Peter John Beyfus

Ratio or Rationality?

The clamour for a ceasefire in the Hamas-Israel war grows ever louder, with pro-Palestinian activists citing the need to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians living in Gaza but no one seems certain how these supplies will not fall into the hands of Hamas, thus refueling its aggression against the IDF. The UN and the WHO is quick to criticize Israel’s right to self-defense but slow to suggest how to deliver essential aid to the people of Gaza, short of allowing Hamas to commandeer food, medical supplies and fuel.

That familiar buzz word “proportionality” has resurfaced to describe the disparity between the number of Israelis murdered by Hamas and the casualties sustained by the Palestinians, the latter figures being supplied by Hamas and therefore far from reliable. For instance, how many Hamas terrorists have been killed? So what ratio would those people who feel there should have been a proportionate response by Israel to the attack on 7 October choose: parity? By that logic Israel having killed 1200 Palestinian, including an unknown number of Hamas combatants, should have withdrawn from Gaza, declaring job done; but how naive can one be! War doesn’t work like that. These misguided, propaganda-susceptible people should read the history of warfare, including what the Americans, British, Germans did in the Second World War. Playing the ratio game is meaningless and plays into the hands of apologists for Hamas and other Arab terrorists groups.

Israel has followed the laws pertaining to modern warfare, avoiding where ever possible civilians, giving fair warning of impending military operations and focussing on intelligence that strongly indicates the prescience of Hamas command centers in public buildings, particularly hospitals and schools; these, of course, all carefully chosen by Hamas to elicit maximum sympathy from the liberal, sentimental West. The IDF has already provided evidence of how Hamas has stored armaments in subterranean tunnels beneath hospitals. 

What is now of concern to Israel’s war aims, to degrade Hamas and replace it with a moderate Palestinian representation, is the mounting pressure in Europe and the USA to back an immediate ceasefire, ostensibly to provide relief to the Gazans. The support for Israel among western democracies has been on the slide soon after 7 October. With sizeable Moslem populations in Britain, France and the USA, in excess of 3 million in each country, politicians are becoming jittery about the prospect of losing votes. In Britain, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has faced rebellion from many in his party for his firm stand in support of Israel and his resistance to back a ceasefire. In the USA the Democrats are piling on the pressure to get President Biden to call for a ceasefire, fearing a negative outcome in next year’s presidential election. Such is the nature of politicians and the fickleness of humanity, generally.

Not all is to be lamented. The Mayor of New York, Eric Adams, has spoken passionately in support of Israel and against the rise in antisemitism. Journalists such as Douglas Murray, who has spent time on the front line in Israel, has given very positive reports of the IDF’s struggle to combat Hamas. It is important those who are privy to what is going going on in the theatre of war continue to provide objective information, thereby countering what is now a constant deluge of misinformation and disinformation from some media outlets. In Britain we have had nothing of the quality of Mayor Adams’ robust defense of Israel’s right to protect its citizens. From the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, just a litany of inflammatory comments and accusations against Israel, notably the misuse of the word “genocide”, that betrays an acute ignorance of the full implication of the term and is deeply insulting to those people who have actually faced attempted extermination of an ethnic group.

About the Author
Peter John Beyfus is an historian, published author, poet, and a person who prides himself on “thinking outside the box”. I have written many essays on Jewish themes, published in various journals, including ‘Wessex Jewish News’ and ‘Westminster Quarterly’, the magazine of Westminster Synagogue, London.
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