communiqué #21: devil\’s advocate

Many of these conflicts continue unabated largely after generations of unresolved dispute. The names of invading or occupying forces may change, the borders may recede or advance from one outcome to the next. There is only one far from superficial constant: the endless suffering of people deemed expendable by one authority or another.

The situation in Gaza is as ugly as in any conflict, the effects of Israeli offensives on a largely invisible enemy untenable in humanitarian terms. The parallels with the sectarian situation in Northern Ireland as it stood until recent times have been familiar to all of us for years. If pressure is to be brought to bear on Israel to cease its offensive – as it rightly should – then pressure must also be brought to bear on Hamas to negotiate. Hamas is a very different political animal to Fatah, its Palestinian predecessor. Hamas refuses to negotiate. In measurable terms, casualties sustained by Israel are dwarfed by those of its neighbour in this most recent turn of events. That much is inarguable. And as such, as a state it has exposed itself to just accusations of inappropriately brutal force, or as it maintains, counter force.

Certainly, too, Israel must now shoulder the incandescent and impotent fury of thousands of Gazans once resistant – privately at least – to Hamas, without persistently shirking responsibility.

Let your outrage pour forth for those innocent men, women and children maimed and slaughtered on the streets of Gaza. Atrocities continue to occur; not least as the result of substantiated reports of the illegal use of phosphorus, which beggars belief. But do not delude yourself that Hamas is an instrument of freedom; it is undeserving of the moral high ground.

This is the last I intend to engage in discourse on this subject. For the forseeable future, at least. I am not qualified to speculate on these events with any degree of authority beyond mere gut reaction. I have no agenda beyond the simple wish, shared by the many, for an immediate ceasefire. And no reasonable expectation for reconciliation.


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