocket attacks per year into 
Israel from Gaza: (hint… there has been no 
substantive reaction)

 2 North Korea’s deliberate sinking of a South 
Korean ship causing 46 deaths (hint…. they’re 
thinking about doing something)

 3 The announcement that Iran now has enough 
enriched uranium for two nuclear warheads 
(hint…. nothing)

 The list could go on for awhile given how 
feckless the supposed leaders of the free world are 
when it comes to dealing with real problems and 
confronting real evil. Putting anti-Semitism aside 
for a moment, although it never really leaves the 
scene in world affairs, the reason for the world’s 
almost instantaneous condemnation of Israel is 
to divert attention away from their own failings. 
World leaders don’t like to have to talk about 
why they can’t balance their 
budgets, why they can’t stop 
Iran from getting the bomb 
or why they can’t get China 
to exert the immense leverage 
it has over North Korea to control the situation 
on that peninsula. It’s ever so much easier to 
focus the press on Israel’s actions and play on the 
anti-Semitism that is all too ready to justify the 
emasculation of the only true democracy in the 
Middle East. 

 Sadly, the world’s people may soon pay a dear 
price for their leaders’ ineptitude. There are 
rogues and thugs in the world, and they pay very 
close attention to how world leaders react to such 
events. To the extent that the free world is lead by 
the United States toward a policy of appeasement 
in the guise of engagement, or resetting the table, 
or whatever else we’re calling it now, they learn 
that the free world doesn’t have the courage of 
its convictions. Rogues and thugs constantly test 
the margins – just like the sandlot bully does – 
to see what they can get away with. With each 
pull back or erasure of the line in the sand, they 
take one more step forward, trampling rights, 
freedoms and borders along the way.

 None of this will stop until at least the US 
(we really don’t need anyone else for this) 
applauds Israel’s actions to defend itself and then 
announces that we, too, will interdict any ship 
which so much as suggests hostile action on any 
ocean of the world. Call it a Pax Americana, if 
you will, but at least there would be boundaries 
between good and evil and a whole lot more 
security in the world.

 If you doubt this, ask yourself if you think 
that Israel’s dismantling of the embargo to allow 
anything at all to enter Gaza would actually stop 
the missile attacks or prompt Hamas, Hezbollah, 
Syria, Iran or anyone else in the region from 
calling for the total destruction of Israel? At the 
last peace conference, Israel voluntarily left Gaza, 
turning it over to the Palestinians, as a massive 
token of good faith. In return, their soldiers were 
attacked as they left and the missile attacks grew 
in number and mortality.

 Everything you think you believe about Israel – 
assuming you see them as the perpetrators in this 
situation – must be tempered by a sober analysis 
of what you would have our own government do, 
if the situation existed on our southern border. 
This isn’t just hyperbole. Sadly, we may not be 
that many months away from real terror attacks 
emanating from the ungoverned border regions 
of Mexico. Please, dear readers, before we rush 
to render a verdict on poor, little Israel, consider 
what actions would have to be taken if San 
Diego or Tucson were hit by one rocket attack, 
let alone 6,000 in one year. Consider what you 
would insist our President do if you saw your 
son thrown off the deck of a ship, beaten with 
a metal rod or stabbed with a knife by a “peace 
activist”. Then, and only then, will you be able to 
understand what Israel must do. 

 About the author: Gregory J. Welborn is a 
freelance writer and has spoken to several civic 
and religious organizations on cultural and 
moral issues. He lives in the Los Angeles area 
with his wife and 3 children and is active in the 
community. He can be reached at gregwelborn@

I have a hard time 
being empathetic with 
those in a land of great 
tradition and riches 
who see benefit in an 
bunker mentality.


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in writing and editing business documents including brochures, proposals, newsletters, resumes, 
customer success stories, press releases, and articles for newspapers and magazines. 

 Current work includes writing the column, “Looking Up with Bob Eklund,” in Mountain Views News, 
and writing newsletters for the Mount Wilson Observatory. I recently published a book, First Star I See 
Tonight: an Exploration of Wonder, and am finishing a second book, Winds Aloft. 

For writing samples and resume, see my web site: Bob Eklund beklund@sprynet.
com (310) 216-5947

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Limited time offer.
Editor’s Note: Stanley J. Forrester, the Mountain Views original sports columnist, retired a while back 
from his weekly column. However, like many of our ‘retirees’, every once in a while a topic comes up 
that brings them back to the table. Let’s see what is on Stanley’s mind this week.

 My father always told me that if you 
don’t stand for something, you will fall for 
anything. So dear readers where do you 

 Where do you stand on the call that caused 
the Detroit Tiger’s pitcher, Armando 
Galarraga to lose his perfect game against 
the Cleveland Indians? The Call ,That Call, 
cost him to be denied his place in history as 
being the third person in this season and the 
twenty first overall to 
have thrown a perfect 
game. Twenty seven 
batters came to the 
plate and twenty seven 
were retired without 
a hit, or a walk, or an 

 I have always said 
that baseball was 
beautiful because of 
its imperfections, 
the umpire being 
the greatest of those 
imperfections. But 
consider that this young 
man could have been 
in the record books for 
doing something that 
has only been done twenty one times in all of 
professional baseball. Think about it - to do 
something that has been done only twenty 
one times since the advent of professional 
baseball. And let’s not to overlook the fact 
that it would have also been the only time in 
professional baseball history in this country 
that three perfect games were pitched in one 

 In case you missed it, the umpire called 
the twenty seventh batter safe when he was 
clearly out.( Thanks to the replay cameras). 
Baseball’s greatest imperfection, humans, 
but also baseball greatest asset, both of the 
principles in this matter, brought honor to 
themselves, their team, and the game.

 In this era of the spoiled, over paid, drug 
taking, always on the wrong side of the 
law athlete, Mr. Galarraga’s actions and 
statement regarding the blown call showed 
him to be a gentleman. And the umpire Jim 
Joyce who has had a tremendous career will 
be forever known as the guy that blew the 
call. Yet this guy, after he had the opportunity 

to see the replay went to the player with 
tears in his eyes and apologized. These two 
responses to the call speaks volumes of the 
character of the Galarraga and Joyce. Both 
lost something on the call but gained a lot of 
respect due to their actions after the call. 

 It was an honest human error, and unlike 
any other bad call in sports, it is one that is 
not disputed. Therefore, the one person that 
hasn’t stepped up to the plate needs to do so 
now. Attention Baseball Commissioner Bud 
Selig: Stand for something, do your best and 
when mistakes are made do the right thing. 

Where Do You Stand?

MVNews this week:  Page 9