Last week, as most of us turned our thoughts to Thanksgiving, the tyrants ruling North Korea turned their focus to violence. The North Koreans fired over 100 missiles at a small South Korean island just across its border. The island’s 1,200 inhabitants were forced into bomb shelters and later fled the island entirely. Two South Korean marines were killed, and 18 more people were injured.
This attack was unprovoked and unjustified. And it was quickly and unequivocally condemned by the United Nations, the European Union and the rest of the international community. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the missile fire “one of the greatest incidents since the end of the Korean War.” President Obama expressed his “outrage” at the attack, and strongly affirmed the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea. United States ships and troops were dispatched to conduct joint military exercises with the South Koreans.
This response to North Korea’s aggression was necessary and appropriate. And it also dwarfed — by large multiples — the world’s reaction to aggression against another free society: Israel. The Jewish State has been subject to far greater attacks, for far longer, with far greater casualties – and all with far less international outrage.
The attacks on Israel have created not merely one terrible hour, but many terrible years. These attacks have not involved the firing of a hundred missiles into Israeli cities, but the firing of many thousands of missiles. This aggression has not killed and injured tens of people, but thousands. Yet the world has responded with a muted, confused critique that often blames the victim and excuses the aggressor.
This disparate treatment is nothing new. When five Arab armies rejected the United Nations partition of Palestine and tried to destroy the Jewish State in 1948, neither the United Nations nor the United States lifted a finger to defend Israel. On the contrary, the United States and almost every other nation in the world refused to even sell arms to Israel. Yet when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, the United Nations and the United States not only condemned the attack – they sent hundreds of thousands of troops to repel it. Over the course of the Korean War a total of 36,516 American soldiers were killed and another 92,134 were wounded. To this day, thousands of American soldiers are stationed in Korea manning a dangerous wall in defense of our South Korean ally.
There could be perfectly rational reasons for this difference of treatment. It could be that East Asia is of greater strategic significance to the United States than the Middle East. Yet as recent events demonstrate, a Middle East which is the source of so much of the world’s oil and terrorists is of equal if not greater strategic value than the Korean peninsula. It could be that South Korea shares a special relationship with the United States. Yet it is difficult to imagine a society that better reflects American values and culture than Israel. Yes, a conflict involving a nuclear North Korea has the potential to escalate into a massive war. But, as Israel has been trying so hard to remind the world, so too does a Middle East conflict with an almost nuclear Iran.
There is one major difference between Israel and so many of our other allies that may contribute to these different perceptions. Israel has never asked for America to fight her battles. Israel has never expected American boys to die in her defense. The Israelis send their own sons and daughters to risk their lives – and give their lives – in defense of their tiny country.
All the Israelis have ever asked is that the blood of their children matter to us as much as that of anyone else. All Israel has ever wanted is to be treated the same as every other nation. Indeed, this was the very simple goal of the Zionist movement since its first days: to create the conditions under which the Jewish people could become a nation like every other.
The day that the world responds to the shelling of an Israel city the same way it has responded to the shelling of a Korean city is the day that the Zionist dream will finally, belatedly, be realized. By all accounts, we are a long way from that day. While the world can abide such a double standard, we friends of Israel dare not. Perhaps this – more than anything else – is what makes us Zionists. It’s not that we see Israel’s Jews as the Chosen People. It’s simply that we see them as people.
David Brog is the executive director of Christians United for Israel and author of a new book, In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity. You can follow David on Facebook by clicking here and on Twitter by clicking here.