So here’s my dilemma. I’m very uncomfortable about many aspects of the current war. My emotions are much as those reported yesterday by Danya Kauffman in ToI http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/zero-shades-of-grey/ – I can empathise with both sides though my distress is much greater when I hear about the deaths of IDF soldiers. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about the Palestinian deaths but I’m hugely conflicted about how on earth Israel can protect itself, avoid the deaths and get to a proper peaceful settlement. And I find myself increasingly perturbed by the players – the immediate ones, and I realise more importantly those in the wider spheres of influence.
I find it extraordinary that none of those talking about “disproportion” are prepared to acknowledge that a) were it not for the billions spent on iron dome etc, the scenes in Israel would be much as they are now in Gaza and there is no doubt that Hamas are targeting civilians, both Israelis and Palestinians; b) the Tunnels are perhaps the most evil tactic I have ever seen – years, years they’ve apparently been digging. And to what end – to pop up and say hi, how are you? No, to plan mass civilian casualties and kidnappings. That is an implacable and scarily patient foe. c) The tunnels have cost billions. Why does no one (not the Gazans themselves, not the BBC, not Sky, no one in the anti Israel camp) ask, what could have been done with that money in the last 9 years since Israel withdrew completely from Gaza? How many schools, hospitals, universities, houses could have been built, how many opportunities taken but instead thrown away on the drip, drip, drip determination to try to exterminate Israel? Why hasn’t the UN and EU audited where the billions of aid have disappeared to?
And then we have the ceasefires. Israel offered – Hamas has repeatedly rejected. Today there were 16 peaceful hours, Israel offered to extend but within minutes the Hamas rockets were firing again. One has to believe that Hamas welcomes the deaths that will follow because it feeds the media.
Simultaneously, I can’t help but worry about some of the goings on in Israel – there has been a series of events which led to the Israeli public supporting Netanyahu’s stance in a way that was unthinkable even a few months ago. I find it hard to believe the IDF did not know that Eyal, Naftali and Gilad had been murdered on that first day? For sure, they didn’t know where the bodies were but somehow the myth arose that they could be alive, the mothers were extraordinary under pressure and everyone, everyone started praying for their safe return. It was passionate, genuine, heartfelt belief and it brought Israelis from all backgrounds together, undoubtedly softened attitudes towards settlers and the Gush (and bearing in mind the boys didn’t all live over the green line) – and gave Netanyahu and the army free rein to re-imprison released prisoners and raid large chunks of the West Bank. And then that horrible, horrible moment when the hope was destroyed – when they found the bodies. They almost certainly knew they were looking for bodies. But we didn’t want to think that. I wept in my hotel room in Nice – the Jewish world and more wept and there was great anger and despair in Israel. The awful murder of Abu Khadeir followed and we all thought, no Jew could have done that. But Jews did. They have been arrested and will be punished. The Israeli boys’ murderers remain at large. But they almost certainly were not Hamas – yet we were persuaded they were. Which made it all much easier for Netanyahu to ratchet up the rhetoric and take measures against Gaza.
But I’m not apologising for Israel responding. Hamas started firing more and more and more rockets. There had been no prior long term ceasefire whatever the media claims – the rockets have been coming over for months and years. But the pace and reach changed and it became untenable. Truly untenable. At some point, Israel had to retaliate – I completely supported the initial responses but prayed no ground invasion – and mostly because I can’t bear the soldiers to be killed or captured, rather than from some overdeveloped sense of concern for the Gazans. We keep being told that Hamas were democratically elected – well if that’s the case, and that’s what the Palestinians of Gaza want, well they’ve got what was always going to happen if you elect fundamental Islamists into power: no democracy, abuse of civilians who dare to confront them, and a determination to destroy Israel that is patient, persistent and relentless. Israel cannot accept that narrative and at some point, there was going to be another overt war.
Then the fateful morning (was it really just a few days ago?) when the Hamas terrorists appeared like meerkats up from the tunnels. I found the footage shocking. The ground invasion was always going to happen from that point – when Hamas rejected the offer of a ceasefire (which Israel had accepted) and chose to show their hand in the tunnels, the fate of Gaza was sealed. The tunnels have to be destroyed. They cannot remain in place. The devastation that has ensued is horrible BUT the lies and distortion in the media, the way the media feeds the Hamas hunger for publicity and inadvertently encourages more civilian deaths and the abuse of civilians by Hamas have been shocking. Does no-one think to say that yes, Israel has pounded certain areas, but the resulting devastation is as much from the exploding of hidden arms caches as from Israeli weapons; that Hamas has prevented civilians leaving areas that Israel has told them to leave; and that Hamas has consistently fired from in or right by schools, hospitals, mosques?
By yesterday I was losing heart. I don’t want to see more dead babies (Hamas doesn’t seem to care – all grist to its fantastic media manipulation), I don’t want more Israeli soldiers, nearly all of whom seem to be the same age as my son, killed. Both sides are manipulating the media very effectively. I don’t like being manipulated and I don’t like to think that Netanyahu is more interested in his ratings and maintaining power, than really thinking about how to resolve this endless cycle.
And yet, today some things became even clearer than they had been. Firstly, I had the misfortune to hear part of Any Questions on BBC radio 4. I heard Greg Dyke, ex Director General of the BBC, calmly imply that the problem with reporting in an unbiased way about the conflict was the response by the Jews – he steered a millimetre shy of talking about Jewish control of the press/the Jewish lobby but it was deeply uncomfortable. He said he thought it very wrong that the BBC were reporting the conflict as between Israel and militant Palestinians as (wait for it) it delegitimises the Palestinians as it presents one as a government (it is) and one as less than (it is). And there was I thinking terrorist was a better word. His coup de grace was to say the reason the US is so soft on Israel is indeed the power of the Jewish vote. Ghastly. He got a lot of applause whereas the admirable Susan Kramer, who was exceptionally even handed, and asked where were the peacemakers on both sides, had much less warm reception. Why is the anti Israel rhetoric so warmly welcomed? There have been many many more deaths in recent conflicts in Syria (100,000s, many of the Palestinian), in Iraq, in Nigeria, but somehow it doesn’t lead to the same outrage – despite hugely greater numbers of deaths, including of children. But we don’t see thousands taking to the street. We don’t see slogans demanding death to the Syrians, wiping ISIS of the face of the earth; we don’t hear claims of war crimes in the UN; Yet the moment Israel is involved, even when it truly faces an existentialist threat, then people feel the need to march, to demonstrate, to tell everyone what a dreadful dreadful country Israel is. I’ve only starting using Twitter in the last two weeks and have relatively few followers; yet I’ve been trolled, mobbed and abused – simply because I defend Israel. The language is vile. The unherent ironies in their responses are simply lost on the humourless Israel hating crew – they condemn Israel for civilian casualties, absolutely refuse to acknowledge Hamas’ role and completely sign up to the idea that Israel should not exist. Oh of course there are true peaceniks out there but the majority of Tweeters and facebook posts support “from the river to the sea” – they call Israel genocidal and yet, without missing a heartbeat or considering their inconsistency, call for the genocide of the Israeli Jews. How can that be acceptable? They denounce / minimise the Holocaust. In their profound and disturbing ignorance or dismissal of history, they compare Gaza to the Warsaw ghetto – conveniently missing out some key salient differences such as the Jews never chose the Government that put them in the Ghetto, but as mentioned, the Gazans elected Hamas. Why on earth would you open borders to borders to people determined to come in and destroy you (witness the tunnels…)? Israel withdrew from Gaza 9 years ago and all the opportunities for growth and development were discarded in favour of terror and retribution. But Israel still sends in supplies even in the midst of war and despite knowing that most of the supplies in past years have been used to build tunnels, sets up a field hospital (I don’t remember the Nazi’s doing that) to treat injured Gazans and Israelis alike and yet it still is the demon. However much I don’t want to, I have to conclude, that anti Semitism is never very far away and somehow this conflict has rapidly allowed overt anti-Semitism to become publicly acceptable – witness the vile riots and harassment in Paris just today, the attacks on Synagogues, the marches in London with people holding signs equating Israel with the Nazis, the disgusting outpouring by the ANC, and the much more subtle media abuse.
That’s all disturbing – very disturbing. Many others have written far more eloquently. But revelations over the last 24 hours have made me much much more worried. I was really really disappointed that Israel didn’t accept Kerry’s ceasefire proposal – I thought it contained an agreement to allow destruction of the tunnels to continue (which it must) and I was losing my stomach for a protracted conflict and the scale of devastation in Gaza. But then, Israel agreed a humanitarian ceasefire regardless and it held. How lovely not to have the rocket app going off every few minutes. A peaceful Shabbat. Then the Tweets began saying that the Israeli cabinet was divided, that Netanyahu wanted a ceasefire but Lieberman doesn’t. And yet, they agreed, and there was an extension offered. But within minutes Hamas rejected the proposal and started the rockets – a 16.5 hour break in rockets came to an end. The only reason for Hamas to do this is that it wants more deaths, more destruction as it thinks it’s winning the media war. Hamas really doesn’t care if Gaza is bombed to oblivion, as it thinks it will win a one state solution and drive Israelis into the sea because the West is blind to reality and the Middle East “negotiators run rings round the process.
I thought that would never be allowed. That fundamentally, people want Israel to exist – it is after all the only true democracy in the Middle East. People can protest (how ironic that the pro Gaza protest in Tel Aviv tonight was broken up by the rockets and the sirens – surely if the rhetoric were true and the rockets no threat, then the protestors would have stayed put?) – try protesting in Gaza. But then I read the details of the peace deal that Israel rejected; essentially it was making concessions to all of Hamas’ demands. And one has to wonder why John Kerry would do that. Until the penny dropped. Qatar is at the negotiating table. Qatar has consistently hosted and supported terrorists. The cowardly leaders of Hamas (God forbid they sit in Gaza) are living lives of luxury in Qatar. Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood and Isis. It is a state sponsoring terror. And yet America lets it come to the negotiating table, along with the avowed anti semite Erdogan from Turkey. And these guys seem to be dictating terms and America is listening. Why? Well, because it turns out, in the end it’s all self interest. America has just agreed a deal with Qatar to sell them $11 billion worth of Patriot missiles – $11 billion. http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Qatar_to_buy_Patriot_missiles_in_11_bln_arms_deal_US_999.html
Why would they do that? Why on earth would they do that? Where do they think the missiles are going to end up? All the opponents of Israel get up on their high high horses and start talking about moral authority. What they’re actually worrying about are their balance sheets. The US wants the deal with Qatar so they allow Qatar to dictate terms of a ceasefire with Hamas. There are calls for mass boycotting of Israel forgetting that the very media used to make these calls was largely designed and developed by Israel – clearly the boycott won’t be of anything that would actually make the BDS’s lives difficult such as of mobile phones, laptops, many medicines and medical devices. No of herbs and olives and things they think they can manage without. What they should be boycotting are regimes supporting ISIS and Assad and other murderous organisations such as Hamas – what they should be boycotting is Iran, Qatar, Russia. But they’re not – and one has to wonder why not?
My really disturbing epiphany: Israel is expected to agree a ceasefire deal despite the fact that it isn’t being negotiated to ensure Israel’s safety and security, the end of Hamas terror, but is designed to ensure the US doesn’t lose an $11 billion deal. God help us all.