Article from Haaretz by Gideon Levy
More than 1,200 Gazans have been killed, about 80 percent of them civilians. But Israelis’ hands are clean and their consciences are quiet - so quiet you could cry.
It’s so easy to be an Israeli; your tender conscience is pure as the driven snow: Everything is Hamas’ fault. The rockets are the fault of Hamas; that can be taken for granted. Hamas started the war, for no reason; that, too, “goes without saying.” Hamas is a vicious terrorist organization, beasts in human form, born to kill, fundamentalists – and apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Some 400,000 Palestinians have been displaced. More than 1,200 have been killed, about 80 percent of them civilians, half of these women and children. Around 50 families have been obliterated, their homes bombed with them inside. It has reached the dimensions of a real massacre. But Israelis’ hands are clean and their consciences are quiet – so quiet you could cry. It’s Hamas’ fault.
We’ll leave the root causes of this cursed repression and denial to the psychologists. Since the days when Israel accused the Palestinians of killing their own children by means of the Israel Defense Forces, we haven’t seen such denial. After incubating for years, the disease is now a raging epidemic whose carriers are now symptomatic. The national conscience hasn’t moved a muscle in response to this atrocity, and there are forces working to keep it that way.
But even through the malignant cloud of denial, even understanding how easy it is to blame everything on Hamas — Israel has never had such a convenient enemy, which can be framed for all its sins – we must ask whether everything really is the fault of Hamas. Is Israel genuinely completely innocent? In the face of bleeding, ruined Gaza, the work of Israeli hands, such denial is incomprehensible.
Hamas is a vicious terror organization? How has it been more vicious than the IDF in this war? In that it doesn’t “knock on the roof” 80 seconds before bombing a home? That it aims its rockets at civilian populations, just as the IDF does, but less effectively? That it wants to destroy Israel? How many Israelis want to destroy Gaza? Meanwhile, everyone knows who is destroying whom.
Israel’s sanctimoniousness reaches a peak in its concern for Gaza’s residents: Look at how Hamas oppresses them, cry the Israeli democrats, so solicitous of Palestinian rights. Hamas is tyrannical, but its tyranny is nothing compared to that of Israel, which has subjected the Gaza Strip to a seven-year siege and a 47-year occupation.
What has destroyed Gaza’s society and economy is above all the siege, and thanks to those who seek its welfare, who imposed it. Thanks also to those who are worried about its lack of democracy, who are shocked by the corruption, who denounce its leaders for staying in luxury hotels or hiding in bunkers, who are troubled by the enormous sums used for tunnels and rockets instead of playgrounds and after-school activities. Truly, thanks.
What about Israel? Do its leaders live in tents? Aren’t enormous sums spent on superfluous submarines and secret explosives, instead of on health, education and welfare? Hamas is fundamentalist? Israel is on the way. Hamas oppresses women? That’s bad, but Israel has that too, at least in one large community.
Why did Gazans elect Hamas, instead of a moderate leadership? Because the moderates have been trying for years to achieve something, anything, and all they have received is humiliation and Israeli rejectionism. Has Israel given the Palestinians a reason to choose the Palestine Liberation Organization’s route of diplomacy over Hamas’ violent resistance? Has the PLO brought them an inch closer to statehood or freedom?
Hamas at least won the release of 1,000 prisoners and also preserved a measure of self-respect, even at the terrible price that the desperate Gazans are now willing to pay. What has Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas brought his people? Nothing. A photo op with Barack Obama.
I’m no fan of Hamas, quite the contrary. But Israel’s attempt to put all the blame on Hamas is outrageous. The international community will soon judge this war’s atrocities. Hamas may be reprimanded, deservedly, but Israel will be condemned and ostracized far more. And then Israelis will say, ‘It’s Hamas’ fault. And the world will laugh.