Long-term peace is no closer after Israel’s reaction

MANY of my constituents, judging from my email inbox, are appalled at Israeli action against Gaza in the last few days. Most of the messages I’ve received have been couched in quite sensible, moderate terms, though the anger and dismay of the writers is no less apparent.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel and the Middle East, western writers and demonstrators find it almost impossible to use sensible or, dare I say it – proportionate – language. One of the many demonstrations outside the Commons a few years ago named Blair, Bush and (then Israeli prime minister, Ariel) Sharon as “the world’s greatest terrorists”. When faced with that kind of half-witted rhetoric, there really is no point in engaging, is there?

Someone who can always be relied upon to bring some sense and perspective to recent events is David Aaronovitch. In today’s Times, he pleads lucidly and wisely for some sensible use of language when analysing recent events. And because his knowledge and understanding of Israel and its history is so much greater than my own, I will opt for the lazy option and simply endorse what he says:

When Hamas refused to renew the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ten days ago, and then when it allowed a series of rocket attacks on Israel, what did its leadership think was likely to happen? We know that it was warned by both Egypt and its Fatah rivals that there would be an Israeli reaction, but did Hamas believe such warnings were exaggerated, or did it want there to be such an attack? Unlike the Israeli Government, whose representatives have been all over the media in the past two days, at the time of writing not one Hamas bigwig had put himself up for interrogation.

… the friends of the Palestinians would be best advised to put pressure on Hamas never to launch another of its bloody rockets and to stop its death-laden rhetoric, and the friends of Israel well placed to cajole it into making a settlement seem worthwhile. All else is verbiage.

Last year a constituent – a former member of the Labour Party, as it happens – came to see me at my surgery and asked me to write to the Foreign Secretary concerning Israel. We chatted about the various issues, and at the root of his concerns was the fact that Israel exists at all. He saw the “two state solution”  as fundamentally unfair to the Palestinians whose claim to the whole of Israel (including Israel within its pre-1967 borders) he thought should be honoured.

Of course, it’s far too easy – and inaccurate – to claim that all Palestinians and every one of Israel’s western critics want to have Israel removed from the map. Most hope earnestly for a two-state solution.

But it is also true that there is a clear reluctance to condemn Hamas as supporters of Islamist terrorism, or the firing of thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian areas from Gaza over the years.

Aaronovitch is undoubtedly right to predict that the Israeli reaction to the attacks from Gaza will do nothing to secure the elusive long-term peace that most Israelis and Palestinians are desperate to achieve.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Long-term peace is no closer after Israel’s reaction

  1. Chris' Wills

    Though Israel’s response is possibly over the top (not commeasurate with Hamas’ attacks) I doubt that Hamas are suprised.

    Israel always has returned attacks 10 for 1 and so I think Hamas knew and wanted what has happened.
    Most muslims will, initially side with the injured and maimed inside Gaza just as most people will; either forgetting or not caring about those Hamas kill in Israel and they’ll ignore Hamas preventing the movement of injured people to Egypt (Egyptian ambulances have been held up at the border).

    They want a cause celebre to justify their lack of action on internal civil matters (they do control the Gaza).
    Also, Like Hezbollah, Hamas have no intention of reaching an amicable accord; their stated aim has always been the destruction of Israel and any truce is always temporary.

    As always, the innocent suffer to appease the greed and desire for power of inept politicians/warlords who, in this case, only seem to know how to fight.

    They could learn a lesson or two from Hezbollah, who do seem to know how to deliver local services as well as how to fight.

  2. John

    Israel’s actions are an absolute disgrace. I can’t condemn them enough.

    I understand that it must be awful live in Israel and have Hamas home made rockets flying over your heads on a daily basis, with at least one of those rockets killing 4/5 people when they manage to hit a populated area. Let’s be clear about that, Israel’s actions are hardly unprovoked.

    However, my problem is that Israel’s solution involves leveling the Gaza strip and killing everyone in it. As far as proportional responses go, that verges on genocide.

    Not every Palestinian is a member of Hamas, and in fact most are not. Hamas just mingle with ordinary people. Yet Israel will level schools with children inside, hospitals, apartment blocks until the streets are lined with blood. Recent images show screaming children covered in blood, running down the street carrying what’s left of their parents bodies, often arms, hands etc…

    That makes me physically sick! How the hell is that a proportional response?

    One Israeli women even had the balls to label Gaza’s events “fantastic”, complaining that her child had to endure 6 rocket sirens on her 6 minute walk to school. Yeah, how fantastic to see that in response to your child’s traumatic trips to school, the Gaza strip now flows with the blood of it’s people, and their children now run from Israeli war planes carring what’s left of their parents.

    Israel have really gone too far this time. Yes they endure horrific and tormentuous attacks from Hamas, but the slaughter of the Palestinian people is not, and can NEVER be a proportionate response to that.

    I am horrified by recent events.

  3. Johnny Norfolk

    I agree with your responce Tom.
    Hamas has not made a single peace move, and this was bound to happen in fact they have been firing more rockets today.
    Its a sad fact that in the end war settles these kind of disputes.

  4. richard

    Israel don’t seem to be in the mood to undertake a proportional response.

    Personally I agree wholeheartedly with their decision to deliberately target Hamas compounds, rocket sites, etc and while I recognise that civilian casualties are being caused (on both sides) the Israelis at least have the justification that Hamas are intentionally targetting civilians whereas Israel appear to be making something of an effort to avoid the deaths of innocent bystanders.

  5. Annie Besant

    Yeah, go on, take the lazy option. I have to say, after feeling terrible since Saturday, the very mention of Aaronovitch’s name on this subject made me laugh out loud.

  6. Annie Besant

    I can’t believe the stupid comments on here.  Are these people your FRIENDS?  Is this what your murderous party THINKS?

  7. John

    “Personally I agree wholeheartedly with their decision to deliberately target Hamas compounds, rocket sites, etc and while I recognise that civilian casualties are being caused (on both sides) the Israelis at least have the justification that Hamas are intentionally targetting civilians whereas Israel appear to be making something of an effort to avoid the deaths of innocent bystanders.”

    Sorry, but that whole paragraph is incorrect.

    Israel are targetting Hamas indescriminantly. Just today they levelled an apartment block containing families because they believed a Hamas operative also lived there. That’s a whole building containing innocent men, women and children now dead because Israel thought that targetting a single Hamas operative was worth all of their lives.

    Israel have also levelled schools containing teachers and children because they believed Hamas were firing rockets from there.

    The simple fact is Israel are targetting Hamas wherever they think they may be, and damn the civilian cost. They don’t care if there are civilians around or how many of them there are before they fire. According to Israel’s foriegn minister it’s Hamas’s fault for hiding amongst the general population.

    That’s subhuman. There is no other word for it.

    It is actually upsetting to see the news reports on this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going after Hamas terrorists, but not like this. I can’t fathom how ANYONE can support this?

  8. richard

    Hamas are indiscriminately firing rockets at Israel and worse, they’re choosing to launch their rockets at sites next to hospitals and schools precisely because the Israeli army are forced to either ignore these targets or harm Palestinian civilians.

    I don’t see how Israel is at fault here. I do see that given a straight choice between doing nothing and targetting rocket sites the Israelis have no choice but to defend themselves.

  9. bystander

    Sorry, John, but it’s very difficult to take you seriously when you start off with the claim that Israel is “levelling the Gaza strip and killing everyone in it”. Can’t you see that that kind of ludicrous exaggeration – by people on *both* sides of the conflict – is exactly what makes people switch off the TV and then switch off their minds as well? It would be daft to prescribe calmness to anyone in the immediate area right now, but there’s a lot to be said for people thousands of miles away calming down and thinking carefully before making judgements.

  10. Pendolino Warrior

    Well Tom, I am with you in that I despair of seeing balanced discussion. Abortion, Israel and Animal Rights are in the “sensible discussion unlilkely” category.

    Using your blog to put over your view is a correct thing for an MP to do. I have views and do care but won’t bore you. After all, your comment makers are a self selecting bunch not representative of your constituents. Moreover, as far as commanding the internet space goes, Derek Draper should learn from the supporters of these factions.

    In that context I am interested in your assessment of your in-box. What percentage do you think is from persons driven by a cause? Is there any evidence of “can you write to your MP…” Are the sentiments you get on the internet reflected down the pub, in the shopping centre etc.

    To venture a political comment. The Israel/Palestine situation is a very unsatisfactory controlled stalemate. It is, however, a stalemate with limited global implications. The doctrine of disproportionate response is, however, worrying when applied to India/Pakistan. That is the one to tackle.

  11. Andy

    Completely agree with you, Tom. It’s amusing that the West is condemning Israel while the Arab world’s response (in particular Egypt) is “well, what the **** did you expect Israel to do”.

    There’s a particularly apt quote from an Egyptian newspaper in The Times:

    “The Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram also hinted that Hamas was at least partly to blame for invoking the wrath of Israel with its constant rocket attacks, which appear to serve no strategic purpose. “If you can’t kill the wolf, don’t pull its tail,” it commented.”

    Enough said.

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