So What Have The
Palestinians Got To Complain About?
To portray this as a conflict
between equals requires some imagination
By Mark Steel:
January 01, 2009 "The
Independent" --- When
you read the statements from Israeli and US politicians, and try to match them
with the pictures of devastation, there seems to be only one explanation. They
must have one of those conditions, called something like "Visual Carnage
Responsibility Back To Front Upside Down Massacre Disorder".
For example, Condoleezza Rice,
having observed that more than 300 Gazans were dead, said: "We are deeply
concerned about the escalating violence. We strongly condemn the attacks on
Israel and hold Hamas responsible."
Someone should ask her to
comment on teenage knife-crime, to see if she'd say: "I strongly condemn the
people who've been stabbed, and until they abandon their practice of wandering
around clutching their sides and bleeding, there is no hope for peace."
The Israeli government suffers
terribly from this confusion. They probably have adverts on Israeli television
in which a man falls off a ladder and screams, "Eeeeugh", then a voice says,
"Have you caused an accident at work in the last 12 months?" and the bloke who
pushed him gets £3,000.
The gap between the might of
Israel's F-16 bombers and Apache helicopters, and the Palestinians' catapulty
thing is so ridiculous that to try and portray the situation as between two
equal sides requires the imagination of a children's story writer.
The reporter on News at Ten
said the rockets "may be ineffective, but they ARE symbolic." So they might not
have weapons but they have got symbolism, the canny brutes.
It's no wonder the Israeli Air
Force had to demolish a few housing estates, otherwise Hamas might have tried to
mock Israel through a performance of expressive dance.
The rockets may be unable to
to kill on the scale of the Israeli Air Force, said one spokesman, but they are
"intended to kill".
Maybe he went on: "And we have
evidence that Hamas supporters have dreams, and that in these dreams bad things
happen to Israeli citizens, they burst, or turn into cactus, or run through
Woolworths naked, so it's not important whether it can happen, what matters is
that they WANT it to happen, so we blew up their university."
Or there's the outrage that
Hamas has been supported by Iran. Well that's just breaking the rules. Because
say what you will about the Israelis, they get no arms supplies or funding or
political support from a country that's more powerful than them, they just go
their own way and make all their weapons in an arts and crafts workshop in
But mostly the Israelis
justify themselves with a disappointing lack of imagination, such as the line
that they had to destroy an ambulance because Hamas cynically put their weapons
They should be more creative,
and say Hamas were planning to aim the flashing blue light at Israeli epileptics
in an attempt to make them go into a fit, get dizzy and wander off into Syria
where they would be captured.
But they prefer a direct
approach, such as the statement from Ofer Schmerling, an Israeli Civil Defence
official who said on al-Jazeera, "I shall play music and celebrate what the
Israeli Air Force is doing."
Maybe they could turn it into
a huge nationalfestival, with decorations and mince pies and shops playing "I
Wish We Could Bomb Gaza Every Day".
In a similar tone Dov Weisglas,
Ariel Sharon's chief of staff, referred to the siege of Gaza that preceded this
bombing, a siege in which the Israelis prevented the population from receiving
essential supplies of food, medicine, electricity and water, by saying, "We put
them on a diet."
It's the arrogance of the East
End gangster, so it wouldn't be out of character if the Israeli Prime Minister's
press conference began: "Oh dear or dear. It looks like those Palestinians have
had a little, er, accident. All their buildings have been knocked down – they
want to be more careful, hee hee."
And almost certainly one of
the reasons this is happening now is because the government wants to appear hard
as it wants to win an election. Maybe with typical Israeli frankness they'll
show a party political broadcast in which Ehud Olmert says, "This is why I think
you should vote for me", then shows film of Gaza and yells: "Wa-hey, that bloke
in the corner is on FIRE."
And Condoleezza Rice and her
colleagues, and the specially appointed Middle East Peace Envoy, could then all
shake their heads and say: "Disgraceful. The way he's flapping around like that
could cause someone to have a nasty accident."