The Israel-Palestine conflict is unique among modern wars. No, not because Israel is an unnaturally wicked state, as its many critics across the West, and in the Middle East of course, would have us believe. And not because this conflict has been a long one. Or because it is a sometimes asymmetrical one, pitting a well-armed state against protesters armed with catapults and attitude. Many wars have been long and imbalanced.
No, this war is different because of who shapes it. Who impacts on it. Who contributes to it, usually unwittingly. This war is unique because very often its distant observers, those who watch and comment and hand-wring from afar, play a role in intensifying it and making it bloodier than it already is – without even realising they are doing so.
This should be the central lesson of the terrible events at the Gaza-Israel border last week: that much of what happens in the Israel-Palestine conflict is now largely a performance, a piece of bloody theatre, staged for the benefit of outsiders, especially for myopically anti-Israel Western activists and observers.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Hamas pushes Gaza’s people into harm’s way because it knows their suffering will strike a chord across the West. Because it knows images of their hardship will be shared widely, wept over, and held up as proof of the allegedly uniquely barbarous nature of the Jewish State. Hamas knows there is a hunger among the West’s so-called progressives for evidence of Palestinian pain, and by extension of Israeli evil, and it is more than willing to feed this hunger.
The clashes at the Gaza border, in which more than 60 Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured, cannot be viewed in isolation from Western liberals’ peculiar and disproportionate obsession with Israel. It now seems undeniable that this was no instinctive, grassroots protest, but rather one that was carefully orchestrated by Hamas. As a New York Times reporter described it, after midday prayers clerics and leaders of Hamas ‘urged thousands of worshippers to join the protests’. And Hamas’s urging was littered with false claims. It told people ‘the fence had already been breached’ and Palestinians were ‘flooding into Israel’. This was a lie. A Washington Post reporter details how Hamas’s leaders told people to keep attacking the border fence because ‘Israeli soldiers [are] fleeing their positions’. In truth, as Hamas knew only too well, the IDF was reinforcing its positions.
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