Earlier this month on Independent Voices, Mira Bar-Hillel wrote a passionate denunciation of Israeli conduct in Gaza. One of the most read and most shared pieces in the history of the site, it made waves around the world and led to Bar-Hillel appearing on BBC Radio’s Today programme.
This is my response to this piece published on the Independent's website, it itself a response to another post which is linked inside this piece.
'Let's talk facts. Every missile shot by Hamas is a blunt violation of two Geneva Convention articles: shooting missiles from inside civilian population centers, and shooting them indiscriminately at Israeli population centers. Israel, on the other hand, directs its attacks strictly at military targets.
Would you, a private citizen of Great Britain not demand your government to defend you against enemy shooting rockets at London? You actually did, and in response, your government firebombed the German city of Dresden and annihilated millions of civilians across Germany.
Your leaders saw no need to regard German civilians differently than they did the German military, not because they didn’t care for the innocent, but because had they tried to win the war while keeping German civilians unharmed they would have lost the war and possibly their freedom.’
To start with, I’ll just make it clear I don’t condone Hamas’ offensives any more than I condone Israels’ - because wars are stupid and bloody and violent and innocent people die. So obviously the ideal thing would be for everyone to just stop. But obviously that’s not gonna happen. I also don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough to state whether or not I think Hamas is or is not a terrorist organisation - apparently some countries think they are, while others don’t. The fact that most of the countries that do think they are are mostly pro-Israel speaks for itself, however.
‘Shooting missiles from inside civilian population centers.' My understanding is that Palestine is a heavily populated state, so that it would be impossible to fire from anywhere else really? Shaked then goes on to say that Palestine fires at civilian populated areas. If they do, then that is evil of them, and I would condemn it - but Israel's defence system is way superior to Palestine's offensive - and the very low death toll in Israel compared to the thousands of dead in Palestine indicates this. Shaked finally says that Israel only targets military targets. Sure - that is probably why there's such a large civilian death toll in Palestine right now. And according to Islam Channel, a Palestinian hospital is currently under fire. Clearly a military target.
‘But because had they tried to win the war while keeping German civilians unharmed they would have lost the war and possibly their freedom.’
Firstly I’d like to think that weapons nowadays are far superior than they were 70 years ago, to the point where Israel doesn’t need to harm Palestinian civilians. BUT that’s not the thing which stands out here. I really hope Shaked isn’t implying here that Israel’s freedom is at all at risk, because that is bordering on idiocy. There is no risk at all to Israel’s freedom.
- ‘Doesn’t Israel have the right to defend itself?’
According to ‘International Law and the UN Resolution 1514, Palestine has the right to resist occupation, Israel however, does not have the right to suppress thatresistance.’
So no, Israel doesn’t have the right. Israel isn’t simply defending itself. It’s own defence systems are clearly working brilliantly because hardly any Israeli’s (if at all any) have died in the last 18 days, while at least a couple of hundred almost a thousand Palestinians have. So Israel isn’t simply defending itself, it’s also attacking and murdering them.
‘As Bar-Hillel put it: “In Israel, in spite of Hamas’s best efforts, not one death has been recorded, nor any serious injuries, although a wedding party was disrupted and got on the television news.”
Besides being inaccurate even at the time, she actually finds fault in the fact that fewer Israelis died. Never mind that this war began with a clear Hamas decision to escalate the conflict, a decision borne by political and economic motives, and not an ounce of care to their own civilians.’
Bar-Hillel was not finding fault in the fact fewer Israelis have died, she was simply indicating the sheer disproportionateness of the situation, in which hundreds of Palestinians have died, and not many Israelis. Again, those innocent Israelis who have died, I mourn for them as much as I mourn for the Palestinians. Any life lost in a stupid conflict is a worthless death. But the sheer unbalence of the situation can’t be ignored.
To her second point, I feel this post by putonyourbathingsuits explains it best.
- ‘While Israel invests heavily in protecting its civilians, Hamas protects its weapons with its civilians.’
Again, my understanding is that Palestine is so overpopulated, there is no where for civilians to go. Today itself, Israel declared 44% of Palestine a war zone. I don’t know where Israel expected 44% of Palestinians to go.
- ‘Hamas is not attacking only the Jews, it’s attacking the Israeli democracy, comprised of more than a million non-Jews.’
Again, I am uncertain as to what Israeli freedom or democracy is at all in risk here …
'Bar-Hillel loses all moral ground when she delves into the Holocaust, and actually compares the Jewish State, myself included, to the Nazis.
“She made me think about my mother’s sister Klara and her three small children who were living in Krakow in 1939 when the Germans invaded,” she writes. “They decided that the Jews – all Jews – were the enemy and had to be eliminated, not least the women and the little snakes they were raising. ‘Why? Ask them – they started it,’ as the Nazis would say if asked.”
This is how she responds to an article from 12 years ago which I quoted on my Facebook page, and which pinned the blame for initiating the violence squarely on the Arab side.
That is, of course, an ignorant comparison. The Nazis viewed Jews as a racial impurity in the German blood. They did not envision a conflict, armed or otherwise, which the Jews somehow provoked and now they, the Nazis, were retaliating for. They believed we were a virus that threatened their well-being by our very existence.’
I personally haven’t made comparison between the massacre of Palestinaians and the Holocaust, because I feel it could cause more controversy that would only take away from the matter at hand - but I also wouldn’t condemn anyone who did make the comparison.
Firstly, Shaked doesn’t take this opportunity to explain what she meant by her previous statement of:
“Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
Bar Hillel interprets this as Shaked ‘calling for the deaths of innocent women and their unborn babies.’ Shaked doesn’t deny this at all. I also feel she misunderstands the motive behind the comparison. Now some people, I’m sure, are making the comparison because they feel the Israeli government’s motives for the massacre of Palestinians is, like the Holocaust, one of racial impurity. Other people think it’s because of capitalism, some as retaliation, whatever. I’m not going to get into what the causes of the conflict to start with were, because a. that’s another topic all together an b. I don’t consider myself knowledgeable on the topic enough to do so.
But I feel the most important point behind the comparison, if it must be made, is that one power, far superior to the other, is killing hundreds of innocents of a specific nationality, and not allowing them to escape anywhere. I feel most people who make the comparison are trying to at least make this point. That what we have is a mass-killings of a race of people.
- ‘When the IDF alerts civilians in Gazan neighborhoods—dumping leaflets from the air, texting their phones before the actual barrage — Hamas tells them to stay and die like martyrs. It is a tragic situation for the Palestinian population, and I wish, of course, that Hamas would not use its’ civilians as human shields so that no one innocent will get hurt, but the truth need to be said — as long Hamas is doing so, they are to be blame for the results.’
Now, I don’t know if Hamas are telling people to die like martyrs. Reports from Palestinians claim they aren’t being forced by the Hamas to do anything, but of course one could say they were being forced to do that. But the point still stands - where exactly do the population of Palestine go, when their homes are being bombed. They’re not allowed into Israel, and they can’t damn well walk into the sea. So there’s still that.
And finally the title of the entry: ‘Israel is attempting to deal rationally with an enemy crazed with lust for our death.’
I’m not entirely sure how bombing and massacring thousands of innocent people is a ‘rational’ response to anything. And, from what I understand, while there may be some Hamas people who want to destroy Israel (which is silly), there are others who just want self-determination for Palestine and peace and freedom and independence.
So yeah. That was my response to this ludicrous article. I also want to reiterate that I don’t feel myself to be at all an expert or even knowledgable about the conflict. All I really know is that people, innocent people, are dying in their tens and hundredsand are being oppressed. The sad fact is when you have a conflict that is twisted so much by the media, it’s hard to know what the facts really are.