Online Opinion, January 9, 2009
There has been a lot of hypocrisy in commentary about the current Hamas-Israeli violence.
About 700 Palestinians – mostly Hamas combatants – have died since December 27, which is when most people think this conflict started. More people than that died in a shorter period of time when violence flared in Congo late last year. Where was the blanket coverage or the mass rallies? Are the Congolese less important than Palestinians?
In the last ten years, 5.4 million people have been killed in Congo. That compares with the estimated 100,000 people (Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, etc) who have been killed in the 60 years of the Arab-Israel conflict. (During the same period, about 12 million Muslims were killed by other Muslims, but that doesn’t make headlines, either.)
What about the fact that this war didn’t start on December 27? Since 2001, Hamas has been shooting rockets into Israeli cities. Not military installations, but cities. When Israel withdrew from every inch of Gaza in 2005, the rockets increased, not decreased. So for eight years Israeli cities were brutalised by Hamas rockets, but the media took notice only when Israel responded.
And when Israel did respond, people accused it of using disproportionate force. What do they want Israel to do? Would a “proportionate” response be to lob an Israeli rocket at a random Palestinian city for every rocket fired at an Israeli city? Would critics have Israel respond to a war crime with a war crime?
Israel has attacked only military targets. Yes, Israel is using more firepower than Hamas, because Israel is trying to destroy Hamas’ ability to fire the rockets. Israel has attacked Hamas’ weapon caches, they’ve attacked Hamas’ headquarters and they’ve attacked places from which Hamas fires rockets.
The problem is Hamas purposefully operates from within civilian areas. That’s a war crime. Hamas is an organisation that attacks Israeli civilians and hides amidst its own civilians, hoping they’ll die when Israel responds. It’s unfathomable to a civilised mind, but Hamas puts its agenda – which it claims is a mission from God – ahead of the lives and well being of Palestinians.
Another hypocritical fallacy I read constantly is people saying, “Israel has a right to defend itself, but …” followed by them condemning every possible option Israel has open to do just that. Thus, they imply Israel is right to defend itself in theory only, but if it tries in practice, it’s wrong. In the words of British columnist Melanie Phillips, Israel is damned if it does, and dead if it doesn’t.
There’s a simple logic all but ignored by the various sycophantic supporters of the Palestinian cause. When Palestinians wage war on Israel, Israel responds. When Palestinians don’t wage war on Israel, Israel doesn’t respond. It’s as simple as that.
That’s why when Hamas came to power in Gaza Israel said, “we’ll recognise and trade with Hamas as soon as Hamas recognises our right to exist, and agrees to no longer target our civilians”. Hardly draconian demands. But Hamas told Israelis to go to hell, then did its best to send them there. Little wonder, then, that Israel refuses to talk or trade with Hamas.
Despite this, Israel allows humanitarian aid into Gaza, and even provides Gaza with water and electricity. And yet people (displaying their ignorance of international law) say that Israel continues to occupy Gaza.
Finally, there is the overt, gross hypocrisy displayed in On Line Opinion on January 6 by Greg Barns, who seeks to make a comparison between Hamas and Israel. You can go to jail in Australia for giving money to Hamas, he writes, but it’s not an offence to give money to Israeli causes. He calls this stance hypocritical.
If Barns were to give Hamas money to help Palestinian civilians, it would free up other money to go to Palestinian terrorists. As it has proven time and again, Hamas is far more interested in tearing down Israel than building up Palestine.
To suggest it’s hypocritical to allow donations to go to Israel is astounding. Israel has freedom of religion, speech and sexuality. Hamas murders Christians, political opponents and gays. Israel is a country trying to get along in the world, and trying to negotiate a two-state resolution to the conflict. Hamas’ motivation has nothing to do with occupation or human rights; it’s about killing Jews. I’d suggest Barns read Hamas’ Charter – it’s there in black and white.