Monday, July 31, 2006

Judge-Penitents on Parade

The inevitable cascade of condemnations begins.

The British Independent , for example, published an editorial by Robert Fisk under the title: "How can we stand by and allow this to go on?"

"You must have a heart of stone not to feel the outrage that those of us watching this experienced yesterday. This slaughter was an obscenity, an atrocity yes, if the Israeli air force truly bombs with the 'pinpoint accuracy'' it claims, this was also a war crime," Fisk said.

"Israel claimed that missiles had been fired by Hizbullah gunmen from the south Lebanese town of Qana as if that justified this massacre. Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, talked about 'Muslim terror' threatening 'western civilization' as if the Hizbullah had killed all these poor people," he added.

Another British newspaper, the Guardian , also published an editorial titled: "How can 'terrorism' be condemned while war crimes go without rebuke?"

"Washington's partners in this hypocritical war on terror are given free rein to wreak their own brutal, illegal violence. As if we didn't know it already, the conflict in Lebanon shows that truth and war don't mix. All
parties to the tragedy of the Middle East resort to disinformation and historical falsification to bolster their case, but rarely has an attempt to rewrite the past occurred so soon after the fact.

"Israeli ministers and their supporters have justified the bombardment of Lebanon as 'a matter of survival.' Total war has been declared on Israel, so Israel is entitled to use the methods of total war in self-defense. This would be reasonable if it were true, but it isn't. It's completely false.

"The conflict was triggered by a Hizbullah operation in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and three killed. Let's be frank, this wasn't exactly the Tet offensive. It certainly didn't justify Israel's ferocious onslaught against the very fabric of Lebanese society. Yes, the rocket attacks on Haifa are an appalling crime, but they followed rather than preceded Israel's decision to escalate the fighting."

Let us speak of Britain. A country which I admire and to which I am related by blood. A country which once ran the greatest empire in the world. Which invented the term "administrative massacre". Which annihilated villages and killed numerous civilians quelling rebellions from Ireland to Iraq to India. Which gave Ireland the Black and Tans, who responded to IRA terror by massacring civilians in a football stadium. Which has, in other words, acted exactly had Israel has in the past, and worse.

And let us talk of other nations. Of France, for instance, whose actions in the Algerian War make Israeli tactics look like the innocuous play of children. Which responded to the horrendous threat of a Greenpeace protest to its nuclear tests by dispatching its secret service assassins to sink a boat and kill innocent people. Of Germany, we shall not speak. It is not necessary. Perhaps we should mention Russia or China, but that too is unnecessary. Even the history of the United States, lest we forget, has its dark passages.

Or perhaps we should speak of the Arab street, which showed no compunctions about such slaughters as the Munich atrocity, the murder of schoolchildren at Maalot, the hijacking of uncountable airplanes, the suicide bombings of thousands of civilians, a plethora of unprovoked wars whose only cause was genocide.

The outrage of judge-penitents, who condemn the other while exonerating themselves, is an issue beyond sorrow and regret for unnecessary dead. It is an arrestation of truth. The truth that war is random and terrible, and that innocent people die. And that the mere fact of death, and the dealing in death, is not, in and of itself, an indication of absolute moral purity, or corruption. A fact which, in their apologetics for terror and condemnation of Israel's resistance to it, they have themselves silently accepted, and have silently chosen who and what they will exonerate. And who and what they will condemn.