To remedy the simply awful tragedy of not enough Israelis dying as a result of Hamas rocket attacks, something must be done! Send in NATO, bomb an old people’s home, send in UN inspectors to dismantle the Iron Dome systems! It simply is not fair!
Such would be the twisted logic that the anti-Israeli crowd are peddling at the moment. Supposed moral outrage points to the heavy casualties suffered by Gazans, and asks, ‘Why can’t it be more tragic for Israel, too?’.
When humanitarian ceasefires were finally agreed upon (a disproportionate amount of which were refused or broken by Hamas), anti-Israeli nutbags amongst the Twitterati began indulging themselves in frivolity. Comparative pictures were posted of Israelis returning to beaches, whilst Gazans searched the rubble.
Amidst the retweets and favourites, most tend not to criticize the failure of equivalence: after all, to match like for like would have been to show a photo of a district in Sderot, where the buildings are pockmarked by Hamas rocket fire and the bus shelters double up as bomb shelters. Better still would be to compare it to a funeral of a dead IDF soldier and their grieving family.
The plain truth is, there is no counterfactual that would ever please the anti-Israeli crowd. If Israelis do not die in large numbers, they’ll scream genocide. If Israelis do die, there’ll be smug retorts about chickens coming home to roost, their deaths somehow being justice for supposed Israeli colonialism.
But the rationale behind their moaning implies that defining a ‘just war’ involves both sides taking equal numbers of casualties. This is rot: just because a conflict is disproportionate does not make it unjust. In fact, the Israeli dispute with Hamas actually tells us the exact opposite.
Why is it that so many Gazans die, after all? Sure, we get emotional and dewy-eyed when we see injured Gazan babies, weeping mothers, confused siblings; in a humane sense, we are right to do so. But too much sacrifice of reason to the altar of emotion cannot do. A little reflective space allows us to point the finger at those responsible for the woe of much of Gazan life, and who bears the brunt of responsibility for these people.
Who advocates that Gazans give up their own lives and those of their families to protect terrorists and gangsters? Who keeps their people in poverty because they use every opportunity for trade to smuggle in weapons, rather than food and books? Who uses international foreign aid and UN-funded resources to stockpile weaponry? Who places such weaponry in schools and hospitals, relying on the morality and the expertise of the Israelis who go to their best efforts to avoid hurting innocents, to not attack? And when the IDF call off such attacks, who claims it as their own sick victory?
But this is only a reasonable question, not meant for the realm of discussion. At least, not according to the Hamas Solidarity Campaigns that have plagued capital cities across the West over the last three weeks. For these people, Israelis could die by the thousands, and it would do nothing to lessen the perverse convictions of this crowd.
But it isn’t just a matter of Israel doing well (i.e. Israelis not being dead) that these folks are upset about; there is also the huge issue of all of the other problems in the Middle East for which Israel cannot be blamed. How many of these Socialist Worker placard-carrying nutters know, for example, that there is actually a very good chance that more Palestinians have been displaced and/or killed as a result of the conflict in Syria over the last three years than in at least a decade of Israel-Palestinian conflict, if not far longer?
Perhaps even since the inception of the State of Israel, if we count deaths alone. Bearing in mind that all official statistics regarding the number of Palestinian deaths also include those deaths suffered by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups killed in open combat.
Between Bashar al-Assad’s forces and ISIS, the Palestinians have been getting a rough ride, and still are. Nobody is quite sure the figures of the casualties, but considering Hamas is a Sunni militant group like ISIS, one can induce that the bulk of oppression of Palestinians comes from Assad loyalists. My point is this; who protested at the Syrian London embassy the last two Saturdays? Syria is an open case of ‘collective punishment’, a phrase with which Israeli policy is often smeared. But nobody cares. It isn’t Israel, after all.
Compare another example. Egypt at present recognizes the need for an economic blockade against Hamas, and (presumably) implicitly works with Israel to uphold it. Trade routes into Gaza have time and again been taken advantage of by Hamas for its own nihilistic ends. So Egypt close the trade routes, bomb the tunnels, and close the borders. Maybe one day, the sanctions will be different. But for now, we can ask, why are there no anti-Egyptians? Where were the crowds outside the Egyptian embassy? Can the BDS crowd not find Belgravia on a map?
The people walking down Kensington High Street towards the (empty; it was a Saturday) Israeli Embassy chanting “we are all Hamas!” are cut from the same pathetic cloth as the deluded whitey ultra-Guardianistas who chanted “We are all Hezbollah!” in 2006, blissfully unaware that given the chance, Hassan Nasrallah and Khaled Mashal would almost certainly kill them. But that’s not important. The crowd want more Israeli blood; that’s what will please them. That way, it’ll be fairer. Thank goodness the Israelis will hopefully never have to please such people.