The flipside to Israel-Hamas war

The Russians have been threatening the world with nuclear Armageddon should they get a sufficiently good hiding in Ukraine. They have reserved the right to kill millions of civilians in defence of their aggression against Ukraine.

EVER since the beginning of this latest bout of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, world opinion has been stridently against Israel. Hamas has not only reaped much support, but also and most providentially the condemnation of Israel. This is sad and in a way tragic.

It is tragic because this was exactly what Hamas planned. This rabid anti-Israeli reaction is exactly as ordered by Hamas. Public opinion has failed to hold the latter to account.

What Hamas did is akin to a father who goes next door and slaughters his neighbour’s children and then runs and hides among his own children, shamelessly daring the enraged bereaved father to kill him and his children as well.

What Hamas did was morally reprehensible, it relied on just such a situation obtaining now. It viewed its own people as being expendable for operational expediency. This is not a political or military issue, but a moral one.

The question is to what extent can an organisation morally assume absolute sovereignty over a people up to and including the right to sacrifice their lives in the furtherance of its politico-military objectives?

Hamas deliberately provoked the inevitable and devastating Israeli response we are now witnessing. All wars have a beginning in which one side is reasonably assumed to be fighting a just war.

However, having assumed the moral high ground or had it conferred by majority opinion or consensus does not preclude that co-belligerent from moral interrogation or qualification.

Ukraine, for example, is engaged in an existential struggle, but this does not mean its soldiers by virtue of the moral worthiness of their fight, cannot commit war crimes.

Such acts cannot be excluded from examination or condemnation on the basis that theirs is a just war. They can and ought to be examined isolated from the wider moral and political considerations of the conflict. So it should be for Hamas.

What Hamas did was an egregious assault not on the Israelis alone but on humanity. When we lose all respect for humanity it is humanity’s loss and not just a people. It should be condemned in isolation from the wider political-moral considerations of the Israeli-Palestinian question.

Only such a practical, unbiased moral examination leading to a considered condemnation can dissuade such a cynical political-military strategy in the future and save both Arab and Israeli lives. This is more efficacious than trying to hound Israel into giving up its right to self-defence.

People need to understand just how shocking and barbaric is what Hamas did is. For an organisation to spend months and days planning and rehearsing a special forces operation for the sole purpose of killing civilians: Women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities is an affront to the principle of humanity.

Civilians die as collateral damage in war not as deliberate cold blooded targets. Such thinking exposes for a frightening and inhuman level of callousness. If such people exist what would they do if, say they overran Israel? Would anything stay or sate their callousness? When Israel confronts this evil they must feel a special kind of chill running down their spine.

What Hamas did was to provide a grisly template of what the destruction of Israel would look like. Israel’s reaction is, therefore, not only motivated by anger, but also the cold near panic of an existential threat.

These people will, if given the chance, wipe Israel off the board of existence to the last child.

Israel is not only trying to destroy Hamas in retribution, but is also trying to establish a terrible deterrence. No organisation or State must ever have the gall to carry out such an attack as witnessed on October 7, 2023 even if an opportunity presents itself.

Given a foe as ruthless and disdainful of human life as this, what was Israel supposed to do: Chase them to the border and leave them to plan and execute another such atrocity on another day and instance of their choosing?

Granted there are political processes that need to occur between Israel and the Palestinians, but a struggle between two nations and people must have rules so as to prevent such a tragedy as is unfolding in Gaza.

Hamas struck such a monumental blow against Israel that it must be answered with neither quarter asked for nor given. It is a political, military and psycho-social imperative.

The trappings and mores of war have come off, it is a struggle at a feral level. How can the Israeli response be fine, measured and civilised?

The world must justly condemn Hamas for this war. It should not sacrifice its people for political advantage.

This war presents a moral challenge to all who observe it, unfortunately the world’s response has been political that is why that response has been clearly delineated along geopolitical, geo-religious and racial lines. Unfortunately, people are out to score political points and not make a moral point.

There are no moral judgements here, just political ones. A trite point to note is that some of Israel’s biggest critics have nuclear weapons.

What is a country’s nuclear arsenal other than a statement that: “We, country A, reserve the right in certain circumstances of our definition to indiscriminately target millions of civilians in the defence of our sovereignty and or interests.”

All the countries with nuclear weapons uphold this as national policy. Russia and China have even implicitly reserved the right to end human civilisation if they are sufficiently threatened.

The Russians have been threatening the world with nuclear Armageddon should they get a sufficiently good hiding in Ukraine. They have reserved the right to kill millions of civilians in defence of their aggression against Ukraine.

Israel, unfortunately, has been put into the invidious position of having to kill, albeit accidentally, possibly thousands of civilians.

For them it is not a hypothetical moral conundrum, it is a real global life and death situation in one of the most blood-stained, merciless and savage regions in the world.

The noise currently shaking the world is not moral outrage, but political opportunism, a chance to score points against Israel, the West and in particular America. Neither is it political duplicity but political cynicism.

Some might argue that there is significant opposition in the West itself to the Western political position on these attacks and the Israeli response.

But this perhaps is a symptom of the ill-defined angsty syndrome that has so insidiously wormed its way into and distorted all socio-political discourse as the present day brand of socio-political activism and warrior complex.

This is an inordinate and often unreasoned urge to do good and save the world. It is understandable because this information age has quite overwhelmed us with all the ghastly possibilities that might lead to our demise.

This initiates two emotions in the individual the first is the fear of mankind’s impending doom. The second is an urge to do something, anything. This ill-defined call to action often leads to if not infantilism then a certain naivety.

There are many in the West who are protesting against the Israeli response but none can annunciate what the latter should do in response to the attacks.

What would they have their governments do should they find their own localities desecrated and ravaged as those in Israel are today?

The temptation is to conflate the larger Arab-Israeli issue with the October massacres. The Arab Israeli conflict has always existed, but it has operated within its own mores and rules as has all human combat. War is immoral, but its conduct is not without morals.

This is not really about human compunction, but is a need for even those in combat to maintain their humanity. What Hamas did violated those principles.

Anyone who genuinely feels for the desperate plight of the citizens of Gaza must first address Hamas’ attitude to the moral aspect of war.

Hamas could have made a powerful military and political statement if it had infiltrated the heavily guarded and vaunted Israeli border and then attacked purely military targets.

Each Arab civilian casualty would have been reverberating around the world with greater moral clarity and Israel would not be able to justify a single civilian death.

Only a hurt, humiliated Israel would be calling this a terrorist attack. The West would no doubt be telling them privately and in some quarters rather gleefully to suck it up and take it on the chin.

One can conclude, therefore, that Hamas has become a victim of its own success it allowed its hatred for Israel to cloud its better, more practical and intelligent judgement.

The terrorist attacks achieved more than is politically convenient or expedient. Israel cannot heed the call to stop the war or the civilian deaths because this is how the war was always going to be fought as ordered by Hamas

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