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A South Carolina school district removed ‘The Fixer,’ a classic novel about antisemitism with its own history of school controversies

(JTA) — Late last year, a mom in South Carolina requested that her local school district remove nearly 100 books from its shelves — including a classic novel about antisemitism.

The challenge to “The Fixer,” an award-winning 1966 work by Bernard Malamud, came amid an ongoing flurry of attempts by conservative activists to take books out of schools. And this instance of an attempted ban followed what has become an established playbook.

The parent in question, Ivie Szalai, is affiliated with the conservative “parents’ rights” group Moms for Liberty. She alleged that “The Fixer” and dozens of other books were too lewd for children’s eyes, raising her concerns at Beaufort County school board meetings and with district officials.

“I know that many of the books in question may have extremely helpful material for many students,” she reportedly said at one meeting of the coastal district that includes the popular vacation destinations Hilton Head and St. Helena Island. “But that does not negate the fact that many of them contain explicit sexuality, even some pornographic, X-rated scenes.”

In seeking to ban “The Fixer,” however, Szalai isn’t just joining a recent national trend. She’s also targeting a book that was at the center of a previous generation’s attempt to restrict children’s access to literature — and that led to a rare Supreme Court decision on library book bans, in 1982. 

The situation in Beaufort County, more than 40 years later, bears striking parallels to that case and demonstrates the deep roots of conservative efforts to ban books. It offers yet another example of how stories about Judaism and antisemitism, even on topics that predate the Holocaust, can get caught in the book-banning dragnet. And it shows how the movement’s advocates are scoring victories even in places without new laws working in their favor.

Szalai did not respond to repeated requests for comment. But Josh Malkin, an attorney and senior advocacy strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, believes that challenging “The Fixer” may be part of a broad attempt to stress-test the court’s ruling from 1982, which was inconclusive. 

“What the right is doing really well right now is finding language in the law that they believe there to be wiggle room around,” said Malkin, who has been monitoring book challenges across the state. “With all of this insanity around book bans in 2023, it’ll be interesting to see how far up in the judicial system this gets.”

“The Fixer” fictionalizes a notorious 1911 case in which a Jewish laborer in Kyiv, Mendel Beilis, was charged with murdering a Christian boy and using his blood to make matzah. The case is one of the most famous modern examples of the blood libel — the canard that Jews murder non-Jewish children and use their blood for ritual purposes. Beilis’ family has bristled that the character based on him is a crass, irreligious laborer, and has alleged that Malamud plagiarized from Beilis’ own autobiography. Still, the story is widely recognized as an indictment of antisemitism and a powerful portrayal of human suffering. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. 

Szalai challenged “The Fixer” in October 2022 along with popular titles including “The Kite Runner” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” She did not follow the district’s normal process for challenging books, instead submitting a list of the objectionable material to officials via email and threatening “to escalate this to authorities” if the district did not take immediate action.

Unlike some other Republican-led states, Malkin said, South Carolina has no law that requires schools to acquiesce to book bans, though the state superintendent was elected last year on a promise to prevent “political indoctrination” in schools. The state’s Republican governor Henry McMaster has also made book bans into a political issue, instructing his education department to investigate “obscene material” in schools. Local districts can decide how to handle challenges that parents raise about books.

Candace Bruder, a spokesperson for the Beaufort County School District, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the books were removed following threats against the district and efforts by activists to identify its librarians.

“In order to protect our employees from this harassment, the decision was made to temporarily pull the 97 books for review through an organized process,” she wrote.

In the months since, many of the books that Szalai challenged have returned to schools’ shelves, including “The Freedom Writers Diary,” which details an inner-city public school teacher’s efforts to educate her students about the Holocaust. But “The Fixer” is still in limbo: The school board in Beaufort County will decide the book’s local fate next month.

It isn’t the first school board to weigh that question. In 1975, board members in the Island Trees School District on Long Island removed “The Fixer” and six other books from school libraries — citing similar complaints as those aired by Szalai now. 

In a statement, the Island Trees district’s board members said the books were “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.” The critique of “The Fixer” included instances in the book of profanity directed toward the Jewish protagonist by his prison guards. A board member told the Washington Post that he thought some passages might be objectionable to Jews.

A group of students challenged the board’s book bans and took their case to the Supreme Court. In the Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico case, a majority of justices ruled in the students’ favor, but they also said school boards have a role to play in managing the titles available in school libraries. Only a few agreed that the students had a First Amendment right to access particular books. “Because it’s a plurality of opinion, it doesn’t have the same force of law that majority opinions do,” Malkin said.

Now, conservative activists are making the same arguments as their forebears about books they’re seeking to ban. The questions at the core of the Supreme Court ruling are animating the book-ban movement, and its opponents, today.

“As a Jewish person who knows the history of our culture, I know we have an active role to play in ensuring that ‘never again’ happens. This for me is part of that moment,” Emily Mayer, a former public school teacher in Beaufort County who now works as a political strategist, told JTA about why she has been organizing her neighbors to oppose book bans.

“I didn’t think that I would ever be kind of on the precipice of something like this, to make sure that we don’t see history repeat itself,” said Mayer, whose father is a rabbi in Maryland. “But now that we are at that moment, if I sat by quietly — and other Jewish advocates I know feel the same — we would be doing an injustice, not just to the Jewish religion, but to all people who have been othered in some kind of way.”

Art Spiegelman, author of “Maus,” poses in Paris, March 20, 2012. (Bertrand Langlois/AFP via Getty Images)

While today’s book ban movement focuses largely on titles about race, gender and sexuality, Malkin believes it is not an accident that books about Jews keep facing challenges. Multiple school districts have fielded challenges to “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,” with at least one in Florida permanently removing it because of a determination that it is “not age-appropriate.” The Holocaust graphic memoir “Maus,” a picture book about Purim featuring a family with two dads and a book about Shabbat included in a diversity collection have all faced challenges over the last year.

“This movement of white Christian nationalism is coinciding with the rise in antisemitism. So while that likely doesn’t make the text of the challenge, it’s scary,” said Malkin, who is Jewish. “This whole thing is: you scratch back one layer and it’s about putting God back into schools. But whose God? I think that’s a pretty quick step to ‘Let’s make sure we are marginalizing and othering folks with other religious beliefs.’”

In 1975, the Island Trees board members got their lists of “objectionable” books at a conservative political conference at a time of skyrocketing complaints about obscene material in schools. Similarly, conservative parent activists today are turning to BookLooks, a website created by Emily Maikisch, a former Moms for Liberty activist, to identify books to challenge.

Szalai has said that she sourced her complaints from BookLooks, which annotates and rates books based on their content. She did not read most of the books she sought to have removed, according to local reports

“I felt led to do what I did, and I’d do it all again,” Szalai said at a school board meeting last month when she informed the board that she would be pursuing criminal charges over a decision to keep a book she said was “obscene” in schools. 

BookLooks assigns “The Fixer” a rating of 3 out of 5, what it calls “minor restricted.” A content warning reads: “This book contains controversial religious and racial commentary; hate involving racism; violence including self harm; and profanity,” citing more than 30 instances of objectionable content. Those include descriptions of violence and invocations of antisemitic stereotypes. It ends with a chart showing how many times profane words can be counted in the book.

Absent from the BookLooks brief on “The Fixer” is one of its most famous lines, spoken early on by its ill-fated narrator: “There are no wrong books. What’s wrong is the fear of them.”

Maikisch told JTA the site’s rating for “The Fixer” should be viewed as the equivalent of an R rating for a movie, meant to reflect “very valid concerns” parents could have about the book’s content. She thinks it’s a good thing parents are challenging books like this one in their school districts and prompting formal review processes.

“The alternative would be for parents to be hands-off and let the ‘experts’ handle it,” she told JTA. “But that ship has sailed and parents are not wanting to remain passive and uninformed about their children’s education anymore.” 

Still, Maikisch said she’d be “very surprised” to see books like “The Fixer” completely removed from high schools, which she said “wouldn’t likely be a popular position.” 

BookLooks has fueled challenges to “The Fixer” in other places where Moms for Liberty is active. The book was on a list of challenged books drawn up by the group’s chapter in Horry County, South Carolina and, following a member’s complaint, it was also removed from shelves in Martin County, Florida — a state where a law allows parents to challenge instructional materials and books in public school libraries and where Gov. Ron DeSantis has been an outspoken ally of Moms for Liberty, which was founded in the state in 2021. 

Julie Marshall, a Martin County parent and Moms for Liberty activist, asserted in a form challenging “The Fixer” that the book had no serious literary value and said it should be removed entirely from schools, while noting that she had not personally read it. Asked to provide a description of the book’s inappropriate content, she provided a link to its BookLooks page.

The principal of a Martin County high school that had the book in its library wrote back weeks later to let Marshall know that “The Fixer” and several other titles had been removed from the shelves, according to emails that Marshall shared with JTA. 

But Marshall, who successfully fought for the removal of a Jodi Picoult novel about the Holocaust in her district earlier this year, told JTA that she came to believe — after consulting with “some Jewish friends” whom she did not name — that “The Fixer” should in fact be available in schools, but only for older students. 

“The Fixer is an Adult novel and has graphic violence in it and that is how it came up for possible removal, but after discussions, we did not feel this book should be removed,” she told JTA via email.

The review committee in Beaufort County could agree with that assessment when it reveals its latest batch of book reviews on Aug. 2. The committee, which meets around once a month to tackle about 10 books at a time, prioritized “titles being used in classroom instruction,” Bruder said to explain last spring why “The Fixer” hadn’t yet been reviewed. But it is now on the agenda alongside six other more recently published novels.

The committee has so far sided with the parent challenges only three times, for a novel about a school shooting by Jodi Picoult, a novel about abuse by Colleen Hoover, and a raunchy novel about teens on a road trip by Jesse Andrews. 

Before they meet, Beaufort County committee members are reading “The Fixer.” It’s something that Malamud himself said he wished would happen more often when his book faced challenges.

“I wish those school board members and others who want to ban books would make an effort to understand them before shoveling them off library shelves,” the author said in 1976, a decade before his death, in response to the Island Trees ban. “If they read ‘The Fixer,’ they might be clamoring to have more students read it.”

Mayer said she thought one outcome could indeed be more widespread readership for a significant Jewish novel that is read far less often than it was at its heyday.

“It’s the same thing that we say about children, that the best way to get a kid to do something is to tell them not to do it,” she said. “Saying you can’t read that book only makes it more appealing. … It’s very possible that ‘The Fixer’ could come back around.”

For Jay Beilis, Mendel Beilis’s grandson, that wouldn’t be an ideal outcome. He’s been waging a one-man battle against “The Fixer” because of Malamud’s alleged plagiarism and in defense of his grandfather’s character, even publishing a book enumerating his concerns. Yet he says he doesn’t want to see the book pulled off of school district shelves because of the concerns raised by Moms for Liberty members.

“I’m not going to celebrate the book being banned,” Beilis told JTA. “A book like that to me shouldn’t be read — but not for the reason the people who are banning it are doing it for.”

The post A South Carolina school district removed ‘The Fixer,’ a classic novel about antisemitism with its own history of school controversies appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israel’s ambassador to Canada says his country faces critical decisions after a night of Iranian missile attacks—and urges Canada to list the IRGC as a terrorist group

Israel is at a crucial juncture after Iran fired more than 350 ballistic and cruise missiles at the Jewish state overnight on April 13, according to Israel’s ambassador to Canada. “We are facing one of the most critical moments in the history of the State of Israel when a country like Iran starts an attack […]

The post Israel’s ambassador to Canada says his country faces critical decisions after a night of Iranian missile attacks—and urges Canada to list the IRGC as a terrorist group appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Nicaragua’s Charade at the ICJ

General view of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands December 11, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

JNS.orgThe solemnly named International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has become an arena for the world’s despots and authoritarians to strut and grandstand, projecting their own abuses—torture, censorship, genocide—onto the world’s democracies.

The anti-democratic crusade waged in the name of human rights has impacted Israel more than any other state. The Jewish state is subjected to insulting and, frankly, frivolous lawsuits every time it tries to discharge its basic duty of protecting its citizens—whether that was the security fence constructed along the West Bank border more than a decade ago or the war against Hamas in Gaza right now.

Since the onset of the latest war in the Gaza Strip, triggered by the monstrous Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7, Israel has been the focus of a baseless charge of genocide brought about by South Africa, which largely failed in its bid to make the accusation stick. Many observers pointed out that South Africa’s worsening domestic record—marked by corruption, horrific xenophobia towards migrants from other countries in southern Africa and an inability to deliver basic services like electricity and clean water to those who need them most—hardly qualifies its African National Congress (ANC)-led government to sit in judgment over Israel. Yet Pretoria has continued undeterred, at the same time that it welcomes Hamas leaders for state visits and treats its Jewish community—and anyone else who dares utter understanding for Israel—with unvarnished antisemitism.

Now the baton has passed to Nicaragua, which last week sent its lawyers to the ICJ to charge Germany with aiding and abetting Israel’s supposed “genocide.” The bitter irony is that it is Nicaragua’s far-left leadership, aligned with the dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba, that should be in the dock.

Daniel Ortega has been in power in Nicaragua since 2007, and he’s not going anywhere—at least, not voluntarily. Some readers will remember Ortega’s name from the Sandinista revolution that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and the Iran-Contra scandal that followed during the subsequent decade. But you don’t have to dig deep into that history to get a sense of the kind of regime that he runs. As Freedom House—an NGO that monitors the state of liberty around the world—explains it, the latest period of Ortega’s rule has been “a period of democratic deterioration marked by the consolidation of all branches of government under his party’s control, the limitation of fundamental freedoms and unchecked corruption in government.”

In the last year alone, the Nicaraguan regime has expelled more than 200 opposition leaders into exile in the United States. It has passed new legislation to strip those deemed “traitors to the homeland” of their citizenship. It has turned the police into an arm of the executive, trampling over the separation of powers that democracies hold so dear. In many ways, this new wave of repression is an outgrowth of the regime’s brutal clampdown on anti-government protests in 2018. Abroad, meanwhile, its authoritarian domestic policy is matched by unflinching support for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and a close bond with the Iranian regime, North Korea and other rogue states.

This, in short, is the character of the regime that has brought charges of “genocide” against Israel by targeting Germany’s supply of arms to the Jewish state—as if a serial sex offender was to opportunistically cry out, “rape!”

Why is Nicaragua embarking on this path at the ICJ? Some insight was provided by a German journalist who specializes in Latin American affairs, Toni Keppeler, during an interview last week with Swiss radio. Noting that Nicaragua is quite isolated among the world’s states, Keppeler suggested that the ICJ lawsuit was seen by Ortega as a means of boosting his international image. And Germany, he added, was a much safer bet than the United States, which supplies far more weapons to Israel, because America can punish Nicaragua in ways that Germany couldn’t or wouldn’t. He also noted that Ortega wants to be embraced by left-wing groups around the world. And so the Nicaraguan caudillo figures, not unreasonably, that bandwagoning on the Palestinian cause they are obsessed with is the way he will achieve that.

But there is another, more sinister reason behind Nicaragua’s action. Ultimately, these cases against Israel at the ICJ are aimed at shifting public perceptions of Israel and its history, and in particular, the influence of the Holocaust upon support for Israel in the democratic world. One of the reasons why Germany supports Israel is simply because it was the country that initiated the mass slaughter of Jews during World War II. Since 1945, democratic Germany has been guided by entirely different principles, elevating its backing for Israel into a staatsrason—“reason of state.” Indeed, as I noted recently, one of the several questions about Jews and Israel on the newly reformulated naturalization test for prospective immigrants to Germany asks, “What is the basis of Germany’s special responsibility to Israel?” with the correct answer being “The crimes of national socialism.”

That is how it should be, but for the international left, such a stance is intolerable. In their jaundiced eyes, Germany has atoned for the Holocaust by backing the nakba—the Arabic word for “catastrophe” used by many Palestinians to describe the creation of modern-day Israel in 1948. Germany’s position irritatingly reminds the world that Jews were once victims of nightmarish genocide themselves—hardly the sort of fact you’d want to highlight if your purpose is to turn them into victims once again. And so, Nicaragua’s lawyers (including, disgracefully, a German citizen named Daniel Muller) have trooped into the ICJ to argue that supporting the Jewish state is the wrong way to express solidarity with Jews.

The goal here, make no mistake, is to separate the Holocaust from Israel and to argue that the one entity in the world capable of preventing another Holocaust is actually sowing its seeds! It’s topsy-turvy logic, but if it works effectively as propaganda, generating meme after meme on social media, why worry about that?

Hence we arrive at a situation where the 15 ICJ judges debate a phantom genocide while turning a blind eye to genuine examples of this phenomenon, along with other related crimes. “The government of Nicaragua is perpetrating widespread violations and abuses that may amount to crimes against humanity,” the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect Project noted in a briefing back in February, but you won’t hear a peep about that in the ICJ’s corridors. Ditto for Turkey’s racist treatment of its Kurdish minority, and indeed, for the myriad other examples of government-sponsored cruelty on every continent.

This is yet another demonstration of antisemitism, insofar as antisemitism applies to standards for Jews that no other nation has to contend with. That is the ugly reality behind these fanciful appeals to “international law” that plague Israel. Germany is now receiving a glimpse of what that feels like but only because of its relationship with Israel—otherwise, this case would never have been brought to court.

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Misplaced Moral Outrage on Civilian Casualties

Former US President Barack Obama. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.“Israel has taken more steps to avoid harming civilians than any other military in history. … Steps that Israel has taken to prevent casualties [are] historic in comparison to all these other wars.” — John Spencer, chairman of urban warfare studies, West Point, Feb. 17, 2024

“[Immediately after taking office] Obama authorized two Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, which, combined, killed an estimated one militant and 10 civilians, including between four and five children.” — Obama’s Embrace of Drone Strikes Will Be a Lasting Legacy,” New York Times, Jan. 12, 2016

In recent years, we have investigated civilian harm from U.S. air strikes … in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and found that thousands of civilians have been killed or seriously injured … with little accountability.” — Amnesty International at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Council hearing, Feb. 9, 2022

The recent accidental deaths of seven foreign aid workers with World Central Kitchen in the Gaza Strip have sparked an eruption of anti-Israel vitriol that highlights the vicious Judeophobic prejudice that is sweeping much of the globe today. This is something that defies all and any tenets of morality and reason. Indeed, by any conceivable criterion of human decency, there is no conflict in recent history in which the gulf between good and evil, wanton barbarism and humanitarian restraint, has been so clearly delineated as that between the protagonists in the ongoing war in Gaza.

Painstaking Israeli restraint

The tragedy of collateral damage has been a lamentable aspect of warfare ever since nation-states began to displace dynastic monarchies as the dominant structural element in the international system and perhaps even before that.

Rarely if ever has one of the belligerent parties—let alone the victim of a brutal unprovoked attack on its civilians—demonstrated such painstaking care to avoid harm befalling enemy civilians as Israel. This is reflected in the unequivocal declaration of the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp: “I have fought in combat zones around the world including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Macedonia and Iraq. I was also present throughout the conflict in Gaza in 2014. Based on my experience and on my observations, the Israel Defense Forces … does more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

In Gaza, the vulnerability of non-combatants is greatly exacerbated by the malicious actions of their leaders, who cynically exploit them by deliberately placing them in harm’s way and coercively preventing them from seeking safe havens. Thus, as a Wall Street Journal piece underscores, “Israel seeks to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas seeks to maximize civilian casualties and use them as a propaganda tool.”

Israel setting ‘gold standard’ for avoiding civilian casualties

The chairman of urban warfare studies at West Point, John Spencer, described Israel’s achievements in avoiding collateral damage as “unprecedented,” particularly given the complex combat conditions in Gaza above and below ground. According to Spencer, Israel is setting the “gold standard” for avoiding civilian casualties.

Likewise, Kemp praised the IDF for its record of avoiding civilian casualties during its operations in Gaza and pointed out that the average combatant-to-civilian death ratio in Gaza is about 1:1.5, while according to the United Nations, the average combatant-to-civilian death ratio in urban warfare in general is 1:9—six times higher.

The issue of civilian casualties in Gaza is hugely complicated by Hamas’s heinous practice of exploiting medical facilities as a cover for its terror activities. This includes the copiously documented abuse of ambulances for the transportation of terror-related personnel and materiel.

Israeli moderation is underscored by comparison to non-combatant fatalities in other military encounters involving democracies at war. In World War II, nearly 600,000 European civilians were killed by Allied aerial bombardment of German cities that were reduced to rubble and ashes. Moreover, cities in other countries in Nazi-occupied Europe were bombarded—including their non-combatant civilian residents. One of the most grisly and tragic of these events occurred in Copenhagen in March 1945, when the RAF was sent to bomb the Gestapo headquarters in the city. It inadvertently hit a nearby school, killing 123 Danish civilians, including 87 schoolchildren.

Then there were the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—neither of which was ever designated as a military target—of whom between 100,000 to 200,000 were incinerated and irradiated by the U.S. atomic bombings in early August 1945.

“There is always a cost to defeat an evil.”

Half a century later, after hundreds of thousands were killed by American bombing in the Vietnam War, NATO launched a war against Serbia. The NATO campaign consisted of high altitude—and hence far from accurate—bombing raids that regularly hit civilian targets. These targets included residential neighborhoods, old-age homes, hospitals, open-air markets, columns of fleeing refugees, civilian buses, trains on bridges and even a foreign embassy.

When then-NATO spokesman Jamie Shea was pressed on the issue of the significant numbers of civilian casualties, he responded, “There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher.” This is exactly how Israelis feel about the war against Hamas.

These were not the only post-World War II instances of pervasive human suffering caused by large-scale U.S.-led military operations.

More babies died in Iraq than in Hiroshima

After Saddam Hussein’s 1991 takeover of Kuwait, the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on Iraq and dispatched forces to repel the invasion. Even after Hussein was evicted from Kuwait, sanctions and military operations continued. These measures resulted in tremendous suffering for the civilian population. The scale of it can be gauged by a 1996 60 Minutes interview with the late Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and secretary of state under Bill Clinton. Albright was quizzed by the interviewer Leslie Stahl about the ravages the U.S.-led measures wrought on the Iraqi population.

Stahl asked,We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright responded, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.”

Of course, it should be underscored that—unlike Israel’s post-Oct. 7 response to a massacre of its citizens on its sovereign territory—at this (pre-9/11) time, neither the U.S. homeland nor any U.S. resident had been harmed by the Iraqi regime.

‘A tremendous human toll … ’

In 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks in which almost 3,000 people died, a U.S.-led military coalition (in which the U.K. played a prominent role) invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban government and uproot Al-Qaeda. The Oct. 7 massacre was—in proportion to Israel’s population—almost 35 times the toll of the 9/11 atrocity; the equivalent of almost 50,000 U.S. fatalities.

Although reliable figures regarding the toll the war inflicted on the civilian population of Afghanistan and neighboring countries are not easy to obtain, an estimate published by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs states, “The U.S. post-9/11 wars … have taken a tremendous human toll on those countries.” It presents a 2021 assessment that almost 47,000 Afghani civilians were killed, but adds a proviso that “several times … more have been killed as a reverberating effect of the wars,” including through “water loss, sewage and other infrastructural issues, and war-related disease.”

Thousands of civilians hit ‘with little accountability’

U.S. strikes in which indisputably civilian targets were hit are a matter of record. During the 20-year war in Afghanistan, several weddings, parties and processions were struck by drones—inflicting hundreds of fatalities, including women and children. Such strikes took place not only in Afghanistan but in other countries, including neighboring Pakistan and more distant Iraq, Yemen, Libya and even Somalia.

Summing up the consequences of the U.S. strikes, Amnesty International USA stated: “In recent years, we have investigated civilian harm from U.S. air strikes and U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia, and found that thousands of civilians have been killed or seriously injured by U.S. air strikes (both using drones and manned aircraft) with little accountability.”

Finally. the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition—launched on the dubious or at least unsubstantiated allegations that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was producing weapons of mass destruction—wrought untold misery on millions of Iraqi civilians and a death toll upwards of 300,000 non-combatants.

Closing caveat

The current vogue of berating Israel is both unfounded and unfair. Lending this abuse support or sympathy will only serve to fan the flames of today’s smoldering embers of hatred that will eventually engulf those who propagate it.

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