You may be wondering why it has taken me so long to write something on the current conflict in Israel and Gaza. The first reason is that I’ve had the ‘flu’, and I still do, so this will be fairly short. Secondly, I have had a hard time keeping up with all the information and misinformation in the media and social media. However, the fundamental reason I’ve been slow to respond is that I’m not entirely sure it’s worth my effort. Allow me to explain.
I don’t believe in writing for the sake of it. If I have nothing to add to a discussion I’m not going to waste your time asking you to read yet another article. I have more articles of interest cropping up each day than I can actually read. (I have a similar problem with books – literal piles I want to read but probably never will.) So, I’m going to put a reading/watching list at the bottom of this so that you can pick and choose what is of most interest to you on this topic. There have been some fabulous articles written in the last couple of weeks while I’ve been down with the ‘flu’ and I am grateful to those writers for speaking out, sharing their viewpoints, and countering the propaganda most of the world is gobbling up with glee.
The other reason I’ve hesitated to write is the intractable mindset of most people on this topic. People who were the first to condemn moral equivalence in Bosnia are now talking about both sides being guilty. People who were aghast at Croatian and Bosnian civilians being shelled day in and day out by the Serbs are now suggesting Israel should just put up with a bombardment greater in proportions than the London Blitz. People who would never accept suicide bombings and missiles raining down in their own cities are telling the victims of terrorism that they must implement an unconditional ceasefire even though Israel has accepted and implemented five ceasefires, all of which were broken (oddly enough) by the Hamas terrorists. Rationality doesn’t seem to have much of a place anymore, and what I do say is no doubt preaching to the converted.
So allow me a few personal observations, seeing as so many people seem to value perceptions and feelings over morality and common sense.
Some things are a matter of debate. How to solve the ‘Middle East conflict’, for example. I don’t know the answer, so I’m fairly open to suggestions. Really. I have not made up my mind on this topic. (Though, I have no say in the matter, so I suggest you address any of yours ‘answers’ elsewhere.) Some things that are part and parcel of this topic, however, are not a matter of debate. (No, I’m not a relativist.) One is that Israel has a right to exist. Another is that Hamas is a bunch of terrorists. In all the brouhaha, these two central facts seem to have been forgotten. You can be pro-Palestinian without being pro-Hamas. You can love the Palestinian people and want the best for them and still support Israel – in fact, if you have any sense, you may realise that Israel is the best chance most Palestinian children will ever have of growing up in a democratic and multicultural society.
Those who think they know better (than everyone else), of course, tend to disagree. They don’t even bother with discussion or debate any more. They just dismiss anyone who isn’t anti-Semitic as a Zionist. They’re not quite as crude as the demonstrators calling for a Palestine “from the river to the sea” and who attack Jewish businesses and chant “gas the Jews”, but it amounts to much the same thing. It’s funny how being anti-Israel is supposedly not anti-Semitic, but wanting Israel to exist and flourish as a nation is Zionist. I want Australia to continue to exist and flourish too. What does that make me? Is that wrong too?
The bottom line is that if you want a Palestine “from the river to the sea” you’re calling for the extermination of Israel. And if you think Hamas terrorists are freedom fighters, you’re advocating the freedom to murder and terrorise. Israel has bent over backwards to accommodate a two-state solution. The Palestinians have rejected every opportunity. Gaza is a case in point. Israel made it Judenfrei and handed it over to the Palestinians in exchange for peace. What sort of peace has Hamas given them in exchange? Suicide bombings, missiles, and terror tunnels.
You may say that I’m just as entrenched in my position as the next person. If by that you mean I refuse to accept a world in which Israel does not exist, you’re quite right. If that makes me a Zionist, so be it. I never thought that basic humanity could be so controversial. And, for the sake of balance, let me say that I also yearn for a world in which Arabs/Muslims and Jews live amicably side by side, a world in which Israel has no need to use weapons of war. But I know that’s never going to happen with Hamas calling the shots, and unless ordinary people like you and me (as well as our leaders and journalists) stop giving Hamas this false legitimacy the situation is not going to improve, for Israelis or Palestinians. We need to call a terrorist a terrorist. They are not freedom fighters. They are base murderers killing Palestinians and Israelis alike.
There’s a much a bigger problem than Gaza at the moment, and that problem is us.
So, choose your words carefully next time you chat with someone on this topic. Did Israel “resume its offensive” or did Israel respond to yet another breach of a ceasefire, yet another attack on Israeli civilians? When you mention Israel blew up a hospital in Gaza, don’t forget to mention that Hamas was firing at Israel from that hospital and that Israel confirmed with the hospital director that there were no staff or patients inside and that he had locked all the doors. And when the news reports an Israeli strike, ask yourself whether perhaps Hamas misfired a rocket yet again. (Hamas managed to hit a hospital and refugee camp yesterday, but no mention of that in the media – no, it was reported as an Israeli attack on a kindergarten. Likewise, Israel has been vociferously blamed for the deaths of fifteen civilians in an UNRWA school yard, even though the single shell landed in an empty yard.)
We don’t live in Nazi Germany. I, for one, live in a rather tranquil part of the world. Yet, even here in the Antipodes, I (a gentile) have felt the hatred.
* * *
This is a random (and far from exhaustive) list of articles I’ve appreciated in the last couple of weeks, an antidote to the mostly dishonest reporting of the mainstream media.
And, finally, a hauntingly beautiful song for peace, because we must live in hope and not despair: Shalom Aleichem