Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, more commonly known as Joe the Plumber, has now gone to Israel as a “war correspondent” for Pajama TV. Joe has said that he wants to present the Israeli side and that he thinks the media is biased against Israel. Unfortunately, Wurzelbacher’s comments and actions hurt Israel far more than they help.
Wurzelbacher has gone to Sderot, an Israeli town which has suffered repeated rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza. Israel points to the repeated attacks on Sderot and neighboring cities as the justification for its current operation in Gaza.
Good arguments exist to support the morality of most of Israel’s recent actions even if one is not sure that Israel's actions are pragmatically useful. Most importantly, Hamas broke the recent truce, and Israel has a right and duty as a sovereign nation to defend its citizens against repeated attacks. I will not go into these issues in detail since they are not the subject of this post.
Wurzelbacher has touched briefly on the strong arguments made by Israel. However, he has attempted to add his own spin and that is where he does damage to the Israeli cause. According to CNN, Wurzelbacher thinks that reporters should not be allowed to report on wars. Wurzelbacher said, “You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, ‘well, look at this atrocity,’ well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.” Let’s rephrase that. Wurzelbacher does not want reporters to report because they will report on atrocities and some of those might not be genuine atrocities or might be explained by extenuating circumstances.
Fortunately, Israel has a stronger case than this. Israel has systematically attempted to minimize civilian casualties in this operation while Hamas has done the exact opposite. Wurzelbacher, demonstrating the classic brilliance of the man on the street, has made an argument that is almost a parody of Israel’s legitimate claims. Without context, I would have thought that Joe's argument was a strawman made by someone trying to portray Israel in a negative light. Israel makes a strong defense of the morality of this war. It doesn’t need Joe the Plumber’s assistance which is doing more damage than help. Joe, please go home.