by Melanie Phillips
Here’s yet more information about the war between Hamas and Israel that unaccountably you may not have come across in today’s UK mainstream media. Today’s entries are all for the Hall of Shame, which is getting mighty crowded.
- Channel Four‘s one-way war – and guess who’s the warmonger?
This was followed by a report from Gaza by chief correspondent Alex Thomson, which was all about how the Israelis were killing women and children. After heart-rending footage from the funeral of the children, rockets being fired into Israel were presented as a clearly understandable response instead of what they actually were -- a continuation of the war by Gaza upon Israel which has been going on for years.
There was no attempt to put these casualties in further immediate context by pointing out that, given the 1350 Israeli air strikes, the number of dead was actually extraordinarily low – and that most of these had been terrorists bent on murdering as many Israeli women and children as possible. Instead Thomson gravely opined that, although most Israeli strikes were indeed ‘very, very accurate’, nevertheless the ‘key episodes of six days of violence are all too often played out in the blood of innocent women and children’. All too often? With 1350 air strikes and, out of 100 dead Palestinians, (according to Ha’aretz/IDF estimates yesterday) only 30-50 women and children, ‘all too often’?
It has also turned out that a nest of four Islamic Jihad terrorists had been using the building which housed the media centre in Gaza. The Israelis targeted this nest precisely in this building and killed at least one of them. Thomson was spitting tacks -- not at the fact that the Islamic Jihad terrorists had used the journalists as human shields, good grief no, but at the Israelis for hitting the building twice even though journalists were inside, ‘as Israel knew very well’.
But why were they still inside when Israel had made it crystal clear after its first strike on this building that it was targeting it because it housed terrorists? As Thomson himself said, the Israelis are being ‘very, very accurate’. And Channel Four News is very, very biased.
- Rob Crilly’s obscene ratio
‘Israel has a right to defend itself. But what is a proportionate response to hundreds of missiles falling on its soil? So far in the past week we have seen three Israelis killed by Palestinian rockets. Meanwhile the death toll in Gaza has crept above 90 as Israeli missiles hit Palestinian territory. Three lives for 90? That doesn't seem very proportionate.
‘The media is trying to even things up. While TV pictures from Gaza show tiny body bags and families ripped apart by grief, pictures from Israel show pockmarked apartment blocks and the twisted shrapnel of rockets that crashed harmlessly on wasteland as if the two are equivalent. The success of the Israeli “Iron Dome” means fewer and fewer Palestinian rockets are even able to hit civilian areas, but that hasn't stopped the world’s media reporting on almost each one fired from strawberry patches in the Gaza Strip.’
Because so few Israelis have been killed, he sneers at the rockets fired into Israel as essentially harmless. Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defence, more than 1100 rockets have been fired from Gaza. While many have indeed landed on waste ground, many others have only failed to reach centres of population by being shot down by the Iron Dome defence system. Had they succeeded in landing on Israeli towns and cities, tens or even hundreds of thousands of Israelis might have been killed. The only reason Israeli casualties are so low is because of Iron Dome and the fact that Israelis have been virtually living in air-raid shelters.
What Crilly and others like him are in effect saying is that not enough Israelis have been killed to justify Israel’s military action. This would only be ‘proportionate’, it would appear, if Israeli defences were useless and more Israelis were now lying dead. This argument is no less obscene for being ubiquitous in current British discourse.
As for the other side of Crilly’s equation, the death toll of Palestinian babies and civilians to which we should apparently all be paying attention instead, he fails of course to acknowledge that most of the Palestinians killed were terrorists and that the proportion of civilian dead to terrorists is astoundingly small – some 30-50 out of 100 on yesterday’s figures. Now that’s what I call disproportionate.
- Does Sir Jeremy Greenstock inhabit a different planet?
‘One begins to ask what’s the point of this further round of violence; what’s the point of escalating; what is Israel’s strategy in all of this? And I’m at a loss to explain that at the moment.
‘...I think the use of violence against Gaza is to some extent a deterrent for Hamas. But remember that Hamas has not normally been the instigator of violence against Israel. Since Operation Cast Lead four years ago, they’ve been mainly passive and containing the militants in Gaza. If Israel wins this by invading Gaza and taking out the Hamas leadership, it owns Gaza, which is a tremendous problem for the future. If it doesn’t take out the Hamas leadership, it looks as though it hasn’t won this round. So then options are quite bad for Israel whichever way it goes.
‘...The people in the Palestine territories – they call themselves ‘in prison’ at the moment – they are in despair. They see the world changing around them and nothing changes for them. So there is despair and a lack of hope for the future. The pity about the current violence is that to my mind it is not necessary. I know from my own contacts with Hamas that they are prepared to talk; they want to discuss a truce; they would be prepared for an indefinite truce into the future; Israel does not want to talk to them as terrorists – and their militants are still making the mistake of using violence – but this round of violence is not necessary to take forward the possibilities of a negotiation for the future. People need to talk to each other and there are decisions to be made in that respect and I hope that’s going to happen soon.
‘...There is a complete absence of trust at the moment. [The Hamas] want assurances that it would be possible to set up a separate Palestinian state with the proper instruments for that to have some sort of equality with Israel. They are not fixated, as so many people seem to think, on the destruction of Israel. They know that that is not realistic. They want their own separate state and they are prepared to negotiate for that.
‘... The Israelis and the Palestinians have got to come to some point where they realise that they have got to live together without violence...[The initiative] has got to come from Israel first, because Israel is in physical control in these two territories...’You really do have to rub your eyes at this.
Notice first how for Sir Jeremy, the escalation is entirely down to Israel alone. (And what a loaded word ‘violence’ is, suggesting action that is illegitimate as opposed to ‘air strikes’ or ‘bombing missions’ which are terms associated with legitimate war). No thought that the rockets being fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, let alone the thousands of rockets fired at southern Israel, represent the real escalation – no, Sir Jeremy blames the ‘violence’ and escalation entirely on Israel.
A ground war would be terrible, he says, but retreating without having gone into Gaza on the ground would be seen as a defeat. So Sir Jeremy cannot for the life of him work out why on earth the Israelis have taken military action in Gaza at all. Well, let’s wet our finger and put it up in the air to help him, shall we? Might it just be that Israel, as usual between a rock and a very hard place, had simply no other way to stop the Islamist rockets which can now—as we have seen – reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem?
The Palestinians, says Sir Jeremy, are in despair. Not so at all; I’d say they were actually jubilant. They’ve got western governments to redefine the Palestinians' war of extermination against Israel as a land dispute where Israel is in the wrong. They’ve got the western media to transmit their blood libels about Israeli child-killers and how the Palestinians are the poor persecuted victims of Israel, so that the west stops Israel from defending itself by really coming after them. They’ve got the western intelligentsia to all but delegitimise Israel altogether, having bought their lies hook, line and sinker. So why should they despair? They think they are winning.
They see the world around them changing, laments Sir Jeremy, but nothing changes for them. Of course not – because they will not end their attempt to exterminate Israel. If they were genuinely to stop doing so and decide to live in peace alongside it, they could have their state and live in peace and plenty tomorrow. But they choose instead to wage war.
Ah, says Sir Jeremy but Hamas is not in general ‘the instigator of violence’ – for the last four years it has merely tried to rein in other ‘militants’. Huh? While other Islamist groups are certainly involved in terrorist attacks from Gaza, Hamas -- which controls this rogue terror statelet -- is the principal instigator. Ahmed Jabari, the leader of its military wing who was killed by the Israelis last week, was co-ordinating the rocket attacks as he had countless other terrorist operations against Israel. Sir Jeremy’s bizarre claim is totally mystifying.
Furthermore, he contradicts himself shortly afterwards by claiming that it is important for Israel to talk to the Hamas because Hamas wants a truce. But if Hamas really has not been instigating violence for the past four years, as Sir Jeremy claims, then clearly a truce with it would be totally worthless. In fact Hamas obviously does want a truce -- or hudna as it calls it – because hudna is one of its key war strategies, to give it the time and space to arm itself yet more effectively for its war of extermination against Israel.
Israel and the Palestinians, intones Sir Jeremy, have to realise they must live together without violence. This is really offensive stuff. The Israelis are the victims of Palestinian violence. The Jews of Israel have always been willing to live without violence against the Palestinians. It was first the Jews and then the Israelis who agreed to, and even twice offered, a Palestine state. It is the Palestinians who have always refused this, answering such offers by blowing up Israeli citizens, firing rockets and waging an endless war of extermination, forcing Israelis to live for more than six decades in a state of armed siege.
And so what is Sir Jeremy’s solution? Well, both Israel and Hamas have to talk to each other. And the initiative has to come from Israel because – wait for it -- Israel is ‘in physical control in these two territories’. What on earth is he talking about? Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. If it were still ‘in physical control’ there, you can be sure there would not have been thousands of rocket attacks on Israel.
As for talking to Hamas – about what, exactly? There can be no negotiation with still-active terrorists – such negotiation is actually surrender -- let alone with those committed to genocide whose demands are totally non-negotiable. Ah, says Sir Jeremy, whatever people think Hamas doesn’t really want the destruction of Israel, only a state of Palestine. What? Has he not read the Hamas charter, which commits it to not just the destruction of Israel but the killing of every Jew? Does he not hear or read the never-ending hysterical incitement by Hamas preachers and political figures to murder Jews and Israelis and destroy Israel? Does he not understand that when Hamas talks about ending ‘the occupation’, it means ending Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Israel?
When Israel withdrew from Gaza, the Hamas did not then start building the infrastructure of a state but instead turned Gaza into a giant munitions factory, rocket launcher site and nerve centre of mass murder. The key fact that Sir Jeremy and his ilk in the British establishment refuse to acknowledge is that the Arab and Muslim war against Israel is not about a division of the land, but about a religious imperative to expel every Jew from that land.
This afternoon, two rockets from Gaza slammed into waste ground between Palestinian villages near Bethlehem; no-one was hurt, but the Palestinians are even prepared to murder their own people in this cause on the grounds that they can then become ‘martyrs’—the highest calling in a cult that loves death rather than life. In other words, the driving cause of this onslaught is religious fanaticism which has zero purchase on rationality -- except when it comes to manipulating people like Sir Jeremy Greenstock.
The single most important reason why there is no end to the Middle East dispute is that the so-called civilised world has called it wrong in just about every important respect. As a result, it has empowered genocidal fanatics and dumped on their victims. It is people like Sir Jeremy Greenstock, therefore, who must bear much responsibility for the permanence of the Middle East impasse. Far from putting forward a solution, he is very much part of the problem.
Sir Jeremy talks of the despair of the Palestinians; but what about the despair of the Israelis, condemned to live in a state of permanent siege (regardless of any imminent cease-fire in Gaza) as a result of the indifference, arrogance, prejudice, short-sightedness and sheer bone-headed ignorance and stupidity of the British and western ruling class?
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