There has been an unavoidably noticeable pattern in the rhetoric used during this current escalation of military action in Gaza, words used online and in the media to describe each ‘side’. Each ‘side’ has at some point called the other immoral, propagandists and murderers. Each ‘side’ has accused the other of targeting innocent civilians; each ‘side’ has accused the other of attempting to commit genocide upon their neighbor.
It’s reminiscent of futile childhood exchanges in the playground whereby Shimon says to Mohammed “You’re a poo”, then Mohammed replies, “I know you are but what am I?” For the record, there wasn’t a Shimon or a Mohammed in my class at school, but why not keep it topical. The mammoth difference between futile playground name calling and the current wave of Gaza-centric ‘social’ networking is of course that this current situation is about the right to self-determination, it’s about life and death, it’s about people all around the world seemingly jumping on bandwagons, and it’s about an epic clash of civilizations possibly destined to be replicated in many other countries in the not-too-distant future.
Of course, there are some traits that ARE indeed shared by both Israelis and Palestinians, the main ones being the desire to have self-determination, to live a peaceful and prosperous life… and a propensity to over-zealously spread humous onto any other foodstuffs in sight until everything tastes of chick-peas.
I say without reservation that every single loss of innocent life in this conflict is a tragedy. In the Talmud, it says that “Saving a life is the same as saving an entire world”, it does not differentiate based upon the religion that this life, or ‘world’, has been born into. People’s worlds are ending in a horrendous spiral of hatred, and we ALL want it to stop.
The problem here is that Israel is not at war with the Palestinians, if you’re looking to a regime that has killed tens of thousands of helpless Palestinians in 2014, look towards Syria. Israel is at war with Hamas, who care about the lives of innocent Palestinians less than anyone. How many times have Israel shelled the West Bank, where the majority of Palestinians live, in this last month? None. To repeat: this is a war against Hamas. Even last week a Hamas spokesman on Al-Aqsa TV was encouraging Palestinian civilians who know that their home will be targeted that day, as they’ve received the text messages and phone calls and leaflet drops from the IDF, to “go to the rooftops and protect your homes with your bare chests”. Will that protect their homes, or will that simply lead to more civilian casualties, which then further demonize Israel and increase popular support for Hamas, aiding their political ambitions? It’s important to state of course, the IDF say that any targets, whether homes, schools or other buildings, are being targeted as they’re used by Hamas for terrorist purposes.
Now to Lord Prescott, who this week wrote, “What happened to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis is appalling. But you would think those atrocities would give Israel a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto.” He described the Israeli military operation as “indiscriminate”.
Lord Prescott writes, “of the 1000-plus to die, more than 80% were civilians… who is to say some of the other 20% weren’t innocent too?” An article this week in the Wall Street Journal, by Bret Stephens, offers a different view and one which is important we consider… “Consider the media obsession with the body count. According to a daily tally in the New York Times, as of July 27 the war in Gaza had claimed 1,023 Palestinian lives as against 46 Israelis. How does the Times keep such an accurate count of Palestinian deaths? A footnote discloses ‘Palestinian death tallies are provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.’ OK. So who runs the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza? Hamas does. As for the U.N., it gets its data mainly from two Palestinian agitprop NGOs, one of which, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, offers the remarkably precise statistic that, as of July 27, exactly 82% of deaths in Gaza have been civilians. Curiously, during the 2008-09 Gaza war, the center also reported an 82% civilian casualty rate. When minutely exact statistics are provided in chaotic circumstances, it suggests the statistics are garbage. When a news organization relies—without clarification—on data provided by a bureaucratic organ of a terrorist organization, there’s something wrong there, too.” Lord Prescott, if you’re going to suggest that a greater proportion of these people may have been innocent, surely in the interests of balance, you must also suggest that a greater proportion may not have been innocent either. Basically, you don’t know. Nor do I. So let’s not suggest one way or the other.
Back to the comparison of the IDF with Nazi Germany… I would ask Lord Prescott to let us know exactly how many rockets the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto fired at Polish citizens in the hope of indiscriminately killing as many as possible. Was it in the hundreds, or the thousands? Or none at all? I ask Lord Prescott to let us know how many rockets the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto hid inside UN Schools, as Hamas have been unequivocally proven to do three times already this month. I would ask Lord Prescott whether the intention of Jews during that time was to commit genocide upon their neighbours, as is the publically stated intention of Hamas, or whether they were just trying to stay alive. Yes we know about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were destined to die as part of Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’. The Palestinians of Gaza were destined to flourish as part of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal, leaving behind an existing agricultural industry with contracts and customers internationally. Hamas destroyed them, as they were ‘Jewish greenhouses’, destroying even more opportunities for the Palestinian citizens of Gaza.
Lord Prescott, if you wish to accuse Israel of war crimes before the UNHRC Investigation has concluded, that is your prerogative, in fact you’d be very much part of the majority in doing so. If you wish to write that Israel are responsible for the deaths of innocent Palestinian children, that’s absolutely your prerogative too. If you wish to call for an end to any blockades placed upon the Gaza Strip by Israel, go ahead. If you wish to campaign that Gaza should be part of a Palestinian State, go right ahead, I’ll be there by your side. But Lord Prescott, don’t you dare trivialize the systematic murder of 6 MILLION of my ancestors, walking like sheep to the slaughter, by comparing the IDF to Hitler’s Nazi regime. Don’t you dare use the gravest atrocities in human history, atrocities that are still remembered first hand by many, as a way to delegitimize Israel’s assault on Hamas or conveniently omit any measures Israel has taken to reduce civilian casualty. Don’t you dare use the Jewish people’s deepest darkest moment as a weapon with which to beat Israel even further for exercising their right to defend their own civilians.
Friends, let’s be very clear, that the Jewish people suffered unimaginably during the Holocaust does absolutely NOT give Israel the right to act with impunity, nor does Operation Protective Shield give Lord Prescott the right to compare Israel to the Nazis.
There are plenty of disparaging names you can call Israel, a quick online search will give you thousands. But to seriously compare Israel to the Nazi regime is abhorrent, inexcusable and deeply misleading. It will do nothing but encourage other less educated people to follow suit, a pack mentality that cares nothing for history and contributes to driving people apart, not bringing them together.
This month, there have been a number British Jews fasting during Ramadan as a way of showing solidarity with the innocent Palestinian people caught up in this nightmare. Can you only imagine if Palestinians also marked Holocaust Remembrance Day as a way of attempting to understand and show solidarity with the atrocities carried out upon Jewish people and others in Nazi Germany, instead of regularly denying the Holocaust even happened? Can you only imagine the positive impact this would have around the world? Lord Prescott, if this were to happen, it may go some way to reversing the damage your sickening comparisons have caused. Lord Prescott, in the words of the playground, “you’re a poo”.