by Melanie Phillips
In Israel, an enormous call-up of reservists suggests that a ground invasion of Gaza is imminent – and this morning’s further attacks on Tel Aviv make that more likely still. The prospect of a ground invasion fills Israelis with dread. A ground invasion means that Israeli soldiers will go into Gaza street by street and house by house to destroy the rocket launchers, rockets and ammunition dumps where they have been stored. Many have been situated in residential neighbourhoods, for two reasons: first, to deter the Israel Defence Force from attacking them for fear of killing civilians as a consequence; and second, to ensure that many Gazan civilians are indeed killed, thus guaranteeing an international outcry so that Israel will be forced to stop its operation to destroy these weapons.
Such a ground operation, where from past experience many of these places have been booby-trapped, carry the certainty of a high casualty rate among the Israeli soldiers.
That is why Israel today waits in dread. People in Britain and elsewhere who have the luxury of living in a country that has not been under existential attack for six decades have absolutely no idea of the extraordinary pressure under which so many Israeli families live. Their children are conscripted into the armed forces because Israel is under permanent threat of attack by an Arab and Muslim world which is determined to wipe Israel off the map.
And so these young Israelis are sent to fight and some of them -- maybe many of them -- will die, in a country where every such life that is lost is a national tragedy because the Jewish people was almost wiped out half a century ago, and their families will be torn apart – all because millions of murderous fanatics who believe the Jews must not be allowed to live in their own historic homeland continue to try to destroy that homeland and murder as many Jews as possible. And many more of Israel’s children will die if the Israel Defence Force starts a ground war in Gaza. Yet Israelis also know that if the rockets and missiles from Gaza are to stop, a ground war may be the only way to destroy these weapons since there is a limit to what can be achieved by aerial bombardment.
This is the kind of rock and very hard place indeed dilemma under which Israelis live week in, week out – and have done for more than sixty years, all because a bunch of fanatics are bent on their annihilation. Yet none of this is acknowledged by those in Britain, whose hearts bleed for the Palestinians who are the aggressors in this conflict but never for the Israelis who are their victims – and whose motives in mounting such a military operation must therefore be assumed to be malevolent or evil.
Among western leaders, the hypocrisy is particularly odious. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, who has been saying Israel has the right to defend itself against attack, nevertheless also says :
‘Israel does have to bear in mind that it is when ground invasions have taken place in previous conflicts that they have lost international support and a great deal of sympathy around the world.’
In the US similarly there are reports that Obama is telling Israel not to mount a ground invasion –because the likely toll of civilian casualties would benefit Hamas. So according to these leaders, Israel absolutely has the right to defend itself -- but not actually to take the action that will defeat its attackers! And just whose international support might Israel lose by such a casualty toll? Why, the support of leaders like Hague and Obama! What hypocrisy, furthermore, from those who have been bombing the living daylights out of Afghanistan but impose a totally different standard on Israel.
Of course, no-one in Israel imagines that even the most successful operation in Gaza will defeat the Hamas. The most they hope for is to degrade its capabilities for mass murder so that Israelis can have a few years free of attack before they have to do the same thing all over again.
The reason why this conflict goes on and on in this interminable way, leaving Israel in a state of permanent siege, is quite simple. It is that the so-called civilised world, for all its empty pledges of support for Israel, actually leaves it to swing in the wind.
It persists in casting the conflict entirely falsely as a fight over land boundaries. It totally ignores the Judeophobic incitement to hatred and murder of Israelis with which the Palestinians indoctrinate their children; it totally ignores the Nazi-style (and yes , it is straight from the Nazi lexicon) deranged racist demonisation of the Jews as cosmically evil people responsible for all the ills in the world and controlling everything that moves in the west; it totally ignores the statements made even by so-called moderates such as Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish state, thus committing them to permanent war against it; it totally ignores the fact that this is a religious war against the Jews (read the Hamas Charter); it totally ignores the gross inversion and misrepresentation of history by which the Arabs have concealed the fact that it is only the Jewish people for whom Israel was ever their national homeland.
Instead it ludicrously blames Israel for the impasse because of the ‘settlements’, thus taking demonstrably absurd Arab propaganda at face value; states that the Palestinians ‘deserve’ a state of their own (since when did racist aggressors deserve anything at all?); and insists that Israel must negotiate with the Palestinians to arrive at a solution (with increasing voices urging it to negotiate even with the Hamas). But the only solution that can be negotiated with fanatics committed to the eradication of a country is a final one.
In order to arrive at a solution, it is essential first to identify the problem correctly. The problem here is not, as Britain, the US and Europe insist, a conflict between two equal claims to land, two peoples with equal rights to that land, two peoples with an equal moral case. The problem is the implacable, nine-decade attempt by the Arab and Muslim world to remove the Jews by force from their own country and historic homeland. The reason this problem has not been solved – the overriding reason – is that from the very first Arab pogrom in the 1920s against the returning Jews of Palestine, the so-called civilised world led by Britain has rewarded the belligerents and punished their victims.
The only way a solution to this terrible conflict will ever be achieved is if America, Britain and Europe start calling this war of annihilation against Israel for what it actually is and instead of treating the Palestinian aggressors as putative statesmen, start treating them appropriately as global pariahs.
Meanwhile, clearly horrified by the support for Israel that has so far been shown by western leaders who have had the temerity to condemn the Hamas as the aggressor, UK broadcasters have been attempting to remedy this by showing footage of child victims of heartless Israelis bombing Gaza -- rather than presenting them, as they actually are, as the hapless victims of brutal and cynical Palestinians who are deliberately using children and other civilians as human shields.
For sure there are civilian casualties in Gaza, including children, which is awful; but Hamas are still up to their Pallywood tricks, as this example reported in Tablet shows -- a picture of a distraught father holding a dead child which the Hamas claimed was taken in Gaza but was actually taken in Syria during the fighting there.
And then of course there was this unspeakable cartoon by Steve Bell in the Guardian, presenting Israel’s Prime Minister as a puppet-master pulling the strings of Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague and former Prime Minister Tony Blair – simply because they correctly condemned Hamas as the aggressor!! – thus echoing, as many horrified people have been pointing out, the defining trope of ancient Jew-hatred depicting the Jews as sinister puppeteers controlling world events in their own interests. Arguably even worse in this vile carton was the depiction of Netanyahu surrounded by phalanxes of bombs formed out of the Israeli flag under the rubric ‘Vote Likud’ -- thus suggesting that Israel’s Prime Minister is some kind of murderous psychotic who is bombing Gaza to in order to win the forthcoming Israeli general election.
The ludicrous extent to which the left is going to deny the blindingly obvious, which is that Israel is taking military action in response to thousands of rockets and missiles bombarding its population as any other country would do, in order to impute some kind of cosmic malice to Netanyahu by constructing scenarios which are totally out to lunch, suggests that any psychosis is rather to be found amongst such people when it comes to attitudes towards the State of Israel.
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