Empathising with all sides in a conflict usually is seen as an abhorrence for war. Dismay at the horrific scenes of bloodshed and mayhem. Anger, at the dehumanising used to justify atrocities.
My humanism denounces mentalities that see people as less than human. Both sides in Gaza and Israel have failed on this score. The failure is death and destruction. The murder of kidnapped children rather than bringing communities together, showing solidarity with one another, has led instead to each side bombing one another.
Hamas are evil theological thugs that deny freedom to Palestinians in daily life, let alone any chance for a two state solution. Launching rockets that send Israelis running for cover achieve one thing. The invitation for Israel to respond militarily. Hamas human shields are in place to increase the civilian death toll in an already compact, densely populated area.
Somehow the destruction of disabled centres, and the killing of a Hamas police chief with 17 members of his families included in the attack, are made viable by some. This is what demands for security do. Israel has the right to defend itself from attacks, rather than just rely on the Iron Dome missile defence system. Yet the retaliation goes beyond the concept of legitimate military targets.
Airstrikes oblige Hamas with the pictures that reverberate around the world. The horror is visual. Charred flesh, bloodied infants. The deflection is that Israel should not live in fear and Palestinians must stop Hamas. Or else this will be the response. Get a backbone I am told, and accept collateral damage is inevitable and a price worth paying. Never mind this appears as collective punishment on the innocent. Because it is.
There is an iron dome to criticism of Israel playing into terrorist hands, and the delay of a peaceful solution. A proportionate response is replaced with shock and awe. So forget the illegal settlements, because people in Tel Aviv are running for their lives as sirens ring out. Netanyahu will get a poll bounce as a hawk defending the State of Israel, against backdrop of countries that wish to annihilate it. If they could.
The dove of peace is cowed once again. The peacemakers are in hiding as people run for cover. Those cheering on the bombardment from either side will denounce this piece as naive and giving succour to one side.
Those kidnapped murdered children have been failed twice, once in life and now in death. The world watches. But we should not be silent. A ceasefire must be called by all sides, a way to peace must be found. That gives dignity to Palestinians and security to Israel.
How to achieve? Only by goodwill and abhorrence of violence on all sides talking to each other. At present that is a pipe dream buried under the smouldering rubble in Gaza.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog