When we say… why focus only on Israel and ignore Syria, Iraq, North Korea etc… are we sure that this is a justification for not talking about Israel? Or are we trying to change the subject?
When we say… look at the antisemitism displayed by supporters of the Palestinians… are we sure that this is an argument in favour of Israel? Or are we conflating separate things? Do we prefer to talk about Jewish suffering rather than engaging in the more difficult task of facing up to suffering caused by Israeli military action?
When we say… that Israel has no choice but to defend itself… do we really believe that everything Israel is doing is in self defence? Are we sure that the Palestinians are always the aggressor and Israel always the victim?
When we say… that all the civilian deaths in Gaza should be blamed on Hamas… do we really convince ourselves? Didn’t Israel have a choice not to bomb, and thus not to cause the death of hundreds of civilians? Doesn’t at least some of the blame fall on us?
When we say… that Hamas’ motivation is to kill all Jews… don’t we think that they, like us, might have some more normal, rational goals? Is it likely that they are only driven by blind hate while we only want peace? Do we entertain the possibility that Hamas might just possibly mean what they say – that their goal is to end the siege of Gaza, allow normal transit of people and goods and gain the release of the hundreds of Hamas members that Israel arrested in the wake of the West Bank murders.
When we say… that Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas… do we honestly think that justifies killing civilians? And do we ever, even for a moment, put ourselves in their shoes? Do we think about what we might do if we were involved in a guerrilla army fighting to liberate its territory from a siege? Would we put all our weapons in a clearly designated area and wait for the other side to bomb them? Can we think of any guerrilla army in history that behaved like this?
When we say… that Hamas rejected the ceasefire because they don’t want peace… do we really believe that it’s in anyone’s interest to have a ceasefire that doesn’t resolve any of the underlying issues? When Hamas says that Gazans are: ‘being punished with a slow death in the world’s biggest prison’ don’t we privately admit that they have a point?
When we say… that the only way is to defeat Hamas militarily… are we really sure that there is no alternative? Might there not be a political solution? Would not the approach of lifting the siege, allowing Gazans to have a normal life and opening negations with a unified Palestinian government be a possible step forward? Have we ever really tried offering Palestinians a just and generous solution to the conflict?
When we say… that we want Palestinians to support the moderates rather than the terrorists… don’t we know, deep down, that the moderacy of Abbas, Fayad etc hasn’t got the Palestinians very far? More settlements, deeper occupation, no more territory for the Palestinian authority, UN status blocked. Can we be so sure that if we were a Palestinian we would be a moderate? Might we not decide that it’s futile to lay down arms and recognise Israel before an agreement that provides justice for both peoples?
When we say… that Israel wants peace… are we so sure anymore? The Israeli Prime Minister recently said that Israeli security control of the West Bank should be permanent.Do we really believe that is a credible vision for peace?
When we say… that the conflict would end if Hamas stopped firing rockets… do we genuinely believe it? Would Israel really lift the siege, evacuate settlements, grant a Palestinian state on more or less pre 1967 lines? Do we even convince ourselves?
When we say… that this is becoming a clash of civilisations… aren’t, once again, trying to change the subject? Underneath, don’t we acknowledge that this is a local conflict about a people seeking freedom and normality in their land. Do we have the strength to move past our national-historical sense of trauma and grant Palestinians equality? Do we have the courage to at least try?