Friday 26 December 2014

Carol Hunt: Killing children is always wrong, so why do we blame Israel more?

Our insistence on holding Israel to a higher set of standards than we do her neighbours is anti-Semitic, writes Carol Hunt

Published 27/07/2014 | 02:30

Who can argue against the evidence of dead children? Who can watch four little boys playing soccer on a beach mown down, shrug and say, "well, all fair in wartime"?

Few can. Very, very few. Yesterday, my skinny, tanned, happy little 10-year-old played football with his friends in the street beside our house. He saw some of the evening news on Gaza, complained of a tummy ache and I insisted on staying the night beside him. As I watched his little chest rise and fall, I wondered how on earth the parents of those four beautiful boys - and so many more - could ever come to terms with their loss. And then there are the 9,092 children who have been killed so far in the nearby Syrian civil war and the 2,072 Palestinians also recently killed there. Where are the marches and protests for them? What is the difference between them and their Gazan victims? "Israel" would seem to be the answer.

We in the West hold Israel to a higher standard than we do her neighbours. Israel should know better, we say. Does this mean we hold her Arab neighbours to a lesser standard? Is this not basic racism? But Israel is the Goliath to Palestine's David, we insist. And in a narrow sense this is true. Yet in the broader sense Israel - smaller than Leinster - is a tiny Jewish, yet secular, democracy in a sea of warmongering, and increasingly dangerously anti-Semitic (and Christian) enemies. Israel is not the arrogant monolith we believe it to be, though it must try to give that impression in order to survive.

As Israeli novelist Amos Oz noted in Dublin recently, Jewish Israel is still a "refugee camp" - where millions who fled from persecution in Europe or were expelled from Islamic countries live in daily fear of their neighbours.

Gaza also is a refugee camp, an open-air horror of desperation, fear and poverty and a breeding ground for terrorists and fundamentalism. There are no good guys here - just dead children and terrified, traumatised civilians. And yet last week, our new foreign minister Charlie Flanagan was roundly excoriated for abstaining from a UN resolution to solely investigate Israel's military actions. In doing so, he was in line with our European neighbours, including the UK, France and Germany. Flanagan said: 
". . . we had problems with the text, we wanted it to include all violent acts on all sides, including Hamas and other militant groups in the region". And yet the consensus from the chattering classes in Ireland was that Israel, and only Israel, be investigated.

When Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke to the UN last Wednesday, she condemned both Israel and Hamas for their actions, accusing both of indiscriminate attacks against civilians. The difference in death tolls? As Jon Snow said last week, it's the fact that "Hamas's random human targets are protected by America's brilliant Iron Dome shield". Bluntly, Israel is better at protecting its citizens. "Why doesn't the US buy a similar shield for Gaza?" Snow asked. Well, I suspect that wouldn't suit the PR battle Hamas is currently waging - and winning. Even if they are committing war crimes by hiding arms and terrorists in schools and hospitals, they know the liberal West will still blame Israel for all deaths. Every dead body is a win for Hamas. It's a strike against Israel's "disproportionate response" to Hamas' aim, which is to wipe every Jew off the face of the earth. In short, Hamas want another Jewish Holocaust.

But if the evidence of that is right under our noses, why do so many want to believe that Hamas is some sort of Middle Eastern Freedom Fighting Force, dedicated to bringing its people out of misery and degradation? Any self-respecting liberal, feminist or human rights supporter should run screaming from their tenets. Hamas was "elected" in 2006. Since then they have intimidated, terrorised and pauperised the people of Gaza.

In April, the (illegal) Gazan parliament announced that it was replacing the 1936 criminal code with Sharia Law -this includes honour killings, female genital mutilation, the stoning of adulterers, the imprisonment of LGBT people and the beating and lashing of women who dress immodestly or refuse to act like the inferior beings Hamas's ideology tells them that they are.

We don't want to believe this of course, in much the same way as civilised Europeans in the 1930s didn't want to believe that Hitler meant every word he wrote in Mein Kampf. Instead, we blame the Jews. Or the Israelis if we insist we're not anti-Semitic. Currently the hashtag #HitlerWasRight is trending on Twitter. I have seen what I would call ordinary decent Irish people write slogans like "Zionist Filth" on Facebook. All over Europe, anti-Semitic attacks have increased horrifically since the current war in Gaza began - because paranoid Israel is not reacting to the threats against her "proportionately".

Dan Hodges (ex UK Labour party and GMB trade official) wrote last week that Israel's critics don't want a proportionate response in Gaza. They want no response at all".

He asks reasonably, "what do you think the death toll would be if Hamas had Israel's military capability - including its nuclear capability? Because I think in those circumstances we would see with horrifying clarity what a disproportionate use of military force really looks like." Bottom line? What we would see is what Hamas and their supporters and financiers want: the annihilation of Israel.

Amos Oz believes the only solution for Israel and Palestine to live peacefully is the oft proffered two-state-solution. This is a beautiful dream, but one impossible to make reality while Western liberals offer succour to the fundamentalists of Hamas while solely demonising Israel.

Every killing of a child is deeply, morally wrong. But one has to ask: What is the difference between our outrage at the children killed in Gaza and those being killed in Syria? It would be seem to be the people killing them. And if we insist that our disproportionate reaction to those killed by Israel is not anti-Semitic, then what is it?

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