Peter John Beyfus

The Wavering West

Kamala Harris, the Vice-President of the United States,  has urged the Israeli Government to be more stringent in avoiding civilian casualties in Gaza. The evidence from the IDF, supported by reliable independent sources, confirms Palestinians have been leafleted, giving fair warning of areas, under the control of Hamas, that are to be the target of military action.

Criticism of Israel’s campaign to eliminate or degrade Hamas has been growing ever louder, indicating an unwillingness on the part of the West to be fully supportive of Israel’s war of self-defense. This will give comfort to those who are the sworn enemies of the State, sensing, quite correctly, a lack of resolve; worries about the Moslem populations within national borders and the tendency for young people, many of whom glean news of the conflict from social media sites that are known for their lack of objectivity.

The late statesman, Henry Kissinger, astutely remarked: “No nation can make its survival dependent on the good will of another state.” Israel has always welcomed the moral and military support of friendly nations around the world, in particular the USA, but if that once good friend is now beginning to grow cool, largely because of political pressure and a gesture toward appeasing Arab allies, then Israel must dig deep and not be cowed by those erstwhile allies who now wish to distance themselves from association with a small nation fighting for its survival. The voice of Golda Meir should be the guiding light of Israeli policy: “We don’t thrive on military acts. We do them because we have to, and thank God we are efficient. The Egyptians could run to Egypt, the Syrians to Syria. The only place we could run was into the sea, and before we did that we might as well fight.”

That awful word “disproportionality” keeps cropping up, as a means to discredit the IDF, citing the number of Palestinian civilians killed compared with Israelis. Those who mouth the statistics, incidentally provided by the Palestinian Health Authority, under the control of Hamas, an organization that is proscribed by most civilized countries. There are, of course, exceptions, Turkey being one. Erdogan, insisting Hamas is not a terrorist outfit, conveniently forgets this war was started by Hamas and, by its very nature, an urban conflict. This will inevitable mean higher civilian casualties because Hamas uses its own people as human shields. There has been throughout the Hamas-Israel war a very simple equation that the rest of the world seemingly cannot grasp: return all the hostages = negotiation; but, of course, Hamas doesn’t want to engage in what is a perfectly reasonable approach to conflict; rather its aim is to win the hearts and minds of easily-led people, often young and impressionable, to accept its litany of lies. Distorting casualty figures is one thing but bastardising language is another. Words and expressions like genocide”, “ethnic cleanings”, “Holocaust” are now the currency of debate among those opposed to Israel’s right to protect its own people. The sad truth is too many people are happy to go along with these deplorable views and this provides even more succor to terrorists.

Israel does not reject advice from democratic partners, countries that speak the same “language”; what is galling is blatant hypocrisy from those whose history is more tarnished than Israel’s! Vladimir Putin, the man who launched the war against the Ukraine has been vocal in support of Hamas. Russia does not enjoy an unsullied history when making war on other nations. The Chechen wars of the 1990s, in part sparked by Chechen acts of “terror” is a case in point; but even more grave was the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Between 1979-1989, a minimum of 500,000 civilians were killed compared with about 15,000 Soviet soldiers: proportionate? And the USA does not come out of the analysis smelling of roses. The post 9/11 actions cost the lives of at least 432,000 Afghani, Iraqi and Pakistani civilians! In excess of 7,000 Americans have died since 9/11. Proportionate? Playing with statistics does not help to bring about peace but they do expose the double standards of countries that should think twice before questioning Israel’s conduct of a very challenging war. Perhaps those countries that have first-hand experience of fighting an urban war would like to proffer advice, specifically how to minimize civilian casualties. The aforementioned have not, from the figures quoted, been that successful!

What can the West do to hasten the end of this war? First by supporting Israel’s efforts to defeat Hamas and signaling to the rest of the world Israel is doing all in its power to limit civilian casualties while fighting a ruthless enemy that cares nothing for the people it purports to represent. Second to make sure the media gives accurate coverage of events on the ground, taking to task misreporting that has become the hallmark of a once greatly respected public broadcaster, the BBC. This will go some way to counter the sinister influence of some social media platforms. Third to encourage more responsible Palestinian politicians to become involved in post-war negotiations; and this behoves Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, to work tirelessly for peace between his people and Israelis. It is crystal clear from Hamas’s charter and the raucous voices on the streets of many capital cities that the destruction of Israel is the end game. What we can say, and I quote the memorable words of Golda Meir:  “If the Arabs put down their guns there would be no more fighting. If the Israelis put down theirs there would be no more Israel”, and the latter, Hamas, is not going to happen!

Am Yisrael Chai!

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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