December 13, 2018

Dark Truths About Israel’s Neighborhood

People pray at the Western Wall on Jan. 12. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

This week, the government of Saudi Arabia came under heavy, justified fire for its apparent murder of a Saudi citizen living in the United States, Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a critic of the current Saudi regime; he went to the Saudi consulate in Turkey in order to receive paperwork for a marriage license. He never emerged, according to the Turkish government. Allegedly, a Saudi team killed him, chopped him up and spirited his body out of the embassy.

Meanwhile, Turkey, the country dumping the information about Saudi Arabia, finally released an American pastor after two years in custody. The current Turkish regime is led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a fervent Islamist close to the mullahs in Iran. In recent years, Erdogan has dismissed, detained, or suspended nearly 200,000 government workers suspected of not being loyal to him. His thugs beat up protesters on American soil last year, and Erdogan has long sought to arrest and jail dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States.

Just to Turkey’s south, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad continues his longstanding destruction of the Syrian people, with the help of both the Iranian and Russian regimes. Hundreds of thousands of dead Syrians, the complete destruction of large cities, the targeting of civilians with weapons of mass destruction — Assad has all of that and more on his hands.

Moving east from Syria, we enter Iraq — a country which, in the aftermath of the U.S. defeat of ISIS, has actually been moving toward progress. The truth is that thanks to American patronage, Iraq has begun to stabilize. Still, the country contains deep sectarian divides between Sunni, Shia and Kurds. Iraq is a story of progress, and progress is tentative.

“It takes a unique level of moral perversity to equate Israel’s government and principles to those of its neighbors.”

Moving west from Syria, the situation becomes far more grim. Lebanon is now in the middle of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the Shiite terror group Hezbollah battling it out with both Christian and Sunni parties. Hezbollah currently has the upper hand, and has been rearmed in the south of the country with Iranian weaponry. 

Iran continues to spread its regional sway in the aftermath of former President Barack Obama’s attempts to rectify relations with the mullahs. Iran’s growing power continues to manifest from Afghanistan to Lebanon, and now Iran is in the midst of a brutal and bloody proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen as well. Iran’s economy continues to stagnate, leading to serious and extended protests throughout the country, but the Islamic theocracy continues to stifle the freedom of its citizens.

Iran continues its support of the Palestinian government, which is dominated by terror groups ranging from the Palestinian Authority to Hamas to Islamic Jihad. There have been no serious efforts toward moderation or peace by the Palestinian government, and terror continues to blossom in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad mobilize tens of thousands of people at the border, creating havoc necessary to provide cover for terrorists to storm the fence with Israel.

These are Israel’s neighbors. It’s important to note that simple fact when reading the outsized outrage often focused at Israel in the world press, which routinely declares Israel the great human rights violator in the region, and the instigator of violence in the world. Israel isn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. But it takes a unique level of moral perversity to equate Israel’s government and principles to those of its neighbors — or to forget that the area in which Israel operates remains one of the most backward places on the planet.


Ben Shapiro is editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire, host of the podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show” and author of The New York Times best-seller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear Silences Americans.”