Israel, Guns and the Hypocrisy of American Politicians

This isn’t about partisan American politics. It’s about a political culture of hypocrisy that constantly puts Israel at risk

| Topics: America, Guns
Contrary to popular belief, Israel is not awash in personal firearms. Though citizens with guns have been critical in halting deadly mass shootings and other terrorist attacks.
Contrary to popular belief, Israel is not awash in personal firearms. Though citizens with guns have been critical in halting deadly mass shootings and other terrorist attacks. Photo: Corinna Kern/Flash90

This article was first posted following the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018. It is worth revisiting following the equally horrific school shooting yesterday in Uvalde, Texas given that my conclusion remains entirely relevant to current diplomatic efforts. It has been updated to include this latest shooting, as well as more recent world events.

After so many years in Israel, I’ve abandoned religious dedication to one party platform or the other, though my political leanings still put me firmly in the conservative camp. But we in Israel have observed a phenomenon of blatant hypocrisy that needs to be called out. And it’s happening right down the Republican-Democratic fault line.

The heinous recent school shootings first in Parkland, Florida and now in Uvalde, Texas have resulted in predictable impassioned calls by Democrats to finally impose restrictive gun laws in America. My intention isn’t to argue one or the other side of that particular debate.

I will note that such incidents also typically find Republicans pointing out how many guns are on the street in Israel, and our near total lack of school shootings. Of course, it’s not a simple apples-to-apples comparison. Israel does have restrictive gun control. The Jewish state is not awash in personal firearms, and only around 200,000 or so private citizens have a license to carry. Those wishing to purchase a gun must demonstrate a need for such a weapon, are limited in the amount of ammo they can obtain each year, and do not have the option of buying some of the deadlier weapons on display at your local Walmart.

On the other hand, deadly shootings with assault weapons do occur in Israel, at times with unfortunate frequency, because criminals and terrorists don’t care what the law says. In nearly all of those cases, it takes a good guy with a gun to stop the bad guy with a gun.

But, back to that hypocrisy I was talking about.

The same Democrats today shouting to remove a perceived threat to the children of America have also defended efforts by President Joe Biden and his former boss, Barack Obama, to reach nuclear agreements with Iran. And they pilloried Donald Trump for dismantling the deal Obama brokered.

I was initially reminded of this because on the same day Americans mourned, and argued over, the tragedy in Parkland, my children and all of their Israeli classmates were being treated to emergency missile attack drills by the Israel Homefront Command. That’s because a day earlier a top Iranian official had threatened to level the city of Tel Aviv. It’s a threat Israel must take very seriously, what with war appearing increasingly inevitable amid clashes in Syria and American gestures that ultimately seem only to have facilitated, if not encouraged Iran’s hegemonic designs on the region.

“Today… the United States, our friends and allies in the Middle East, and the entire world are safer because the threat of the nuclear weapon has been reduced,” declared then-US Secretary of State John Kerry after concluding the original Iran nuke deal on behalf of Obama.

Other leading Democrats agreed that while the deal was not a perfect solution, it was the best of several poor options. “On balance, I cannot let possibilities a decade or more in the future, however troubling, outweigh the immediate benefits of this agreement,” insisted Representative Patrick Murphy (D-FL). Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey echoed: “Left with these two choices, I nonetheless believe it is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse.”

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disagreed vociferously.

“The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday,” said the Israeli leader, accusing Western powers of making a “poor bet” with “our collective future.”

Many Israeli experts concurred. “Most nuclear experts think it’s a bad deal,” said Emily Landau, head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). Landau made special mention of Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile program, which Obama and American Democrats failed to adequately address, and which, in her estimation, is designed for one purpose alone–as a “delivery system for nuclear weapons.”

The leaders of Israel’s current governing coalition concur with their arch-nemesis Netanyahu and with Landau.

“The greatest threat to the State of Israel is Iran,” stressed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as the Biden administration was trying to hammer out a new Iran nuke deal in Vienna earlier this year.

“Anyone who thinks that this agreement will increase stability is mistaken,” continued the prime minister. “It will temporarily delay enrichment but all of us in the region will pay a heavy, disproportionate price for it.”

What does all this have to do with school shootings in America?

To many Israelis, something stinks. You can’t so vigorously decry a threat to your own children, and at the same time facilitate an even greater threat to ours.

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