Victor Salkowitz

Palestinian Rights Obscure Hamas Tactics

The world is finding out that when a “human rights cause” is strong enough, the “ends justify the means.”

Nowhere is this more dramatically displayed than in the current Gaza conflict.

Israel’s humble beginnings and its historical “underdog status” continues to recede from international memory. This is supported by recent polls in the US. The majority of those over 55 years old still tend to support Israel, while those 18 to 29 show less support. Percentages for and against are also influenced by Democratic and Republican affiliation, but the age factor tends to be the strongest indicator (Gallup Poll taken August 2014).

I am hazarding a guess that this may speak to a “media referenced” basis for how folks tend to make up their minds about international affairs. Put more simply, forget about the history books.  If you were around in the 50s and 60s, you knew, through the news, what Israel had to go through and how it developed its counter-terrorist policies which has put itself into a stalemate with Palestinians today.  But for individuals in the younger age group, more recent media broadcasts do not reference the historical underpinnings of this stalemate.  Young people only hear about “the occupation.”

The stage becomes set for what young people are more familiar with in the past 30 years: anti-colonial sentiments and movements. Zionism becomes a symbol of repression a dirty word.

Once Israel becomes sufficiently vilified, especially to young people with no sense of history, the real mischief can start.

In criminology there is an expression called “grooming.” This is where the perpetrator engages its future victim through unacceptable but easily deniable gestures (“Oh that really didn’t happen,” “That’s not how it was meant,” etc.). Once the victim becomes “accustomed” to thinking this is just how things are, the offences gradually become more and more serious until a full out assault occurs.

I would like to suggest that the terrorist acts for the past 30 years, while not denied by their perpetrators, have been sufficiently isolated and distant enough to have a conditioning effect on the world’s consciousness.  A  “grooming” if you will for a more franker, full out assault. Due to the insidious nature of this conditioning, we don’t know what is happening until it is too late.The objective of the perpetrator, of course, has been to legitimize an illegitimate tactic to meet the perpetrator’s needs.

There is no moral equivalency to these tactics, no matter how noble the cause.  Yes the sex offender has sexual needs.  Yes the bank robber has to pay his rent. Prisons are full of inmates who will put every emphasis on their needs in hopes of de-emphasizing for the listener how they went about meeting those needs. “It wasn’t all that bad.”

But when this becomes a dog and pony show for all the world to see, the fall out to the legitimization of illegitimate behavior is on the world stage:

Now it’s okay to set upon synagogues and storefronts in Paris.

Now it’s okay for teenagers to board a school bus of much younger children and threaten to slit their throats in Australia.

Illegitimacy seeks legitimacy, rupturing the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Israel is once again being put to the test and will receive no thanks from the world for what it achieves in this conflict.  But Israelis know who they are.  And what they achieve is no small matter.

About the Author
Victor Salkowitz is a retired Clinical Social Worker with over 30 years experience in prisons, child welfare, and adult mental health agencies. He received his B.A. in Psychology from UC Davis and an MSW from UC Berkeley, becoming licensed in 1991.