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  • Writer's pictureSteve Crowther

7 October 2023: Which side are you on?

'When I heard that Hamas decided to go in and say to the Israelis, “Here we are, get out of our territory, lift the siege”, I was actually very happy. Obviously, I was not happy by the death of civilians anywhere’. Tariq Ali

The despicable reality of ‘Here we are…' was that ‘Hamas murdered 1,400 people (on 7 October)... taking 220 hostages – among them children, the elderly, and dual and foreign nationals.’ BBC

Ali’s emotional qualifier (highlighted in italics) is for me, devoid of context, sincerity or any human empathy. But why?

In a typically illuminating article in The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland uses the analogy of football tribalism to (part) explain, not excuse, opposing views in this violent, vile conflict playing out in Gaza as we speak:

You see it in those who tear down posters on London bus shelters depicting the faces of the more than 200 Israelis currently held hostage by Hamas in Gaza – including toddlers and babies. You see it too in those who close their eyes to the consequences of Israel’s siege of Gaza, to the impact of denied or restricted supplies of water, food, medicine and fuel on ordinary Gazans – including toddlers and babies. For these hardcore supporters of each side, to allow even a twinge of human sympathy for the other is to let the team down.

It would be comforting to shrug off this binary thinking as nothing more than the moral failing of the distant spectator – but it’s having a concrete effect, on the conflict itself and on those hurt by it.

For this tendency, this need, to see one side as all good and the other as all evil is hardly confined to the football terraces and the streets…’ Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian (28th October 2023)

Tariq Ali, preaching to the twisted, said that he didn't agree with Hamas' ‘tactics’. IDF show off the tunnel at the Alshifa Hospital. And that justifies, verifies their barbaric actions. This is madness.

The only common denominator is that the civilians die, get maimed, lose their families, legs, eyes. It is shocking. But here's the rub. This particular upsurge in raw violence we are watching on TV, does have a beginning.

On a lovely day there is a music festival. Young women and blokes dancing to the beat. Not a care in the world. On a lovely day there are ordinary civilians going about their daily lives in some kibbutz - a collective agricultural settlement in modern Israel, owned and administered communally by its members and on which children are reared, in southern Israel. And then the Devil drops in. He gatecrashes the party, slaughters these civilians and partygoers. And what does my team, team Palestine (got the badge) say? ‘But’.

Yes, ‘but’... ‘But’ look at the numbers, ‘But’ you have to see it in context…But you don’t have to. You can choose to see it as the act of evil that it clearly is.

Sharone Lifschitz’s parents were two of the 242 people who were taken hostage in October by Hamas. Her 85-year-old mother, Yocheved, was released 17 days later. Her 83-year-old father, Oded, is still being held hostage.

In a Newsnight interview, Sharone insisted that you have to see the slaughter, that premeditated slaughter for what it is; there are no ‘but's’. She is still calling for the slaughter of Palestinians to stop. For this hatred to end. She still embraces peace and reconciliation.

Here is this remarkable interview with the excellent Victoria Derbyshire. In it we see the film of her mother ‘embracing’ – for want of a better word, one of her captors. She says ‘shalom’, a term used as a salutation by Jewish people when meeting or parting, meaning ‘peace’.

Steve Crowther

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2 komentáře

10. 12. 2023

Such a challenging, complex and emotional conflict to write about and I admire your commitment to make a considered article about it Steve, especially giving some focus to an Israeli perspective after the 8th October atrocity. I know you ‘wear the badge’. There’s so much I think and feel on the subject, some referencing history, but so far I’ve not commented on any platform. But as a non-Israeli and non -Palestinian , any comments I make personally are irrelevant is my guiding viewpoint at present, and would do nothing to move the crisis towards a humane solution in Israel or Gaza, or other areas involved. It’s also why, for example, I haven’t attended any marches. However, as a British …

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13. 12. 2023
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Thanks Paul. When Corbyn, who I (used to) respect, refused to call out that barbaric, vile torture and massacre on 7 October I lost all respect for him. I have been a member of the LP for over 40 yrs. and I have never heard any antisemitism. I have heard a great deal about the illegal occupation of Gazza and assumed the edges must have blurred. I was wrong. Starmer has addressed this. One real indicator of how this has changed is that the impressive Jewish (then) Labour MP Luciana Berger, who felt the full vitriol of these racist twats, resigned and left, has rejoined the Party. This needs to be continually monitored. And now we have the mass slaughter…

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