The Human Shield mantra about Gaza
If you look at my posts tagged Israel, you’ll notice how my stance has gradually changed in these 6 weeks of war in Gaza. To explain it, I’ll quote a story about Gandhi (personality which I generally dislike, as he was a hypocrite, but if that guy ever said something meaningful, this was it):
Mahatma Gandhi often changed his mind publicly. An aide once asked him how he could so freely contradict this week what he had said just last week. He replied that it was because this week he knew better.
Truth be told, I understand that the primary concern of most governments here in Europe is the sharp increase of the antisemitism, and I sympathize with the Jewish communities around the globe if they’re persecuted and hated for the actions of the state of Israel. Any form of collective punishment is disgraceful. At the same time, and precisely for the reason expressed in the previous sentence, I’m afraid I’m not totally against everything that Israel is doing in the historic region of Palestine, specifically in Gaza and the (occupied) West Bank.
Maybe the Hamas government of Gaza isn’t to be trusted to give honest counts of victims. But “BBC Verify” has investigated about How the dead are counted in Gaza, and the surprising conclusion is that, with the notable exception of the death toll after a blast at al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City on October 17, the count is pretty much correct, with the error marge normally to be expected in such situations. By the way, Israel itself had to revise its own death figures down from 1,400 to about 1,200.
11,000 deaths or not, does it make and difference if they’re only 8,000? Of which, let’s say that women and children were only 5,000. Is that “acceptable collateral damage”?
How about the over 200 killed and over 2,600 arrested in the occupied West Bank? Israel continues his policy of apartheid, as if its goal would be to never achieve any kind of peace and to sabotage any peaceful cohabitation with the Palestinians. Most likely, this has been the policy of most, if not all governments of Israel since forever.
I watched See what CNN reporter saw inside hospital basement in Gaza, and I wasn’t impressed (here’s the associated article). “A battle with Hamas.” Heck, Hamas is (or was) the governing force in Gaza. The administration is Hamas. The police is Hamas. The army is Hamas. The terrorists are Hamas. Everything is Hamas. Even in the context of the October 7 raid in Israel, Gaza is now an attacked pseudo-sovereign territory. Even those who aren’t terrorists might feel the legitimate urge to fight the IDF.
Daniel Hagary, IDF’s spokesman, didn’t inspire me any trust, as in never. The hospital in question is the Al-Rantissi Paediatric Hospital. We’re shown a tunnel entrance, which however wasn’t explored and doesn’t prove much, then a basement with a motorcycle with a bullet hole, ropes and other items suggesting that a hostage had been tied to a chair, baby bottles and materials. As I said, Gaza being the Home for Hamas, why wouldn’t some of them being there? They or the Islamic Jihad.
More recently, BBC went inside the Al-Shifa hospital with the Israeli army, which wasn’t an impressing reporting either. IDF say they recovered the body of one of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas terrorists on October 7th. The body is said to have been found in a building near the hospital. They also have uncovered a tunnel shaft and a car filled with weapons. Given the size of the Al-Shifa hospital, the extent of what they revealed is pathetic.
So far, tunnels or not, I don’t see any compelling evidence that the Al-Shifa hospital has been used as a HQ for Hamas, as Israel and the US claim. Oh, and let’s not forget the infamous ambassador of Israel in the UK, Tzipi Hotovely. Every single time she shows up on Sky News, I’m pretty sure a lot of people are getting nauseous.
Here’s a recent example. She claims that Israel has offered its full support to evacuating the children from the hospital. As if evacuating such a large hospital would be a piece of cake. A similar displacement of population and evacuation of hospitals would create a catastrophic situation anywhere in the world, even in New York City, London, Paris, or Berlin. But Tzipi acts as if the IDF already had dozens and dozens of ambulances equipped with incubators, waiting to take over the patients. This is utterly ridiculous: the so-called offer from the IDF was a symbolic, propagandistic one, and I never saw any images proving the contrary.
As always, Tzipi insist that, if terrorists are under the hospital or in the hospitals, the hospital is a legitimate target. Let’s ignore what the international law says, i.e. that targeting any hospital is a war crime, plain and simple, and let’s focus on the human shield theory used by Israel.
The question whether Hamas is using people in Gaza as human shields is irrelevant. (Yes, they probably do that.) Also, whether those tunnels are used or not for military purposes, is of secondary importance. The real question is:
What do you do with a human shield? Just kill them?
Consider the following scenario, so common in the movies of the 60s, 70s and 80s:
Bank robbers or terrorists take hostages. The police, the SWAT, the FBI are surrounding the building. Either when the criminals get out holding the hostages as human shields, or when the law enforcement considers storming the building, what do they do? If they shoot to kill the criminals, they’d kill the hostages too. Sometimes, it’s possible to kill such a criminal without killing the human shield, if you’re shooting right, if the criminal doesn’t kill the victim as a last reflex, and if you’re SFPD Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan, portrayed by Clint Eastwood. In real life, the law enforcement tries to negotiate, to lure the criminals, to avoid hurting the human shield. Shooting to indiscriminately kill everyone, criminals and their human shields altogether, is not an option.
Unless you’re Israel, that is. To them, everything is justified. They are no better than Hamas. Or than Hitler, Stalin, Mao.
The IDF pretends they tried very hard to avoid any civilian casualties. This holds as much water as Putin’s claims that the Russian troops in Ukraine have used “surgical precision” as not to kill innocent civilians. Yeah, sure.
The only way to avoid those killings were a ceasefire. The UN Secretary General asked for it. The WHO asked for it. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) asked for it. Biden and Blinken asked for it. Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen asked for it. Are they all bloody Muslims to be ignored to such an extent by Israel?
There is a shift in the public opinion in Europe, but not so much in the United States. The 74th Annual National Book Awards had this issue on November 15:
As the cultural fallout from the war in the Middle East continues, several finalists for the National Book Award plan to call for a cease-fire in Gaza during the ceremony on Wednesday. Two sponsors have decided not to attend the ceremony after learning authors were planning a political statement.
Rumors that authors would take a stand regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict during the ceremony were flying in the days leading up to the event, but it was unclear what the statement would include, leaving several sponsors concerned.
One of the sponsors that withdrew after learning that some authors were planning a political statement was Zibby Media. Zibby Owens, the company’s founder, wrote in an essay published on Substack that her company had withdrawn because she was afraid the remarks at the ceremony would take a stance against Israel, noting that “we simply can’t be a part of anything that promotes discrimination, in this case of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Another sponsor, Book of the Month, has also decided not to attend.
This is Kafkaesque, ubuesque, grotesquely absurd. Has everyone got mentally retarded all of a sudden? If Biden and Blinken ask for a ceasefire, they’re not canceled, but when a couple of writers wish to do the same, sponsors are withdrawing from the event?
In a statement, the National Book Foundation declared:
Political statements, if made, are by no means unprecedented in the history of the National Book Awards, or indeed any awards ceremony. We are working with the venue to ensure a safe environment for all our guests. We of course hope that everyone attending the National Book Awards, in person or tuning in online, comes in a spirit of understanding, compassion, and humanity—the very things that the books we love inspire.
“Safe environment.” That’s snowflake, wokist language. Were it “unsafe” for Zibby Owens, an American Jew, to merely listen to a couple of statements? This world is fucking mental.
A couple of days ago, Yanis Varoufakis had an interview with Al Jazeera: “We Europeans have created this.”
In brief, his stance is that Europe is responsible, historically, for the mess in Israel, in these major steps:
- Europe has invented the antisemitism, and has experienced pogroms against the Jews, long before the Holocaust.
- Europe has promised a new land to the Jews, even before the Holocaust, but after the World War II this promise looked even more legitimate. In doing so, everyone acted as if Palestine were an empty, unpopulated land.
- Europe, alongside the United States, supported the creation of the state of Israel. Once again, who cares about the Arabs? The Jews needed a land, now they’ll have it.
Varoufakis is much more political in his analysis, and it attacks Ursula von der Leyen, it then attacks the European “far-right” which is now supporting Israel out of “Islamophobia” and hatred against the “islamo-gauchisme” attributed to the far-left. I find his views partially unreasonable, but he’s far-left himself.
Either way, I previously mentioned the French former Prime-Minister and former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin’s diatribe against Israel. I don’t see how could anyone still give carte blanche to Israel, when even before this war, things were anything but kosher in Gaza and in the West Bank.
It’s difficult for most Europeans to become pro-Palestinian. We have here the memory of decades of Islamist acts of terror. We also have a phenomenon called by some “invasion” if not even “The Great Replacement”; also, the unsafe neighborhoods, typically suburbs (banlieues) are usually of Islamic (as in Muslim, not as in Islamist) extraction. Then, of course, there are bad guys in the Middle-East, from Hamas and Hezbollah to the Islamic regime in Iran.
But two wrongs don’t make a right. And Israel is making a terrible mistake, if war crimes can be called a mistake.
People in Gaza don’t even have clean water anymore. They surely deserve it.