Israel is not a pantomime villain

The hypocrisy over Israel is appalling

May 20, 2021 16:23

I left my life in Israel a few months after the previous missile conflict there in 2014. Then, like now, Hamas was firing waves of rockets into Israel. The timing wasn’t great for me personally as my wedding was scheduled to take place around the time hostilities erupted. The advice we were told to pass on to the guests was that if sirens went off during the event they should run to a deserted part of the outdoor venue and lie on the ground with their hands over their heads.

In the end a short-lived ceasefire ensured that the wedding went ahead without the need to worry.

The difference between then and now appears to be that Hamas has figured out how to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence umbrella and quite a few more missiles seem to be getting through than in 2014.

While living in Israel I was a pretty ferocious critic of the country’s policies. But watching the unfolding reaction online and on the streets of London I’m struck by the hypocrisy of so many people who consider themselves to be morally forthright.

In the United Kingdom we live under an umbrella of security that stretches so wide that we don’t bat an eyelid when the RAF drops bombs on terrorists thousands of miles away in Syria who may, or may not, be plotting to do us harm. Yet  when Israeli jets drop bombs on an enemy who is actually shooting at them we see an outcry. Even Corbyn didn’t lament that not enough Britons have been murdered at the hands of ISIS to justify British bombs whereas calls such as those by James Cleverly for so-called proportionality are endemic when it comes to Israel.

In recent days Israel has been rocked by ethnic violence from within as well as by rockets launched from Gaza. From Jerusalem to Jaffa, Arab and Jew have engaged in mob violence in their cities. Social media is awash with videos of this violence. Ironically it is this violence which makes a different point entirely. These cities are home to Arabs and Jews who live side by side. They live in the same apartment blocks, they share the same streets, offices and businesses. This kind of rioting could never happen in an apartheid state by virtue of the fact that in an apartheid state the populations are…apart.

The people looking at the violence taking place in these cities and shaking their heads may want to reflect on what an achievement it was for Arab and Jew to live side by side in the same cities for decades without violence in a region where Israel was at war with the Arab states surrounding it since its creation. This could never happen elsewhere in the Middle East as, of course, the ancient Jewish communities of Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere were forced to flee in the wake of the founding of the state of Israel.

Community relations in Israel are hardly perfect, or even good, but they’re a lot better than a few social media videos make them out to be.

What concerns me most about this trend of seeing Israel as a pantomime villain is the fact that Israel is attacked by people in London who claim to be advocates of democracy who are standing on the side of a regime that is avowedly anti-democratic.

The substance of this conflict is ignored by such people who prefer to look at the body count. It is true that once the gloves have come off and the shooting starts then people are going to die. But while MPs have been pontificating about what Israel needs to do and attending marches against Israel where they wring their hands over the danger to Gazans, they might want to ask themselves what they’ve ever done to help the people of Gaza escape the clutches of Hamas and what they’ll do to help them in the future. A Gazan government committed to democracy and with the best interests of its citizens at heart will do a lot more to ensure a long-term de-escalation of tensions than any demonstration ever will.

What is the UK doing to make this a reality for the people of Gaza?

What are the MPs who make speeches outside the Israeli embassy in London doing to tackle the hardships faced by Gazans as a result of the Hamas government?

My assumption has always been that were the UK to come under sustained attack then we would respond robustly, but perhaps this is no longer true. Perhaps the enduring legacy of our times has been to convince a generation that, not just Israel but all of the West is deserving of Hamas rockets fired on their cities. Maybe the politicians and people so keen to demonstrate outside of the Israeli Embassy really do hope that Israel will cease to exist, replaced by a ‘popular’ regime which would dominate the lives of its citizens with an iron fist bringing misery and horror to all those unfortunate enough to live under it.

Perhaps they hope for the same thing to happen in London to kick out the democratically elected Tories and impose some other form of government instead. If this is the direction that our new woke politics is moving in then count me out. Freedom of speech, democratic rule, freedom of the press, these are things worth defending and they are the very things Hamas hates the most about Israel.

Those who hate Israel can’t have it both ways, if Israel is the villain in this story then Hamas is the hero of the story, the heroic, theocratic dictatorship aiming its weapons at civilians. When push comes to shove I know which side I’m on.



May 20, 2021 16:23

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