14 Comments

Everything is justified, because Hamas

Hamas, Hamas, Hamas, you didn’t mention Hamas!

Such is the cry that goes up whenever one sees an Israeli spokesperson on the news, or hears them on the radio. And, unsurprisingly, it’s been levelled at me in response to my blog about actions that people can take over the massacre in Gaza.

It’s the cry of the apologist. A pathetic whinge by people desperate to hold onto what they presumably view as a valid excuse for the humanitarian emergency they have bought into being. A particularly vile example of this was a representative on Channel 4 recently telling Jon Snow (who has been reporting from Gaza) that Israel is making ‘literally super-human efforts’ to avoid civilian casualties. In the face of all the evidence, such assertions are absurd. Sickeningly so. And that’s why no one is buying them.

I’ve also been told that the things I’ve said are a ‘single-minded attempt to pin all blame on the Jews.’ Two things in here. Firstly, this notion that anyone that criticises Israel is anti-Jewish is so absurd as to be laughable. The world isn’t speaking out against the actions of Israel because it’s a Jewish state. The world is speaking out against Israel because of the atrocities it is committing. I know there are terrible people that are jumping on this situation as an opportunity to espouse anti-Semitic views. I’m not one of them. Nor of most of us who are condemning the actions of Israel. Secondly, to quote a reporter that I read today (Robert Fisk, in ‘I’ by the Independent) ‘Blame game?! Do they think this is a bloody football match?’ Don’t be bleating at me with your claims of ‘but they started it! It’s all their fault!’ This is not the time for discussing ‘the complexities of the region’s history’. Discuss history, say sorry to one another, and sort out your political differences around the table like the civilised people you pretend to be. In the meantime, stop killing people and, even more importantly, stop pretending you have every right to be killing people. And when you do sit around that table, perhaps you could negotiate a peace that treats Palestinians like human beings and doesn’t keep them living in a ghetto with Israel controlling every aspect of their lives.

Everything that needs to be said about Hamas has been said. They’re the democratically elected government of Palestine. They don’t recognise the sovereignty of the occupying nation of Israel. They fire inaccurate rockets indiscriminately towards Israel, and this is in violation of International law. I don’t dispute that the rockets shouldn’t be fired. Nor do I doubt that Israelis are genuinely frightened of those rockets. I know little about Hamas, but I gather they’re unpopular; plenty of bad stuff gets said about them. And their actions do not appear to be in the pursuit of peace. My condemnation of Israel doesn’t mean that I think Hamas are heroes. My condemnation of Israel does not mean I support Hamas. My condemnation is about the infliction of suffering upon the Palestinian people. This includes the current assault, it includes the blockade, it includes the daily inequalities experienced by Palestinian people.

Whilst we’re on the subject, I’ll take a moment to respond to the person that said ‘if Hamas wasn’t firing rockets, Israel wouldn’t be doing this’  with this, from Noura Erakat (human rights lawyer);

Immediately preceding Israel’s most recent operation, Hamas rocket and mortar attacks did not threaten Israel. Israel deliberately provoked this war with Hamas. Without producing a shred of evidence, it accused the political faction of kidnapping and murdering three settlers near Hebron. Four weeks and almost 700 lives later, Israel has yet to produce any evidence demonstrating Hamas’s involvement. During ten days of Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank, Israel arrested approximately 800 Palestinians without charge or trial, killed nine civilians and raided nearly 1,300 residential, commercial and public buildings. Its military operation targeted Hamas members released during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011. It’s these Israeli provocations that precipitated the Hamas rocket fire to which Israel claims left it with no choice but a gruesome military operation.

(Read her full debunking of the popular apologist memes here: http://m.thenation.com/article/180783-five-israeli-talking-points-gaza-debunked)

However, putting aside ‘who shot first’ for the moment, let’s just say ‘Hamas is firing rockets at Israel’. This would mean that, as the occupying force, Israel has a right to take proportional action against such illegal and dangerous activities. There is nothing proportional about what Israel is doing. It also has a duty to protect the people of Palestine: people that have no legitimate means to defend themselves against Israel’s attack. Furthermore, what Israel has no right to do is to carry out collective punishment. And what we’re seeing is collective punishment. Some would go as far as to say it’s genocide; using the tenuous excuse of ‘Hamas! Hamas! Hamas!’ to wipe out an entire people.

This isn’t a balanced situation. We don’t need to balance out what Israel is doing with what Hamas is doing every time there’s yet another Israeli attack. We don’t need to mention Hamas when we talk about the latest Israeli strike on a hospital, care home, school, Mosque, power station, news centre, ambulance, home or playground. We don’t need to mention Hamas when we’re talking about the 200,000 refugees crammed into UN facilities that can’t support them and, thanks to Israel’s constant and indiscriminate bombardment, can’t keep them safe. We just need to talk about the fact that people are dying, and that it needs to stop.

Hamas breaks international law by firing rockets. It shouldn’t be doing that. Quite aside from anything else, it shouldn’t do it because it gives Israel all the excuse it needs to continue to kill Gazans.

What would apologists like us to say? Perhaps something like this:

I recognise that the people of Palestine are grateful that the Israeli army, which has described itself as the most moral army in the world, is being so rigorous and diligent in its efforts to eradicate the terror organisation of Hamas once and for all. I’m confident that the people understand the need, sad though it is, for the IDF to bomb homes, civilian buildings and community areas, because it is possible that a member of Hamas could be hiding there, or could be hiding weapons there. It is also known that Hamas puts people into these public places and makes them stay there, so they can be used as human shields. However, this tactic doesn’t work, because the Israeli army is implacable. If Hamas puts civilian targets in its way, the IDF will, with regret and great sadness, kill the civilians in order to get to the militants. Furthermore, I’m sure the people of Palestine recognise that it is necessary for all borders to Gaza to be sealed, in order to prevent any members of Hamas from escaping. I don’t doubt that the people of Palestine will understand completely the regrettable need to kill their families and destroy their homes. Even if every last Gazan needs to be killed in order to stop Hamas continuing to violate international law, then that is what Israel is prepared to do. Because this is the moral thing to do, and the only way to ensure a lasting peace for the region.

There. I mentioned Hamas. I mentioned them a lot.

Now then, what about Israel’s violations of international law? Let’s see. If I’ve understood correctly, the violations include;

  • Using military might against an occupied people (who have no legitimate means of defence) in a way that is disproportionate to the threat
  • Directly targeting civilians and civilian buildings without sufficient evidence of military involvement/use
  • Targeting medical personnel and facilities
  • Targeting UN facilities and refugee shelters
  • Failing to protect civilians
  • Collective punishment against an entire population

I would imagine that corralling a people into a small area and preventing their escape is also a breach of humanitarian law. And this is without mentioning the on-going violations caused by the existence of the blockade and the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

(You can find out more about the legalities of the occupation and the assault on Gaza here: http://lphr.org.uk/)

If you are one of those people that believe that everything that is happening is justified – because Hamas, then you are a poor excuse for a human being. Take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. Know that you are complicit in the death of every child in Palestine. When the dust settles and leaders in Israel are hauled before the International Criminal Court, know that you belong in the dock with them. You didn’t just allow this to happen, you didn’t just turn a blind eye, you encouraged it. You believed it to be right. You are every bit as guilty as the people pulling the triggers.

Whilst there are people that believe that the end always justifies the means, that mass murder is ok ‘when it’s us doing it’, then the world can never know peace. And you, apologists and supporters of such slaughter, you will never know peace in your heart.

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14 comments on “Everything is justified, because Hamas

  1. There was a comment on Sean Hannity’s show saying that we are now friends with Germany and Japan even though we were once enemies.

    The only solution, as was shown in Ireland, is get everyone involved in a political settlement.

    • Certainly violence hasn’t worked. Hatred can’t ever be an answer. Talking needs to happen. Perhaps including other players – but those that will speak for both Israel and Palestine. Palestine isn’t going to accept a solution that doesn’t address the blockade and the inequalities the Palestinians experience. I understand Israel is a proud nation, but I can’t see how this will ever end if they’re isn’t some movement towards improving life for Palestinians.

  2. Well articulated. Thank you. I feel I can articulate myself better on the topic. x And for any apologists reading this and think I have read an opinion and am now adopting it – as many many people have done by trusting their media – this is not my case. I have visited the West Bank and have seen the Apartheid for my own eyes. I really can not think of another way to describe it. And yes, I believe this is genocide. Killing with racist intent is genocide to me. Many ‘apologists’ are not racists I know, but if you are supporting the Israeli government then you are supporting a racist state where different citizens have varying rights depending on their ethnicity and religious views, and that is within Israel as well as in the Palestinian states. For example I witnessed an Israeli born Arabic Christian turn and sit in the isle of the public bus we were on in Israel because as White Israeli-born civilian (on a break from conscription) wanted to take up two seats and it was fully booked. This is the generally accepted situation and it took a prompt from me and then a physical move from a brave white Israeli citizen to make room for the man. Know what you are supporting and stand in the dock with them.

    This is just a small neat symptomatic example of a very wide cultural norm which runs deep. Walking around the West Bank however I felt very little racism against me as a white Brit. Interesting.

    • Thank you Di. I imagine it will take a long time for this apartheid to end. A long time for reconciliation and for people to change hearts and minds. I’m seeing some of those very deeply held beliefs on my page about ’10 things’. Lots of Israelis see the Palestinians as less than human.

  3. Woohoo, loved reading this article. One thing that frustrates me again and again is the “anti-semetic” card played by Israelis when critised over the dreadful massacre in Gaza. You’re absolutely right when saying, to criticise Israel is not to be anti-semetic. More over, the Arab peoples are also a semitic people. But this is not a well known fact as the term “semitic” has been hijacked by Israeli propagandists and made synonymous with Judaism.

    • Oh that’s interesting. Didn’t know that! In a recent comment I was also accused of hating everyone non-white. Somewhat perplexed over that one! 🙂 I am angry. I will fully admit to that. I’m angry because I’m heartbroken at what I’m witnessing. But hate is never helpful. Hate keeps the cycle of violence going. There are plenty of Jewish people equally angry and sad about what’s happening. There were plenty of them on the march in London carrying banners saying ‘not in my name’! I’m getting, unsurprisingly, a fair amount of backlash about this. I’m attempting to respond with appeals to humanity. This can only be resolved if people can stop trying to win points, stop fighting and start listening and thinking with their hearts. Thank you for your kind comments.

  4. Interesting and well-intentioned piece, however there are a few factual errors and inconsistencies which undermine it – this isn’t exhaustive but:

    1. To say “Everything that can be said about Hamas has been said.” is to ignore that “Everything that can be said about Israel has been said.” It’s a pointless statement which only serves to show partiality.

    2. Hamas were the elected representatives after the 2006 elections – until they engaged in a bloody civil conflict with Fatah in the Gaza strip the following year, at which point the Palestinian Authority dismissed their governance. Effectively at this point they are dictatorial warlords over the Gaza strip, having disarmed other militia groups they deemed a threat to themselves and diverted aid payments, government payments and construction materials into their ‘war effort’. The people of Gaza are at least as much hostages to them as to Israel.

    3. Noura Erakat may claim Hamas rocket and mortar attacks did not threaten Israel prior to the current conflict but they have in fact been firing rockets etc. since 2001, and persistently since January this year. That Israel is competent at building shelters and anti-missile systems does not mean such attacks should be accepted as a fact of life. What provocation does Erakat consider is required to persuade a group with the stated aim of the destruction of Israel to attack Israel? Existing?

    4. On proportionality: Are we to take it that if 3 Israeli children are killed, 3 Palestinian children should be? And vice-versa? Proportional? Proportionality does not exist in military operations in the meaning you seem to use, the aim is not an-eye-for-an-eye – it is to remove your opponents capacity to attack you. There’s a decent simple piece on proportionality and legality here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20415886).

    5. It’s specious to suggest Israel is engaged in genocide or deliberately targeting school etc. – they have the military capability to flatten Gaza in a day if they wanted to, certainly to destroy every school, hospital, mosque, whatever, in a matter of hours (if that). Accidents happen, especially in heavily populated areas and particularly when your opponent is very deliberately (and openly stated in the past) using civilians as a shield. Perhaps they have not been as careful as they could, which would be a war crime, but conflating that with some kind of serious if weirdly half-hearted effort at the eradication of a people isn’t helpful. It also ignores the thousands of Syrian Palestinian refugees allowed into Israel and the thousands who are allowed to use Israeli hospitals every year.

    This does not justify the loss of innocent life, nothing can justify that (not a view held by eg. Hamas), it is always deplorable, but it may at least be explained without resorting to the unthinking demonization of a nation. Understanding the historical context allows you to see why Israel acts as it does, why the walls, why the border controls. They are people just as much as the Palestinians are.

    • Accidents happen. I would like to hear you say that to a person that has lost their entire family. I’m not a diplomat. I’m not a politician. I don’t trade with Israel. I have no need to pander to you nor to be concerned about how Israel is currently being perceived. It’s not me that’s demonising Israel. Israel is doing that to itself. Hamas never enjoyed a good reputation in the West. Israel has mostly been considered a friend and ally – even though many have been appealing for better rights for Palestinian people for decades. Israel is doing itself no favours by continuing to target civilian areas and then saying ‘Hamas are the bad guys’. It’s absurd. You need to stop using that, and history, as excuses for the continuing atrocities. You need to stop making excuses, stop killing people, and start talking about how you will build peace in the future. A peace that includes rights for the Palestinian people. It’s also absurd to suggest that Israel is somehow doing the people of Palestine some sort of compassionate favour by not wiping them out in one fell swoop as it could. That sentiment’s not going to bring back anyone’s children. It’s not going to win you any friends. Yes, this is an articulately composed piece, I acknowledge that apologists are working ever harder now to find ways to make these war crimes seem fair and just, or at least palatable. Perhaps this will work with other readers – I have decided to publish your comment and let people make up their own minds. It’s certainly not going to wash with me.

    • I think the accidents happen card is worn out. Even if a bomb kills 20 people and three accidents happening is considered acceptable before seeing it as a pattern then that means that there have been over 90 accidents that haven’t been learnt from.

      Further, in terms of revenge for the rockets fired at Israel, I heard that one Israeli civilian was killed and the other deaths have been as a result of direct action by Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Do you think that 1400 Palestinian civilian deaths equate to 1 Israeli civilian dead?

      Hamas and IDF are acting as soldiers and proportionality doesn’t easily fit a model as the intent is to kill all your enemy until they become ‘friendly’ or they are all dead. I’ll leave them out of my consideration for now.

      • ‘Pete’ did reply further James, but I’m not approving his posts. He’s standing by his stance that war crimes are accidents. I’ve decided my blog’s not going to be a platform for people justifying a massacre. He’s welcome to set up his own blog page if he wants his views to be public.

  5. Accidents may be war crimes, that does not make them acceptable nor exempt them from prosecution – that has never been my point.

    Equally in my reply to James I stated that there were undoubtably some ‘bad’ soldiers etc. committing war crimes. These also should be prosecuted.

    My point was that the claims of genocide are clearly wrong and that civilian deaths, while sad, are a part of war.

    It’s a shame you feel you have to censor my posts and then misrepresent my viewpoint, it stifles any meaningful discussion. Yes, I could start my own blog, we could all have our own blogs and people can read them or not read them depending on the view they already have – or we could have a conversation and perhaps everybody learns something. Otherwise why enable comments at all? You simply want an echo-chamber to praise you?

    • But there is a chain of command and when bad stuff keeps happening then the blame must keep going up the chain of command until when it becomes a case of policy born of inaction.

      The first ‘accident’ is the fault of the individual, the second is the NCOs and then commanding officer and eventually it becomes the ministers responsibility.

      1600 deaths over a space of a month is not an accident and more than running over someone in your car and then reversing over them to make sure you got them.

      I would say that, after the first week, it was clear that enough civilians had died and at least one Hamas member too. That might have been seen as justice and then the Israelis could have taken their time to be surgical about taking out Hamas if that was their aim. Iron Dome protects Israeli citizens to such an extent that if the fight dragged out for a year then the minimal lose of Palestinian civilian deaths would have undermined Hamas in Gaza. By slaughtering over 1000 civilians in a month, Israel have shown the Palestinians how cheap their lives are considered.

  6. I don’t enjoy reading your comments. I don’t want them on my page. I’m free to censor as I wish. To quote a favourite author speaking about readers making demands of another author: ‘I’m not your bitch’. And that’s all that I need say.

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