What does Ben Wallace demand of Palestinians?

Yesterday, the Telegraph published an op-ed by Ben Wallace, Conservative MP and former Defence Minister (“Netanyahu’s tactics are weakening Israel”, Dec. 17).

Though Wallace condemns Hamas unequivocally, calls the group out on their antisemitic charter, admits that a ‘ceasefire’ is meaningless as long as the terror group is in power, he also resorts to cliches illustrating his failure to understand the history of the conflict.  For instance, he warns that Israel’s “disproportionate response” will serve as Hamas’s “best recruiting sergeant”, and that the war – which he describes as the IDF’s “crude and indiscriminate method of attack” – will alienate “moderate Palestinians who do want a two-state solution”.

First, as so many commentators have done over the years, Wallace denies Palestinians agency by suggesting that its Israelis, and not Palestinians themselves, who are responsible for shaping Palestinian attitudes towards peace and two states. It also erases the history of the conflict, in which Palestinian terror and extremism often peaked at times when Jerusalem was offering dramatic concessions for peace.

This includes the dramatic increase in terror attacks inside Israel by Hamas and other groups in the 90s amidst the hope fueled by the Olso Accords, as well as the five year terror campaign known as the 2nd Intifada which, lets remember, broke out just as Israeli leaders were offering dramatic concessions that – if not turned down by Yasser Arafat – would have resulted in the creation of a Palestinian state.

The 2nd Intifada example is especially instructive, as those, like Wallace, who moan about Israeli counter-terror actions putatively causing Palestinians to be disenchanted with peace and co-existence never acknowledge the impact of destructive Palestinian decisions on Israeli views.  For instance, the brutal war by Palestinian terror groups on Israeli civilians from 2000-2005 arguably did more to crush the Israeli peace movement than any other event since Oslo.

Similarly, Hamas’s rise to power occurred shortly after Israel’s painful withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, a timeline that wasn’t lost on those on the Israeli left and centre, most of whom assumed that the country’s unilateral disengagement from the territory would result in greater peace.  ‘Moderate Israelis’, to use Wallace’s formulation, were alienated by Palestinian decisions to reward Israeli concessions with more violence.

Wallace’s blind spot and double standards also extend to his failure to empathise with the unimaginable shock and trauma Israelis have experienced as the result to the savage murder, rape, torture and mutilation of Jews on October 7th, the worst antisemitic attack since the Holocaust.

Most of those living in the Gaza envelope communities decimated by Hamas terrorists, lets remember, were on the political left, a good number of whom were engaged in peace projects with Palestinians.

Many residents of those in towns, like Be’eri and Kfar Aza, who weren’t murdered on that horrific day can’t help but reconsider their assumption that most Palestinians long for peace, in light of the atrocity itself, widespread Palestinian support for Hamas’s savagery, and videos showing the rapturous reception in Gaza for terrorists returning from their killing campaign, with their brutalised Jewish victims being presented as trophies.

Indeed, it’s been reported that some Palestinians who worked in the Israeli kibbutzim targeted by Hamas on Oct. 7 took part in the atrocities, while other workers allegedly used their access to those communities to gather intelligence for Hamas, “from the layout of homes to entry codes for the kindergartens”.

As Ilanit Suissa, a survivor of Kibbutz Kfar Aza and (former) self-described peacenik, told the Jewish News, “My heart is not just broken because of the Holocaust that took place here, but also because my whole agenda and ideology has broken down. I don’t know what to believe any more”.

Note that Suissa wasn’t ‘radicalised’ by the Hamas massacre. She merely responded in a healthy way to the cognitive dissonance she experienced as a result of her strongly held beliefs clashing with reality.  Moreover, Israeli society as a whole – despite the immeasurable trauma of Oct. 7 – hasn’t turned to extremism, with polls showing that a centrist coalition would trounce the current right-wing government if elections were held today.

This brings us back to the Palestinians.

What does the MP for Wyre and Preston North demand of them in response to the ISIS-style Hamas massacre of Jews Oct. 7th?  In his Telegraph op-ed, he addresses how they may respond to Israel’s military response to Oct. 7, but ignores the question of their response to the atrocity itself.  It seems that – at least if he agrees that Palestinians should be held to the same moral standard that Israelis are held to – he should expect them to denounce Hamas, the group who speaks in their name, and their supporters, if not apologise to the Israeli victims on behalf of the Palestinian community.

Moreover, as the destruction in Gaza is the direct result of Hamas’s killing rage on Oct. 7, they should rightly hold Hamas directly responsible for the suffering Palestinians in the territory have experienced.

Let’s put it this way: If Israeli society did in fact radicalise as the result of Oct. 7 and voted in large majorities for Itamar Ben-Gvir-style extremism, Israelis themselves would be held responsible by Wallace for their decision to take that destructive political path.  So, why wouldn’t he similarly hold Palestinians – and Palestinians alone – responsible for a collective decision they may make to embrace the antisemitic death cult that wrought horrors upon the region?

We’re not holding our breath, but we’d love to know his response.

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2 Comments

  1. says: Sid

    A lot of UK Conservative MP’s are out of their depth on these issues – many are more concerned for their seats in the next election, particularly in marginal constituencies or those that have a significant Muslim vote and will do their level best to ingratiate themselves rather than look at the ethical/moral aspects of the situation.
    Wallace should ask himself how did Hamas and IJ in Gaza get all these weapons into what was described as a sealed area, who supplied them and who paid for them since it has enabled them to last out till today against the IDF.

  2. says: Neil C

    Ben Wallace has no morals when it comes to anything but especially Israel, sophisticated tunnelling machines just suddenly appeared in Gaza along with rockets drones weapons and ammunition, materialised out of thin air through this imaginary blockade? #defundthebbc

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