Preached to Death

To paraphrase Sydney Smith, Israel is being ‘preached to death by wild curates’ from the Guardian’s stable of writers and editors. The editorial of June 1st with its serial inaccuracies and downright lies together with lashings of puerile analysis and ill-informed assessment not only constitutes yet another onslaught in a barrage of one sided propaganda, but between its lines lies a non too well veiled call for actions which would endanger Israeli lives and the security of the state itself.

Already in the first paragraph the anonymous writer of this editorial suggests that NATO warships be employed against Israel – an ally of many of the NATO nations. Whilst pondering this bizarre scenario, one cannot but help think also of the many civilians killed unintentionally by NATO forces in Afghanistan, most of whom were not wielding iron bars, axes or guns at the time, and marvel at the cognitive dissonance required by this Guardian editor in order to be capable of writing such words.

Then we have a whole series of Pravda-style distortions of the Middle East situation in general and the specific incident aboard the Mavi Marmara. Whoever this writer is, he or she is certainly neither a military analyst nor a Middle East expert.

“Nothing has done more to establish Israel’s status as a pariah state among its neighbours than the actions of its armed forces”

Israel’s neighbours would regard it as a ‘pariah’ state even if its armed forces sat around making macramé plant pot hangers all day. It is not what we do which upsets them; it is who and what we are. That is called racism in decent societies, and is precisely the kind of mentality which the Guardian, with its claims to be a liberal newspaper, should be attacking instead of defending.

“Israel’s navy said it met with “pre-planned violence” when it boarded the ships and opened fire in the middle of the night. Their intention was to conduct a mass arrest, but the responsibility for the bloodshed was entirely theirs. Having placed themselves in a situation where they lost control and provoked a riot, the Israeli navy said they were forced to open fire to avoid being lynched.”

The use of the word ‘said’ when applied to Israeli versions of events and the parenthesis around certain words relating to the actions of the so-called peace activists are clearly designed to cast doubts upon the sequence of events which took place aboard the ship: events which the world has now seen with its own eyes thanks to the shocking film clips available for public viewing. These clips and the testimonies of the soldiers clearly indicate what happened and yet, in the finest Stalinist tradition, the Guardian is still making itself look ridiculous by claiming that Israeli soldiers ‘provoked a riot’. As evidence begins to emerge suggesting that not an insignificant number of those aboard the ship were in fact paid mercenaries, this story is rapidly becoming the Guardian’s ‘Jenin 2’, but no doubt yet again the apology will come too late and be in print so small that it will not have any effect as far as repairing some of the damage the Guardian will have done by then is concerned.

“There was nothing on board those ships that constituted a threat to Israel’s security, so Binyamin Netanyahu’s argument that his troops were acting in self-defence has no validity.”

The confidence with which this statement is written is interesting. Has the Guardian been privy to the ship’s manifest? Was there indeed a manifest at all and if so, why was it not handed over to the Israeli authorities in advance? What is certain is that any manifest would clearly not declare the weapons found on board that ship or the fact that many of its passengers have links to terrorist organisations or groups such as the ISM which clearly do constitute a clear threat to Israel’s security. The human cargo of the Mavi Marmara was just as much an unknown quantity as its goods cargo and as events later proved Israel had every reason to be suspicious of both. This editor obviously has comprehension difficulties regarding the term ‘self-defence’: the Israeli soldiers were, after at least 30 minutes of being brutally attacked, forced to open fire in order to defend their own lives and to that PM Netanyahu was referring.

The rest of this editorial reads, to be frank, like an ISM press release. The use of such phrases as “a boot which it applied to the Palestinian throat” are indicative of the fact that the writer is not capable of assessing and analysing the situation objectively or dispassionately, but writes from a standpoint of emotional involvement unfitting for an editor of a parish magazine, let alone a national newspaper. The closing calls to recognise the proscribed terror organisation Hamas and apply international pressure to force Israel to end the partial embargo on the Gaza Strip are evidence of a complete lack of understanding not only of the Middle East, but of global politics in general.

The oft-repeated mantra that the Palestinians in Gaza are suffering collective punishment at Israel’s hand may make for fashionable chit chat over the Chardonnay in Islington, but does not stand up to scrutiny in the real world. The Palestinians in Gaza are suffering because they are ruled by a violent, theocratic, fascist regime cut from precisely the same cloth as those which the UK and the US understood nine years ago must be challenged and fought. Whilst Britain has the luxury of its civilians being thousands of miles away from its theatre of war, Israel does not.

This editorial’s suggestion to end the blockade would immediately result in the transportation of vast quantities of arms into the region from Hamas’ Iranian sponsors. The international community has severely neglected its responsibilities in Lebanon by allowing Hizbollah to re-arm under the noses of UN forces there and in defiance of UN resolution 1701: Israeli citizens will die because of UN snoozing on the job. Israel has no reason whatsoever to believe that should it lift the naval blockade on Gaza the situation on its southern borders would be any better than on its northern one. The responsibility of any sovereign state to both defend its citizens and avoid putting them in harm’s way is a primary one. Were Israel were to lift the blockade now, it would be seriously neglecting that responsibility.

The call for recognition of a proscribed terrorist organisation and its embrace into the international community is perverse and misguided. Such actions would send the immediate message to terrorists of all kinds throughout the world that they only have to hold out long enough and kill enough civilians and in the end the world will permit them to achieve their nihilistic aims. The repercussions of that would possibly be felt first in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but it would only be a matter of time before they reached London, Paris and New York.

Is that really what the Guardian’s editors aim to achieve with these irresponsible words? If so, they really are preaching us to death, and not just the Israelis among us.

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