Many words have been thrown around during the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas. One of those words is proportion, another is symmetry. One word that I haven’t heard used very much is rationality. As usual, behind the war raging in Gaza another war was raging for airtime in front of television cameras and for attention via the electronic signals of the internet.
People all around the world were incensed by the images of dead and wounded Gazans being broadcast to them on just about every media outlet. In order to provide some attempt to give the other side of the story media networks would switch from Palestinians carrying dead and bleeding kids into al Shifa hospital to an Israeli somewhere in the South of the country showing the hole they had in the roof of their house. Hardly likely to capture the imagination in the same way.
This belies the fact that neither an Israeli with a hole in their roof nor a picture of a dead Palestinian is educating people as to what is actually going on in Gaza. Or why we were fighting there. So is it really a surprise that people everywhere are incensed by Israel?
While the press were lining up to grab their images of “war porn” in al Shifa Hospital in Gaza they were quietly ignoring the Hamas command bunker located inside the same facility. They were ignoring the rockets being fired from behind their hotel, they were ignoring the armed Hamas fighters all around them. That is until Hamas finally allowed journalists to leave the Strip and they could tell their tales of woe unmolested…and largely ignored. The news has moved on. The hatred for Israel remains.
Now in the wake of the operation what everyone in Israel knew already was confirmed by whispers from journalists leaving Gaza. Too late to make an impact on the millions of people around the world who were glued to their television sets for a month of constant real life war stories. The story was simple. There was an aggressor and a victim. There were words such as asymmetry and proportionality but there was no rationality to speak of.
I don’t blame the journalists. There is an inevitability to this one sided reporting when they’re in a territory ruled by a fascist, theocratic dictatorship. The fact that this is who Israel is fighting means that there is a depressing inevitability to the continuation of conflict between Hamas and Israel. Whatever the short term causes are, in the long term, the commitment Hamas holds to Israel’s destruction will ensure that conflict will always begin again.
On the streets of Europe the damage has been done. The thousands of demonstrators have already taken to the streets to bare their fangs. In Paris they took out their anger on Jewish targets, in London, Berlin and elsewhere in the world the demonstrators, shouted Jew hating slogans. Anti-Semitic incidents went through the roof. Here also rationality was missing. did people in Berlin really think that by chanting “Jews to the gas chambers” they were helping Gazans?
Where does proportionality and symmetry fit into a Parisian attacking a synagogue in the name of Gaza?
Hamas are so ruthless that they even murder their own operatives in cold blood. They are perfectly happy to fight to the last Gazan. In fact when journalists in Gaza are so scared of Hamas that they simply refuse to film them the entire idea of having a rational conversation about Hamas becomes impossible. When dead kids are being broadcast 24/7 on TV the man talking rationally appears simply to be the man who doesn’t care about the dead and the wounded.
With all of this bizarre irrational commentary the events of the Middle East, particularly the “Israeli/Palestinian” conflict has been broken down into a fight between weak Palestinians and strong Israelis. This is a narrative constructed to fit a 2 minute TV segment and it’s wrong.
What this fighting is about is extremists doing everything they can to prevent peace between Israelis and Palestinians. What’s good for Israelis is also good for Palestinians. What’s good for the majority is bad for the extremists. When they feel they’re losing power they order the killing of three kids and set the snowball in motion that led all the rest of us into war.
This is not an “Israeli Palestinian” conflict this is a conflict between extremists and everyone else. This truth is something journalists ignore every time.
The demands being made by Hamas right now are the perfect example of this divide. There is nothing extreme about going to war demand freedom of movement for your populace or the free flow of trade and goods into Gaza. But when you take into account the fact that these measures were only imposed after Hamas murdered the members of the ruling Fatah they overthrew and turned Gaza into a giant playground for terrorists you understand their necessity. Israel is dealing with Hamas and has no reason to believe that their demands are coming from anything other than a desire to get as many guns into the Strip as possible.
So while the world has been watching dead Palestinians being brought into the hospital which doubles as Hamas military HQ they are in no mood to hear the rational Israeli worries about a rearmed, re-equipped Hamas shooting into Israel once again in two years time.
The truth is that the extremists have won this round. Rationality has been swept aside. All thoughts for the majority of Israelis and Palestinians who are being dragged along for the Hamas ride are gone, replaced by an image of a dead kid and a hole in a roof.