Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Boxing Match

 The announcer, bow-tie clad, suited, booted and made up, stands in the middle of the ring, proudly introducing the audience to the two fighters. 

"In the red corner, at 95kg, with 15 wins, no losses and one tie, is Sam "UpAndAt'Em" Smith!"

Half the crowd cheers, half the crowd jeers. 

"And in the blue corner, at 93.5kg, with 21 wins, one loss and no ties, is John "IronFist" Thompson!"

The half of the crowd that cheered now jeers and vice versa. 

"Seconds Out! Round One! Ding Ding!"

The fighters dance a little, skip left and right, posture at each other, head for an embrace laced with rabbit punches. The fight goes on. Round after round, punch after punch, until after twelve rounds, the fight is called a tie. The judges agree that the tally of points, just like the fighters themselves, are evenly matched.

In Israel, the fight is never even. The playing field is notoriously uneven, both in the form of the enemy we face, as well as the international community and media. In a rare statement from William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary holds Hamas responsible for the latest escalation. In almost every previous case, the UK has called on Israel to show the type of restraint that would not be expected of any other country. 

Some one quarter, if not more, of Israeli citizens are currently within range of the rockets coming in from Gaza. I can't see Britain showing restraint if rockets were being fired from Calais and could land anywhere from the south coast of England up to somewhere around Birmingham. I can't see the USA showing restraint if rockets were being fired from the Mexican border up to and including the line of Dallas, Texas. Israel, however, is once again held to a different standard. 

Then, there is this line of "disproportionate response." In a statement issued two days ago, the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, urged Israel to ensure that its response to Hamas terror is "proportionate." I'd love to ask her what she means. It has so many negative connotations. Does she mean that she hopes the numbers of those killed on each side are equal? A sick and frightening thought indeed. Nobody in Israel wants to see innocent deaths, on either side of the border. 

If, on the other hand, she means that we shouldn't use stronger force than Hamas, then we have another serious problem. Hamas and their cohorts are firing indiscriminately into civilian areas, hoping to cause as much death, injury and destruction as possible. On the other hand, Israel is firing with precision at specific terror targets, including rockets launchers, storage sites, specific terrorists themselves and tunnels used to transport the missiles. It is, unfortunately, inevitable that there will be civilian casualties in Gaza, particularly when those civilians are callously used as both human shields and media fodder. If Israel was to line up hundreds of unguided missiles and fire them at random into Gaza, as it would seem that Ms Ashton would be advocating, would that be more in line with her proportionate response requests? 

This is a war. In war, the sides are not matched as in a boxing match. There are no featherweight or heavyweight categories. This is a war that Israel must win. It must be allowed to protect its citizens and ensure that they are not only out of harms way, but that they can also live in the knowledge that the threat no longer exists. If that means using a disproportionate response, then so be it. 

The fact that there have been fewer deaths on the Israeli side of the fence is not because the Hamas missiles are any less deadly. It is because the Israelis value the lives of their citizens more than Hamas value life of any human, Israeli or otherwise. The fact that there have been civilian deaths on the Gazan side of the fence is not because Israel has no regard for the lives there. It is because Hamas put the lives of their civilians directly in the firing line, either by storing their weapons in residential homes, or firing their rockets from areas next to schools, hospitals, or children's play areas. 

I wonder how Ms Ashton would respond to that? Proportionately, of course. 

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