Friday, January 09, 2009

An extremist minority who should be ostracised.

Here's something to chew over. If you have participated in a public demonstration supporting Israel's operation in Gaza (such as this one or this one), you are a moral idiot. You don't get to tell anyone about 'terrorism', or 'war crimes', or 'humanitarianism' ever again, because you have flunked it at the first test, proving that your passionately avowed norms do not apply universally as far as you are concerned. The next time there is a Beslan or some similar atrocity, you will have to live with the fact that you have chosen to exist at roughly the same moral level as the perpetrators. In the interests of avoiding hypocrisy, in fact, you should be out on the streets cheerleading the massacre. The fact that you are unlikely to understand this only means that you are not just a moral idiot.

Let's bring ourselves up to date. The death toll as of yesterday - certainly a sizeable underestimate, given that there is only a rare interval in which to recover bodies crushed under the flaming rubble - is 758, 42% of which the UN estimates are women and children. Last night the UN Security Council produced a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, unimpeded access for humanitarian and relief workers, and the opening of border crossings. From an 'international community' that has hitherto backed Israel's blockade and regular offensives, this is jaw-dropping. This only happened because the US surprisingly refused to use its veto power, and even stressed that it "fully supports" the resolution in principle - a signal to Israel that its paymasters are not completely happy with how this is going. With that resolution passed, Israeli forces proceeded to pound Gaza into the night, and in the process attacked yet another apartment building, killing seven civilian inhabitants. Israel is consciously and deliberately violating almost every possible human norm in the conduct of its war. Whether it is rounding up families and shelling them to death, attacking schools, shooting up medics, killing aid workers, or bombing hospitals, it is increasingly the case that Israel is struggling to outdo itself.

Arguably, yesterday's news that Israeli forces had been deliberately starving children to death trumps everything else to date. I mean, sealing off a neighbourhood, bombing and shelling it, blocking medical and humanitarian entry, and knowingly leaving children to slowly die next to their already deceased relatives is sick. Forcing wounded adults to lie around dying on blood-soaked mattresses is also sick. And when the Red Cross finally gets in there and discovers some of the dead, to then attempt to expel them and prevent them from doing any more work is, well, sick. And I don't like saying this, but that level of calculated predation and sadism positively invites Nazi comparisons. What does that make the supporters of Israel's war at this moment?

One unexpected result of the travesty is that even some of Israel's more aggressive boosters, such as Roger Cohen in the New York Times, are expressing disgust and shame. Some of those who backed Israel's war in Lebanon are admitting, sometimes with heavy qualification and great reluctance and much ponderous nonsense about how treacherous the pro-Palestinian Left nevertheless is, to similar feelings. But the livid, lunatic fringe of Israel supporters not only have an inexhaustible capacity for sanctimony and hypocrisy, they lack any sense of shame. They are truly at their worst hour, the vilest they have ever been. No excuse can or should be made for such people: they ought to be shunned, and treated as the moral and political degenerates that they are.