Allahpundit brought you the highlights this week of Joe Scarborough’s comments regarding the ongoing battles in the Gaza Strip, paying particular attention to his description of some of Israel’s actions as “asinine.” Well, not only did the comments section here go wild, but it was a repeated theme in conservative bastions across the web. As it turns out, Joe didn’t take kindly to the reaction and used his platform on Friday morning to clarify things a bit and take his critics to task.
“I didn’t expect the usual suspects to have the intellectual capacity to actually grasp a statement that didn’t neatly line up with their political punchlist for the do’s and don’ts of mindless political posturing,” the former Republican congressman said on air Friday. “So let me start with simple talk that even simpleminded people can understand.”
Scarborough went on to say that while the U.S. must stand with its close ally Israel and that Hamas is a terrorist organization, the large number of Palestinian civilian deaths are hurting the Israeli cause.
“The prolonged killing of children and women in Palestinian territories will only serve to weaken Israel and strengthen Hamas,” he said.
Let’s go to the video since it’s not all that long.
When I decided to write about this, I contacted Scarborough and asked him if he’d care to elaborate on this for Hot Air’s readers. This was his response.
As an unapologetic champion of Israel, I have always said that Hamas is a terror group that has to be destroyed or negotiated with. That’s because the Palestinian Authority has always been too weak to make peace with Israel unless they dragged Hamas along.
The terrorist organization’s recent troubles at home and its isolation abroad forced Hamas to strike a desperate alliance with the PA. Hamas’ falling fortunes also presented an opening for a lasting peace deal with Israel. But every dead child and woman that is pulled from the rubble of a Gaza school, hospital, or public market only Hamas stronger and a lasting peace deal more unlikely. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a stronger Hamas is bad for Gaza, bad for Israel, and bad for the United States.
None of this is particularly shocking in terms of analysis of the Mideast conflict, though it always draws immediate and harsh responses in conservative circles. Believe me, since the latest round of fighting has broken out I’ve watched endless examples of these arguments overwhelming my Twitter timeline each and ever day. One of the chief stumbling blocks seems to be that it’s a given – and a fact – that Israel is our longest standing and strongest ally in the region, if not our only one in reality. But Israel is a nation with a government run by people like all the rest of the states on Earth. They face unique and deadly challenges which few, if any other countries have to deal with and do so on a daily basis. In light of that, they won’t always be perfect and will, from time to time, make controversial decisions which even their staunchest supporters won’t agree on. When you combine those facts together you have the recipe for a firestorm any time anyone says anything even remotely critical of their government, leading to immediate claims that the speaker must be a pro-Hamas, terrorist loving, double secret jihadist.
I’m not thrilled with the way things are unfolding right now, and frankly, the entire situation is a depressing, hot mess. I might be a bit more critical of some of Israel’s actions myself this summer if I could come up with a single, more productive suggestion for what they should be doing differently. But as I wrote last week, it’s difficult to see what benefit there is for the Israeli government to pursue a more restrained path at this point. Be that as it may, some of the criticism of what Joe originally said seems to be a bit over the top. Maybe it’s because I’m one of only a few people around this joint who watches the show regularly, but I’ve heard Scarborough speak on the subject of Israel and Hamas many times. He’s never shown any sympathy for the terrorists and offers more support to Israel than the majority of folks you’ll hear chatting about it on cable news. I’m guessing the difference between us on this question is that Joe is a lot more optimistic about the possible demise of Hamas than I am.
I don’t know if his prediction about how much this hurts Israel or helps Hamas in the long run is true, but it clearly wasn’t a defense of Hamas. And not everyone who offers a negative critique of any given Israeli policy is suddenly an anti-Semite or a terrorist apologist. And with that, I’ll go slip on my asbestos boxer shorts.