Friday, 10 September 2010

Israel, Palestinians and Terrorism

Some time ago I attended a lecture by a spokesman for the Israeli government. He talked about Israeli claims to Palestine and responses to Palestinian extremism, but I doubt if he won over a single person present (he began by referring to Abraham, which is hardly the best way to approach an academic audience). The questions afterwards were not much better, consisting largely of monologues intended to show the speakers' pro-Palestinian views. So it was all a disappointing and depressing experience. I was unable to ask a question expressing my ideas on the subject, which would be as follows:-

We in Britain were for many years well accustomed to dealing with terrorist attacks from the IRA, in which both civilians and police were killed, and which in one case came within an ace of assassinating the entire cabinet at Brighton. But as far as I know we did not respond by ordering the killing of Gerry Adams and his friends, by shelling the Bogside, or by sending the RAF to bomb IRA bases in the Irish Republic. When I ask myself "Why not?" I can think of four possible reasons:
1. Such actions would be immoral
2. They would be strategially counterproductive
3. The Americans wouldn't have let us
and 4. When all is said and done, the Irish are, after all, white men

I do not know which of these considerations dictated British policy towards the IRA, though one would hope it is the first rather than the last. Israel, by comparison, does not acknowledge such restrictions when dealing with the Palestinians: they regard assassination, shelling and bombing as a justifiable and useful response, the Americans encourage them (at least tactitly) in such actions, and the Palestinians are not white men: they are comparable to the Caananites, Amalekites and other indigenous inhabitants of the region whom, according to my Bible, the Israelites slaughtered in order to gain their Promised Land in the first place.

The old cliche goes thus: a freedom fighter is a terrorist who's on my side; a terrorist is a freedom fighter who's on your side.

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