Only Volunteers

June, 11 2010

By Lauren Bottner

It’s easier to place blame and side with the appointed victims, easier to live in a black and white world where we stay within the lines.  But what happens if there are no victims, only volunteers? How do you know where to stand when enemies don masks of goodness and terror shows up with a bouquet of roses?

It would be easy to point at Israel and say ‘How could you? What were you thinking? You are no better than the terrorists you’re trying to keep away!’  It would be easy to stick with my black and white set of rules and condemn from afar.  And I would be in good company, backed by much of the world. But I would be wrong.

Yes, death is always a tragedy and yes, I’d bet that there were intelligence failures on the part of the Israelis.  But please can we zoom out and look at the entire picture?

Imagine the ships headed toward Ellis Island, packed with supposed ‘peace activists’ who belong to a known terrorist support group.  Picture the ships loaded with supplies for terrorist cells tucked within our borders.  Are we really claiming that we would smile and wave to the passengers from the shorelines, and allow their cargo to pass into our country without investigating?  I can’t board a plane without having my shoes x-rayed, and I’m a citizen.  Who are we kidding? Why do we blame Israel for protecting with force while we breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t at our shores? Why the double standard? Israel never seems to be the underdog we root for.  Why? Is it because they stand proudly and refuse to accept pity? Is it because they reject the title of victim and take action rather than posturing and discussing while suicide bombers infiltrate and buses explode in the streets?

Victims garner sympathy.  They need protection and are granted the right to lament “Why me?” They can cloak their mistakes in powerlessness and evade responsibility by naming evil.  But we don’t live in a black and white world.  Amidst the gray, all are victims, and all are volunteers.  I can’t know what happened aboard the ships, and without being a witness, I can’t know for sure all of the details.  But it seems that Israel wasn’t out looking for blood.  It seems that the intention was one of monitoring and surveillance, an attempt to maintain policy while still allowing for essential supplies in Gaza.

There’s the story that gets ignored: wounded Israeli soldiers were treated alongside flotilla passengers in an Israeli Hospital. Amidst the roar of worldwide criticism, supplies from the ships were delivered to Gaza, minus the confiscated weapons. Where is the applause?

Daniel Gordis writes, “There’s only one country anywhere on the planet about which there’s a conversation about whether it has a right to exist.”  I think it’s time to change the conversation.  Lets debate safety, analyze policy, and brainstorm freedom tactics.  Let’s admit mistakes and improve methods.  Let’s discuss peace.  But let’s stop holding Israel to an impossible double standard.  Let’s stop pretending we don’t understand the impulse to do whatever is necessary to protect our citizens.  Let’s stop pointing fingers in an effort to squeeze the world into rigid guidelines. Let’s cry for the wounded and mourn lost lives.  But let’s allow Israel to exist without continually having to mount a defense.  Let’s remember the fear and violence that Israelis live with on a regular basis.  Let’s keep in mind that terrorists seldom respond to rationality and compromise is impossible if Jewish extinction is the goal.  Let’s sift through the gray, note the small kindnesses, and work for a better tomorrow.

It’s easier to point fingers and cast blame.  But easier doesn’t mean it’s right.

Lauren Bottner is a writer and licensed therapist. View her writing at

2 thoughts on “Only Volunteers

  1. Vlady says:

    Thank you Lauren for the excellent report. Pro Israel posts are not frequent in the liberal media. It is very important to emphasize that Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is justified because it keeps weapons out of the Palestinian territory and it was only when faced with violence on the flotilla that the soldiers reacted in self-defense.

  2. jamie says:

    brilliantly written and points well made, Lauren.

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