I’m fed up.
I don’t want to write this, but I’m fed up.
I’m fed up, and I’ve seen it all before.
Two weeks ago I watched a programme on the BBC about Easter in Israel’s holy sites. The presenter, a well-known and well-intentioned British actress, saw the security barrier which separates Israel and the West Bank and remarked about how it was “wrong”.
Rewind 20 years, it was 2001, I stood in Jerusalem deciding on what to grab for dinner with friends. Our indecision meant we didn’t get far. Two minutes later, a bomb exploded 50 metres away in the pizza restaurant we were considering going to, killing over 20 innocent teenagers and injuring hundreds. That suicide bomber was from Hamas. We jumped in a cab and left the area, people running and sirens blaring. Moments later, a second bomb exploded… exactly where I’d been standing during the first.
The security barrier, the one which was “wrong”, was built in the years after my own near-death experience at the hands of Hamas. It essentially put an end to suicide bombings in Israel, on buses, in restaurants and during religious festivals. Sometimes things which may look “wrong” to our naive western eyes also serve to preserve innocent lives. Sometimes things that seem “wrong” prevent other things that are way “more wrong”. Imperfect, perhaps. Necessary, definitely. Nothing is simple.
Israel is complicated. The action of this week is simply the very top surface of a collection of layers of history, of sub-plots, of hurt. People study the region for years and still only scratch the surface.
I’m fed up of ‘woke’ celebrities demonising Israel and turning a blind eye to the thousands of rockets being launched by Hamas at Israeli civilians. They are unwittingly giving their celebrity endorsement to terror. Demonising only one side of a conflict is equal to making excuses for the behaviour of the other side. People from Love Island are unknowingly becoming Marketing Execs for Hamas in Europe. Read that again.
I’m fed up of uneducated influencers suddenly acting like experts of the Middle East. Do they proclaim to be experts on South Ossetia, Kashmir or Northern Cyprus? No. Did they fill their Instagram stories with objections to Assad gassing his own people in Syria or Uigur Muslims being put into actual concentration camps in China? No. Have they ever heard of the Gaza Disengagement, Mohammed al-Dura, the Jenin ‘Massacre’, the Camp David Accords, the Hamas Charter or any other piece of context needed to really understand this situation? Of course not. Yet they’re happy to #PrayForPalestine whilst ignoring the thousands of rockets being fired by Hamas at Israeli citizens, families rushing their children into bomb shelters. It seems that every country has a right to defend itself from acts of war… apart from the one Jewish one.
Perhaps Ricky Gervais said it best to a room full of actors at the Golden Globes… “Don’t use this as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world.”
I’m fed up of the language of the British media, which structures its headlines not according to chronology, but according to narrative. It doesn’t matter if Hamas kill Israelis and Israel reacts by targeting Hamas leaders, the headline will be “Israel kills Palestinians… who killed Israeli civilians earlier in the day, it is claimed.”
I’m fed up that whilst a well-known rapper went on a 48 hour vile anti-Jewish rant last year, so few people stood up to be counted. So few non-Jews said anything. At the time I wrote “Israel may not be perfect, but it exists precisely because people like you say nothing when Jews are attacked.” It turns out that those same people laying low have now crawled out of the woodwork to denounce the only Jewish country on earth defending itself against rocket fire. So you won’t defend Jews but they’re not allowed to defend themselves either?! OK. Some people claim that you scratch the surface of an Israel-hater, and you’ll find a Jew-hater.
I’m fed up of the world ignoring Hamas as though they were nothing more than a bad smell, whilst demonising Israel at every opportunity. If you are an influencer and have posted more against Israel than against Hamas, you are literally doing the dirty work of a terrorist organisation. Oh and by the way, if you wear that bikini or hold hands with your same-sex partner in Gaza, you’ll be killed and paraded through the streets as blood-thirsty men fire guns in the air and shout about how great god is. Wear the bikini or be openly gay in Tel Aviv, you’ll fit right in as long as you have tattoos and a cute dog as well.
I’m fed up of those who accuse Israel of ‘genocide’, meaning ‘the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.’ There are MORE Palestinians now than there were 50 years ago. That does not happen during a genocide. Anybody who makes this claim is beyond sense and reason, fuelled by hate. It’s preposterous and pathetic, especially as Hamas makes no secret of its will to commit genocide on Jews. You’re actually gaslighting. Stop it.
I’m fed up of the word ‘disproportionate’ which makes no sense at all to anyone with a functioning brain cell, yet is still trotted out as the laziest way to demonise Israel. “Israel is acting in a disproportionate way”, they say. “Israel should be able to defend itself from terror but it must not be disproportionate”, they tell us. If you held a knife and told me you were going to murder my family, then tried to do it, I would use the gun in my pocket to stop you. Is that disproportionate? If 8 Israelis are killed by Hamas, does that make it OK for Israel to kill 8 Palestinians? Of course not. Hamas fired over 2000 rockets indiscriminately at Israel this week, each one trying to kill civilians. If Israel fired 2000 rockets into Gaza, each one trying to kill civilians, is that OK as it’s ‘proportionate’? Of course not.
If 100 Palestinians and 30 Israelis were killed, would you feel better if another 70 Israelis were killed? Not enough dead Jews, is that the real problem for you? TV anchorman Trevor Noah literally used that argument this week, comparing death figures. If more Jews were dead, he wouldn’t have a problem. He would see things as “proportionate”. Well, Trevor, I’m really sorry there aren’t more dead Jews. No, Trevor, it’s nothing like where you grew up. Also, Trevor, when one side invests all their money in bomb shelters, and the other side invest all their money in rockets… the one with the bomb shelters will have fewer casualties. They shouldn’t need to apologise for that, and they shouldn’t need to sacrifice their own lives so that you can sit on TV and say it’s more “fair” as now the Jew-death-toll is high enough for you. I used to be a fan, but now I’m fed up with you. So apparently the only thing we need to understand what is right or wrong in the context of an age-old conflict is an abacus… come on Trevor, I thought you were intelligent?!
Israel is currently engaged in the most precise counter-terrorism operation in history, calling ahead to warn Gazans of their next target, preparing to go in on foot (knowing that young Israelis will get killed) in order to minimise civilian casualties on the Palestinian side. I’m fed up of anyone using that word as a way to criticise Israel. It’s lazy and meaningless.
Israel is not perfect but offers equal rights to all citizens and has Arab citizens in every part of society, from Supreme Court Judges to Members of Parliament to University Professors, whilst the Hamas Charter calls for every Jew to be killed, anywhere in the world. Including me. Are you anti-racist? Did you post a black square? Did you take a knee? IF YOU ARE ANTI-RACIST THEN YOU SHOULD STAND AGAINST HAMAS.
I’m fed up of people who are liberal in every other sense, misplacing their concern in this situation. Israel has the only Pride Weekend anywhere in the Middle East, an incredible celebration of love held in Tel Aviv every year and enjoyed by thousands of people from all around the world. Meanwhile, Hamas throw gay people off rooftops. IF YOU ARE AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA, YOU SHOULD STAND AGAINST HAMAS.
Israel has more elections than any other Middle Eastern country, allowing all civilians the right to vote, from Jewish men to Muslim women. Meanwhile, Hamas will never hold an election, and in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas is in the 16th year of his 4 year term, and just cancelled the forthcoming elections. IF YOU BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY, YOU SHOULD STAND AGAINST HAMAS.
By the way, standing against Hamas does not make you ‘anti-Palestinian’. I would argue that if you stand against Hamas, it means you care about the welfare of Palestinian people and want them to prosper.
Sky News yesterday interviewed the head of a hospital in Ashkelon (Israel), asking how they’ve managed to continue their work under constant rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza. She explained that they’d built a 300 bed hospital underground in recent years, protecting them from rocket fire and allowing them to continue saving lives without disruption. Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas store rockets under Al-Shifa Hospital as they know it would be disastrous PR for Israel if they target that ammunition stockpile. Israel builds a hospital under their hospital, Hamas build an ammunition store under theirs. Doesn’t that speak volumes?!
If you’ve posted about Gaza, praying for Palestine, demonising Israel… then I assume you know all about the Gaza Disengagement of 2005?
In case I’m wrong, here you go: There used to be 21 Israeli towns in Gaza. In 2005, in the absence of meaningful negotiations, Israel decided to disband these 21 towns, and drag their own people away from them, removing all Jews and Israelis from Gaza. It wasn’t part of a deal, it was done in the hope that Palestinians will take the thriving industry and agriculture the Israelis had built, and use it to build better lives for themselves. It was hoped that this act would be seen as a step towards peace, that Israel is willing to give up land for meaningful peace. Israel handed over the keys and walked away. I was in Jerusalem at the time, there were massive demonstrations against this move. Jews forcing Jews from their own homes for the sake of a bigger picture and possible peace.
What happened afterwards? Hamas spent the last 16 years turning Gaza into a terrorist outpost, making the entire place a rocket launchpad from which to attack Israel. You see, Hamas would rather bring Israel down than improve Palestinian lives. Israel cares more about Palestinian lives than Hamas has ever done. Yes, that statement sounds crazy, but it’s true. Hamas preach ‘martyrdom’… that the greatest honour is to lose your life whilst killing Jews. It’s sick, twisted, and beyond comprehension for most well-intentioned people.
I was ‘pro’ the disengagement at the time. 16 years of festering extremism. 16 years of stockpiling rockets with International Aid, also known as your tax money. 16 years of investing in terror tunnels to murder Israelis as opposed to schools to educate Palestinians. It was a golden opportunity for prosperity and progress, shot up in flames by Hamas. If you were Israel, would you give up any more land in the knowledge that it’s likely to be turned into a launchpad by Hamas? Hindsight is a great thing.
If you want an extreme fundamentalist Islamic terror state on the shores of the Mediterranean, keep sharing those memes which ignore Hamas as a problem and vow to ‘Free Palestine’. Again, celebs, liberals, well-intentioned Instagrammers… YOU ARE UNWITTINGLY DOING ONLINE MARKETING FOR HOMOPHOBIC AND RACIST MURDERERS.
At Jewish events like Bar Mitzvahs in the UK, everyone sings ‘Salaam’ at the end, an Arabic word not a Hebrew one. A word which means peace. Jews long for peace. Meanwhile, Hamas take 4-year-old recruits and make them shout ‘Death To Jews’. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (the ‘moderate’ ones who receive more international aid – your tax money – than anybody) have a fund called The Martyrs Fund. They pay a monthly salary to the family of anyone who murders Jews and loses their life in the process. Pay to Slay. It’s beyond sickening. When a Jewish baby is born in Israel, they immediately have a price on their head. Your taxes are being used to monetise and incentivise the murder of Jews. Again, doesn’t that speak volumes?! Or don’t you want to hear?!
I’m fed up. Everyday Palestinians are fed up. Everyday Israelis are fed up. This is not a conflict between ‘Palestine and Israel’, it’s a conflict between decent people (on both sides) and the most perverse extremists on earth. Change your hashtags for #ShalomSalaamPeace, which acknowledges hurt on both sides, it acknowledges that the ultimate goal for all decent people is peace… something Hamas would never want to see.
Years ago, as an idealistic young left-wing student of the Middle East, an elderly family member told me “If the Arabs put their weapons down tomorrow, there would be no war. If Israel put their weapons down tomorrow, there would be no Israel.” I laughed at the time at such a sweeping and simplistic statement, but it’s much closer to the truth than I ever realised. There’s a simple equation here…. Hamas want all Jews dead, and the Jews refuse to let that happen. How dare they.
I’m fed up of people taking news reports on face value, do you really believe the most complicated region on earth is that simple?! Nobody wants to see young Israeli soldiers stopping and searching Palestinian ambulances, it’s difficult to watch and to most decent people around the world it’s a disgrace. But ever since Hamas first used the official Red Crescent ambulances to smuggle suicide bombers and explosives in 2002 (starting with a woman suicide bomber, Wafa Idris, who worked as a medical secretary for the Palestinian Red Crescent), being accomplices in the murder of innocent Israelis… what choice does Israel have?! Things are not simple. Any other country would do the same. It’s very easy to criticise from your armchair. One of my favourite phrases is “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, be kind.” Perhaps once in a while this can apply to your perception of Israel, a country that faces perverse threats to its very existence every single day. Challenges you know nothing about, living in NYC or London.
Maybe tonight, when you pray for Palestine, perhaps keep the millions of Israeli families in your prayers too. The normal people who are running into bomb shelters with their kids, praying that it will all be over soon. There is suffering on BOTH sides. Real people with real dreams on BOTH sides.
If you’re brave enough to share this, you may have friends engaging in ‘whataboutery’, like a script of someone who cannot bring themselves to be anything other than a hater of Israel. “What about the settlements? What about the checkpoints?” they’ll ask, as though they’ve not read a word of what’s actually been written. Sure, they are issues, in a region full of issues. Many of these issues deserve their own book, but they’re not THE issue. Hamas want Israel gone and Jews dead. The President of Iran, the biggest sponsor of terrorism on earth, literally said the words “Israel should be wiped off the map” whilst sending massive shipments of rockets to Gaza to try to make this aim a reality. I have seen confiscated Iranian ammunition first-hand.
I’m fed up.
I’m genuinely fed up. This was written in 20 minutes straight from the depths of my frustrations. I don’t expect many people to read everything I’ve written, but if it makes ONE person think twice the next time their favourite celebrity demonises Israel, it will have been worthwhile.