Latest update: October 15th, 2013
Even by the standards of the British chattering classes, the reaction to the crisis in Gaza defies belief. Malevolent lies have mutated into a pathological departure from reality.
Let us remind ourselves of the context. Israel was condemned for its occupation of Gaza, which was said to be creating “despair” and “frustration” that was causing violence against Israel. Israel withdrew from Gaza. From the day it withdrew, the Palestinians started firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. These rockets have caused some fatalities and injuries. More than 1,000 have been fired since the withdrawal. Then two rockets hit Ashkelon, one hitting a school playground which just happened to be empty. As Haaretz writer Ze’ev Schiff has observed, this constituted “an unequivocal invitation by Hamas to war.”
Virtually none of these attacks has been reported in Britain.
The Palestinians have been smuggling into Gaza a vast arsenal of weaponry and have been tunneling into Israel. If they haven’t got it already, it is only a matter of time before they get chemical or biological material with which to arm these weapons still further. For the Palestinians, withdrawal from Gaza has provided the opportunity to ratchet up their war against Israel. So much was always entirely predictable (including to people like myself, who supported withdrawal as the lesser of two terrible evils).
Since Israel no longer occupied Gaza, it should have been plain – to those who didn’t believe it previously – from these post-withdrawal attacks that the Palestinians’ war was not one of liberation but of extermination (as they had so helpfully announced in both the Palestinian national charter and the Hamas charter).
Virtually none of this has been reported in Britain.
It was only with the tunnel raid on Israel, the killing of the Israeli soldiers, the kidnapping of Corporal Shalit and the subsequent murder of an Israeli teenager on the West Bank that Israel finally responded. It had taken months for it to do so. And so how did it respond? It destroyed two bridges and a power station – and the British media immediately screamed that these were war crimes and “collective punishment,” even though virtually no Palestinians at that stage had been killed.
Then the fighting escalated and so did the casualties. Such is the inevitable price of a war declared upon Israel. Such civilians who are regrettably killed become casualties because the men of terror position themselves among them, thus effectively using the Palestinian population as human shields.
This is not reported in the British media. Instead, Israel’s self-defense – and its palpable difficulty caused by the fact that it is virtually impossible to defend itself without civilian casualties because Hamas has turned Palestinian civil society into the base camp for war – is presented, monstrously, as illegitimate aggression. In the July 6 Guardian, the ineffable Jonathan Steele complains that the “siege of Gaza” “violates the principle of proportionality”:
The Palestinians kill two soldiers and take one prisoner and, in response, power stations are blown up, sewage and water systems grind to a halt, bridges are destroyed, sonic booms terrify children day and night, and all this is inflicted on a hungry people who are under siege in what is effectively a huge open prison.
An “open prison”? Gaza has an open border with Egypt. “Children terrified”? Not a word from Steele about the Israeli children who are traumatized because they are under permanent rocket bombardment from Gaza. “A hungry people”? If they can smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza, how come they don’t they have food? They’re not too hungry to fire rockets at Israeli schools and wage war upon Israel simply because it commits the crime of continuing to exist. The venom of Steele’s warped analysis is simply breathtaking:
Whether the ultimate agenda is to starve all Palestinians into fleeing to Egypt, Jordan and even further afield, or merely to keep Gaza as a prison of the unemployed and the West Bank as a bunch of Bantustans, Israeli policy mocks every UN resolution on the conflict.
Thus he turns Israel, for attempting to defend itself and the lives of its citizens against people committed to an explicitly genocidal project, into a savage and tyrannical aggressor. But such twisted thinking is as nothing compared to Jewish self-loathing. Steele draws upon a truly disgusting piece in Haaretz by Gideon Levy who wrote:
It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria’s airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament. A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization.
What Levy was effectively saying was that it was not legitimate for Israel to defend itself. To do so is apparently “terrorism.” He and Haaretz have thus (and not for the first time) handed a potent weapon to those who would wish to see Levy’s homeland destroyed. A similarly despicable role is being played by certain British Jews on the left. In the Times of July 6, hundreds of British Jews signed a stomach-turning full-page advertisement in which – also drawing on Gideon Levy’s article – they said:
We watch with horror the collective punishment of the people of Gaza.
Note, these Jews don’t watch with horror the collective punishment, through mass murder and rocket attacks, meted out by the Palestinians to Israel for the past half century for the crime of existing at all. No, they watch with horror – and proceed to vilify – Israel’s attempt to defend itself, which in their distorted minds becomes insteadusing its enormously superior military might to terrorise an entire people.
So the human bomb attacks, the rocket bombardment, the declarations of war and genocidal intentions by which Israel is terrorized by the Palestinians are ignored. Israel, the supreme victim of systematic exterminatory terror, is thus depicted as terrorizing its tormentors – simply because it seeks to defend itself.
The signatories repeat Levy’s distorted allegation of Israel’s “regular snatching of Palestinians from their homes.” This appears to be a reference to Israel’s arrest of various Hamas terrorists who are members of what is laughably called the Palestinian “government” – more accurately, a terrorist organization which has been elected by the people to carry out its declared intention of murdering as many Jews as possible.
Arresting people for terrorist crimes is thus, in the parallel moral universe of Gideon Levy and the Times signatories, itself “terrorism.” Arrests under the rule of law are represented instead as “kidnaps.” These people are not stupid – among the signatories are people prominent in Britain’s cultural landscape – but this is moral imbecility.
Collective punishment? Collective self-hatred, more like.
Gaza is a crisis for Israel. The Times advertisement is a crisis for British Jewry.Melanie Phillips
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