Spoiler alert: For those of you who never saw The Dead Zone, a film adaptation of the fantasy-thriller novel by Stephen King, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to associate this 1983 movie with the UN’s recent report on the IDF-Hamas war in Gaza last summer.
The protagonist, a schoolteacher named Johnny Smith played by Christopher Walken, is a survivor of a coma who wakes up with a psychic power to see into the future. He foretells that a malevolent politician running for the US Senate named Greg Stillson, played by Martin Sheen, will someday become President of the United States and start a nuclear war with Russia. To ward off this global disaster, he tries to gun down the candidate during a campaign speech. As the would-be assassin is about to pull the trigger, the wannabe president sees him taking aim with his rifle. On impulse, he snatches a baby boy right out of his mother’s arms and holds him in front of his face to shield him from the bullets. This act of cowardice is captured by a news photographer. Rapid gunfire is exchanged, the target is missed and the shooter is taken out by a security guard. Moments later, a wounded Johnny Smith knows he won the battle when he has a clear vision of the next edition of Newsweek: The cover photo shows Stillson holding the screaming baby in front of him as his frantic mother struggles to take him back, and the cover story headline is right on target: “No Future for Stillson.”
But what rings so true to life in a Stephen King fantasy doesn’t impress the UN, which didn’t bother mentioning the catch phrase “human shield” in its report on Operation Protective Edge.
It takes a remarkable lack of common sense and selective memory to deny or ignore what was so plainly obvious during Operation Protective Edge and previous wars in Gaza: Not only does Hamas fire its rockets at Israeli population centers, as the UN report acknowledges, it compounds this war crime by placing Palestinian civilians, including women and children, in the direct line of fire. Like the craven politician in the Dead Zone, Hamas hides behind the nearest civilians, babies too. In fact, their whole propaganda war depends on heavy losses among the very Palestinians they are supposed to defend. That the UN is okay with this perverse wartime strategy attests to the strong influence of radical Islam at the UN, and has little to do with the rules of engagement on the battlefield.
So much for the so-called United Nations, those unsubstantiated vanguards of global coexistence. What’s more disturbing is that B’tselem, an Israeli Left-wing human rights watch group, also censured the IDF, providing content for the UN’s shameful report. While the B’tselem version also points an accusing finger at Hamas, it lambasts the IDF for firing at “illegitimate military targets” and responding to Hamas attacks “disproportionately.”
B’tselem overlooks the point that when residential buildings, schools, and mosques are used by terrorists as weapon storehouses and rocket launch pads they become legitimate military targets according to international law. B’tselem also doesn’t take into account that the IDF always warned Palestinian civilians to vacate areas targeted for counter-attack.
As to the second point, the one about “disproportion:” It is fashionable nowadays to either blame Israel for everything or spread the blame equally between the IDF and terrorist forces. A more equitable account would go like this: Hamas is 99.9% liable for hiding behind Palestinian men, women, children and babies, and the IDF is 00.1% accountable for their failure to develop and deploy a “magic missile” that kills only terrorists and misses civilians.
Were B’tselem to make such a “proportionate” statement, they would probably be laughed at. After all, a short time ago many Israelis scoffed at the idea of fielding a missile interceptor. Rest assured, though, in this brave new world where a state-of the-art interceptor decoy (e.g. the Australian-developed Nulka) hovers in midair to entice, engage and deflect incoming anti-ship missiles, who knows, maybe a hovering “magic missile” that gives civilians due notice to run like hell is already on the drawing board?
But let’s face it, B’tselem has more to say about human rights issues than it does about sensitive military technologies. That being the case, they would be well advised to tone down their unfounded anti-IDF rhetoric and stop embarrassing the mainstream Israeli Left, which knows how to tell apart Israel’s finest from pseudo Islamic anti-Semitic terrorist murderers.
If badly mistaken groups like B’tselem would change their tune and fall in line with the sane majority of the Israeli Left, only good things can happen: The misrepresented Left would gain credibility as well as much needed support from the Center, possibly enough to tip the scales in the next national election; a more responsible and trustworthy Left would inspire meaningful dialogue on the two-state solution, which would regain a top priority standing on the national agenda; a renewal of serious diplomatic activity would build international understanding for Israel ‘s security needs and create a climate which would be less opportune for hate groups like BDS; and the next time Hamas is caught red handed hiding behind the skirts of Palestinian women and the babies at their breasts, maybe the cover of Newsweek will read “No Future for Hamas.”
In this part of the world, it sounds like a fantasy. But stranger things can happen. Ask Stephen King.