Bloomberg’s Outlook Is Stern on Israel and Hamas
By Michael Barbaro
“Check the facts,” an exasperated Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told a CNN anchor who interviewed him over the weekend.
“There is no such thing as a moderate response to terrorism,” he said, angrily interrupting a reporter, during a news conference in New York City on New Year’s Eve.
“All Hamas has to do is stop sending rockets over to kill people,” he declared to a reporter for Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, on Sunday.
Before and during his trip to Israel, Mr. Bloomberg did not just defend the country’s right to retaliate against Hamas’s missile attacks — he forcefully, at times emotionally, rejected the idea that its military response was in any way out of proportion with the Palestinians’ tactics.
At one point, he called the very concept of a proportional Israeli response to Hamas “ridiculous.”
“Proportionalism is for theoreticians,” he told the CNN anchor. “The real world is that government has a responsibility to protect their citizens with everything they can.”
Mr. Bloomberg, who has traveled to Israel frequently as mayor, repeatedly drew parallels to the United States, saying that Americans would expect a similar response if a foreign government lobbed bombs over American borders.
The message could not be any clearer: blame for the escalating military conflict rested with Hamas, which the mayor called “a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran.”
When asked, on CNN, about criticism of the Israeli military response, he said:
Well, let me just phrase it for you something that’ll bring it home. If you’re in your apartment, and some emotionally disturbed person is banging on your door, screaming, ‘I am going to come through this door and kill you,’ do you want us to respond with one police officer, which is proportional, or with all the resources at our command? Just think about it in that context. There is no so such thing as a proportional response to terrorism. This is not something we are playing by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. People’s lives are at risk.
(For the uninitiated, the Marquis of Queensbury rules are a set of strict tit-for–tat guidelines sometimes used in the boxing ring.)
During the same CNN interview, Mr. Bloomberg lamented what he said was Hamas’s habit of surrounding its missile installations with civilians, thereby endangering the lives of civilians when Israel retaliated:
It’s the ultimate cowardice to launch your attacks with humans as shields or around you … it’s one of the oldest, sick things that terrorists do. They take civilians, they surround themselves with civilians, and they reach over their heads to attack you, and if you defend yourself by attacking back, the civilians get in the way, and they go, ‘Oh, look, you are killing civilians.’
At the end of the interview, the mayor was asked what would bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians.
“I don’t work for the State Department or for the military, for American or for Israel,” he said. “But the first ways you do it, is to stop lobbing rockets and killing innocent people.”