And the madness begins: Israel's detractors out in force

In the next few days, Israel will be forced to fight two wars, one against Hamas and one against this ugly torrent of media bile

The damage caused by Hamas's rockets is seldom discussed
Jeremy Havardi
On 15 November 2012 11:16

So already the madness has started. No, not Israel's self defence operation against the terrorism from Gaza but the onslaught from Israel's detractors. Already the Israeli action is being presented as a reckless 'escalation' of hostilities, a means of sparking a regional conflagration that will drag in other countries.

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen suggested yesterday that the Israeli operations were part of a ploy by Benjamin Netanyahu to get re- elected. "In the past", he declared "military strikes have been used to send messages about the toughness of Israeli leaders.” In other words, Netanyahu's action was designed to feed the Israeli public's insatiable appetite for conflict.

As we know, what the BBC says really matters because it remains the most influential shaper of public opinion in the UK. Much of the public will swallow the BBC's line, not because they are automatically pro-Palestinian or bigoted, but simply because the real context for Israeli actions has been vastly underreported.

In the few days before Israel targeted Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of Hamas' military wing, there had been an unprovoked attack on an Israeli jeep that injured four soldiers, one seriously. What followed was a sustained barrage of rocket attacks (well over 100) across the south of Israel, with some 120 rockets fired since Jabari was killed. Three Israeli civilians have now been killed by a direct hit. Hamas has also been busy importing scores of Fajr missiles from Iran with a range of up to 75 kilometres, making them capable of reaching Tel Aviv.

Yet these latest outrageous attacks are but the tip of the iceberg. Since the start of 2012, 797 rockets have been fired from Gaza, forcing approximately one million Israelis in towns across the south to flee to their nearest bomb shelter, with as little as 15 seconds to react. The number of rockets fired increases to over 5,000 since 2006.

Yet apparently, the low number of casualties (thanks to Israel's advanced technology and interception systems) is a total non-story. It is only when Israel ends its restraint and finally takes decisive action that suddenly the BBC screams of a dangerous escalation. They then have the temerity to suggest that the real reason for the Gaza operation lies hidden beneath a clever Israeli smokescreen. Rockets? What rockets?

As if to restate the obvious, no western government would tolerate even a fraction of the rocket attacks suffered by Israel. Imagine that the citizens of London, Manchester or Birmingham came under fire from missiles fired by terrorists. If they were forced to dive into bomb shelters on a daily basis, if schools in those cities were closed, and if life ground to a halt under a relentless terrorist barrage, our own government would not hesitate to act. And rightly so. Even one missile or rocket would be an intolerable invasion of our sovereignty requiring the most robust response.

The government would have a duty to protect its citizens and would take no lectures from anyone about doing so. It would dismiss calls for restraint or demands to accept a ceasefire until the terrorist threat had been lifted.

And if someone suggested to David Cameron that his response was purely designed to ensure his re-election in 2015, that this was a distraction from his domestic difficulties, we all know what his answer would be. Such a grotesque slur would be dismissed with the contempt it deserved.

Yet these points don't apply to Israel apparently. The Jewish state is not allowed to defend itself against Islamist terrorists because to do so would create tension and inflame the region. Israel's self-defence, rather than the terrorism directed against her, is automatically destabilising to the region.

No, what both Israel and Hamas must do is show 'restraint' in this situation and avoid, as William Hague put it, the “violence in Gaza and southern Israel” leading to a “dangerous escalation”.

But what this suggests is that there is some automatic moral equivalence between the Iranian-backed terrorists and the sovereign state of Israel. Never mind that one is an internationally proscribed terrorist entity firing indiscriminately at Israeli civilians while the other is a member of the community of nations, a sovereign state defending itself under article 51 of the UN Charter. The two are lumped together as if they were bullies in the playground that need to be separated before their fight gets out of control. It is a quite sickening way to characterise the situation, devoid of any fairness, accuracy or morality. Yet it passes for progressive thinking.

So in the next few days, Israel will be forced to fight two wars, one against Hamas and one against this ugly torrent of media bile. The madness looks set to continue.

Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton

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