July 09, 2006

Why Do 'Terrorists' Bomb Innocent Civilians In London But 'Militants' Bomb Innocent Civilians In Tel Aviv?

Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Palestinians two weeks ago.

His cousin, Jonathan Shalit (who discoverd singer Charlotte Church), writes to remind us all that those who target Israelis in such ways are not "militants" but terrorists, just like those who committed murder on 9/11 and 7/7.

It is now a fortnight since Palestinian terrorists tunnelled under the Gaza border and crossed into sovereign Israeli territory, bringing fear and bloodshed to an ordinary Sunday tea time.

They killed two soldiers who were guarding an army post and, infamously, kidnapped a 19-year-old boy, Corporal Gilad Shalit.

He has not been seen since.

The only news of him for his grieving parents and an anxious Israeli nation comes in the form of repeated ransom demands from the Hamas terrorists believed to be holding him hostage on the direct orders of their Syrian-based leader, Khaled Meshaal.

I have a personal connection to these terrible events: Cpl Shalit is a relative of mine.

I do not want to claim that Gilad is more than a distant cousin. He is not.

He is less than half my age and, although I am told we have met, I cannot recall it.

But he represents the sort of direct connection to the land of Israel shared by many, if not most, British Jews.

To me, and to them, this abduction is not just another episode in this long-running conflict, happening in a place far away.

This is not just another anonymous Israeli. It is personal.

By way of background, my grandfather Leon Shalit served with distinction in the British Army during the Second World War.

He then moved to Palestine to serve as a lieutenant-colonel in the Israeli Army.

This was in 1947, in preparation for what became the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, when five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded Israel in the hope of wiping out the fledgling country.

Against all odds, 650,000 Jews won - with minimal help from the West - and the state of Israel became a reality.

The country has survived five major wars since then, and that is without even mentioning the on-going conflict with the Palestinians.

Last summer, in an attempt to reach lasting peace, Israel voluntarily withdrew more than 8,500 citizens and its troops from Gaza, turning the area over to the Palestinian Authority.

By doing so, it made painful sacrifices.

Israelis gave up their homes, places of work and worship as well as their schools and farms.

Since then, Palestinian terror groups have used Gaza as a launch pad for countless attacks against Israel, including the raid which led to the kidnap of Gilad Shalit.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority, the government of Gaza and the West Bank, has fallen into the hands of Hamas, a movement which supports and sponsors this terrorism.

Yet coverage by Western TV news - and the BBC is as much to blame as anyone - is consistently distorted.

It took the BBC some days to acknowledge that rocket attacks on Israel was a news story and, rarely, for example, has it been mentioned on TV that Gilad is no more than a teenager.

He is normally referred to as a 'man' or a 'soldier' while the very same bulletins routinely refer to Palestinians as 'youths', even though they are in fact the same age as Gilad.

It has been reported that Hamas wants the release of women prisoners in Israeli jails; yet almost nobody mentions the terrible crimes, including murder, that they have committed.

Until the past few days, you would barely have heard about the daily rocket attacks on Israeli citizens.

More than 1,000 rockets have landed in Israel since the Gaza withdrawal and many Israelis have been killed.

This is a crucial factor behind the widely reported Israeli military build-up.

As we in this country remember the bloodshed of the London bombings one year ago, it is sobering to think that Israel - a country smaller than Wales - suffers this scale of bombing on a weekly basis.

Of course there is suffering on both sides.

There are many innocent Palestinians, including women and children, who have been killed or badly wounded in the continuing violence.

The question I ask myself is whether Israel has reacted with a proportionate response? If anyone had their son or daughter kidnapped, how would they have behaved?

I would argue that Israel in recent months has, in fact, been very restrained in the face of continual provocation.

For me there is a double standard at work.

Why do 'terrorists' bomb innocent civilians in London but 'militants' bomb innocent civilians in Tel Aviv?

In 2003 the Associated Press, one of the most influential news services in the world, published a list of 15 terrorist incidents during a five-year period between August 1998 and August 2003.

In that same time, more than 800 Israelis were murdered in terrorist attacks, but not one of the incidents in Israel made the list. Why?

The double standards even affect the politics of football.

FIFA condemned an Israeli strike on an empty Palestinian football pitch (a pitch that had been used for terror training exercises, by the way).

But it refused to condemn a Palestinian missile attack on an Israeli soccer pitch just moments before the daily training session was set to begin.

Everyone has an opinion of Israel - often ill-informed due to the constant criticism in the British Press.

Of course Israel would prefer a negotiated peace rather than having to prepare for another military action to aid the safe return of one of her soldiers.

But the new Palestinian government refuses even to recognise the right of Israel to exist.

I accept that Hamas has achieved power through democratic elections.

I am also well aware that those directly responsible for these latest, terrible actions are likely to belong to a fringe element of Hamas controlled from Syria, rather than to the Palestinian Authority itself.

But through their unyielding doctrine of violence, Hamas and the authority have condoned the kidnap of Gilad Shalit.

And if the authority wishes to be treated with the full respect normally afforded a sovereign government, it must accept its responsibility not just to condemn the terrorism, but to bring about an immediate halt.

The constant vilification of Israel in the Press is worrying to me.

I try to distinguish between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, but this differentiation is becoming more blurred.

Israel is by no means perfect and I often disagree with its government's policy.

But the double standards and criticism dealt out to Israel is unfair.

My dual hope is for a speedy return of Gilad Shalit to Israel alive and well and for Jewish and Palestinian people to live happily and safely side by side.

Indeed, let me re-echo Jonathan Shalit's most poignant of questions.

Why do 'terrorists' bomb innocent civilians in London (or fly planes into buildings in America) but 'militants' bomb innocent civilians in Tel Aviv?

|| Greg, 01:33 PM || Permalink || Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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Comments on Why Do 'Terrorists' Bomb Innocent Civilians In London But 'Militants' Bomb Innocent Civilians In Tel Aviv?

In the aftermath of the London bombing (itself according to the perpetuators avoidable if Blair had not served as Bush's poodle in Iraq)I believe one innocent was killed in retaliation.One need only to check the stats of innocent Palestinians killed by Israel by way of disportionate retaliation in the past year, to note the different circumstances.The world notes it even if American neocons do not.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, July 10, 2006 01:46 PM ||

No innocent civilians were killed "in retaliation".

There was a shooting of a suspect who turned out not to be a terrorist -- a tragedy, but not "retaliation.

The Palestinians target civilians -- the Israelis target terrorists who hide among a civilian populace in the hopes of escaping their just reward. Unfortunately, that means that there will be collateral damage -- and their blood is on the hands of the terrorists who use them as shields.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, July 10, 2006 06:12 PM ||

Oh, yes, a Brooklyn Ashkenazi/secular Jewish lady
with scant if any biological and no religious claim to the land can move to Palestine and
plop down on land which someone still has a written deed to from the 1940s... and must be regarded as an innocent.

While the Israeli government continues to
implement racial laws not unlike those of antebellum South-without criticism ,as it is a shining "democracy."

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, July 11, 2006 08:23 AM ||
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