This is a reply to Sam Raff’s article “Gaza: Who to believe?” To counter any misunderstanding, I would first like to commend his article as one of the most sensible views (or rather, lack of them) that I have come across about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nonetheless I think I can help him decide upon the situation.
Mr Raff stresses the hyperbole of the anti-Israeli media and the consequences of the Hamas supporters’ opinions, i.e. the destruction of Israel as a state. He simultaneously notes Israel’s over-reaction, and the apparent lack of concern for Palestinian loss of life. He deduces that it is impossible, amongst a debate of half-truths and passionate rhetoric, to decide who to believe, or who is in the wrong.
It seems the base of much opinion turns on who acts the worse in this conflict. Pro-Israelis’ will denounce the terror tactics of Hamas and the Palestinian support of a terrorist organisation. Pro-Palestinians will decry the use of white phosphorus and the disregard that Israeli’s have for Palestinian life.
Such a stance is misleading if we are to decide who to support. This is a conflict and each side thinks the other wrong and themselves right, thus deploying any method to eradicate the evil-doers on the other side. Was Britain wrong to raze Dresden to the ground? War is not pleasant, war lacks morals and war lacks humanity, but if one thinks themselves in the right, there’s no telling of the means to their ends. It is useless to stand and criticise methods when both sides think the other evil, and indeed it leads to a pointless cycle of endless blame-games.
More than anything though, it is a propaganda war and down to the finest detail, the truth is fickle. My point is that if we want to decide whose side to join lets not look at who acts the worse as they are both as bad as each other. In any case Hamas uses the only tactics it can, and Israel uses what endless US resources it possesses to achieve its security.
What do we do in such a situation to decide where we ourselves stand? Just because both sides seem insane it doesn’t mean we cannot align ourselves generally with one. We must consider what the supporters actually think, and herein lies Mr. Raff’s fallacy; to generalise over the views of the anti-Israel supporters and the pro-Palestinians is to provide an unfair account of what they believe. For example, I do not think that a necessary consequence of empathising with Palestinian plight entails that one desires the destruction of Israel which Mr. Raff seems to suggest.
I now attempt to present a version of the pro-Palestinians’ stance in line with what I believe people are saying when they say they are pro-Palestinians; not anti-Israeli, or pro-Hamas, but pro-Palestinian people, the ones who are suffering.
Currently, Israel aims to destroy Hamas. There are no qualms about this; it has been stated as a military objective to eradicate the power of Hamas to launch Qassam rockets into Israel. But the destruction of Hamas will achieve few results. If it is achieved it will have to be through the deaths of thousands, which in Palestine will merely cause another terrorist group to spring up from the blood of its predecessor, and with worse consequences across the Islamic world. Terrorism is a many-headed hydra, and when you cut off its head aggressively, another will grow.
Why is this? Hamas was voted in by Palestinians in order to achieve something and Hamas wants Israel gone. But do we really think that the majority of Palestinians, most of whom want merely what every human wants; to get along in life, want to engage in an impossible, endless war against Israel backed by the might of the USA? I personally doubt it. Yes I doubt that Palestinian mothers and fathers want to raise their children into an uncertain future of endless bloody struggle against a rock they know they cannot move.
I believe that in voting in Hamas, the Gazans were sick of starving to death in a strip of barren, God-forsaken land to which Fatah offered absolutely no solution, and had proved completely ineffectual, with help from empty American words and broken Israeli promises.
I am only suggesting, and I believe the majority of pro-Palestinians would too, that the Gazans are not an aggressive people addicted to suicide bombings and blood letting, and may actually have real grievances that desperately need addressing. What helps me decide which side to be on is that I don’t think the majority of pro-Israeli’s accept this, and thus my stance is to oppose the side which needs its eyes opened, and I think that side is Israel.
And if anyone thinks I have misrepresented Palestinian views or the situation in general, ask yourselves this; who has the power to change the situation, and thus who does the responsibility lie with? And if you can’t answer that, then it is futile to open your eyes, as you’re already blind.
By Dave Maggs