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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Israel Discovers Compassion: We Are No Longer Indifferent To Gaza Suffering, As Long As It's Hamas-Made

The following op-ed appeared in Ynet today

Israel discovers compassion
We are no longer indifferent to Gaza suffering, as long as it's Hamas-made

B. Michael
06.23.07, 12:48 / Israel Opinion

Who would have believed it: suddenly it turns out that behind the media's blind eyes, behind the Israeli population's indifferent facade, and behind the apathetic facade of Israeli politics, there hides a merciful and sympathetic heart, an emphatic soul, and a stomach filled with gentle compassion.

Suddenly, everyone discovered Palestinian suffering. Everyone is so photogenically shocked in the face of the tribulations suffered by the occupied Gaza population, which is groaning under the boot of the Hamas occupier. Everyone is enraged and overcome with fury, frustration, and terror in the face of the difficult images. And, actually, there is no wonder. Who can sympathize better than us Jews with people being persecuted by violent thugs?

And suddenly the wounded have names, and those killed have an age, and the sufferers have a face. I heard with my own stunned ears serious-looking news anchors talking about "war crimes" in Gaza. "War crimes" they said, explicitly. They were talking about people executed by knife and others shot to death in their underwear.

Indeed, war crimes. Indeed, terrible deeds. Had Hamas members been civilized, they would have forsaken butchery by knife, which gets the carpet dirty, and used a pilotless drone. Or a shiny fighter jet. Or sophisticated telescopic sights. That way they would have spared themselves the nickname "criminals" and would have spared the enraged news anchors much pain and shock.

Another channel reported, in a shocked tone, that Hamas villains who were looking for a "wanted" Fatah man (this is exactly what they said - "wanted") torched the house he was hiding in. What cruelty. Had Hamas owned a friendly bulldozer, a likeable D-9, which would compassionately make the walls collapse on the wanted man who hides there, the entire picture would have looked different.

Olmert's sweeping enthusiasm
Yet it appears that Prime Minister Olmert was the one who reached the peak of neo-humanity and compassion. From faraway Washington, and speaking to the entire world, he described Hamas abominations with such sweeping enthusiasm and with a series of such impressive synonyms that it became clear he swallowed a thesaurus ahead of the occasion. Yet then he outdid himself and declared, with genuine excitement, that we won't remain indifferent to human suffering in Gaza.

It was as if we were dreaming. The prime minister of Israel discovered Gaza residents' human suffering. The death, the destruction, and the distress. Who knows, maybe he will even end up hearing about the humiliation, despair, and poverty. And the moment he discovered all that, he could not remain indifferent.

The problem is that 20 seconds later we woke up from the dream. The prime minister made clear what human suffering he was referring to: The suffering which the Palestinians brought upon themselves, which shows us that only this kind of suffering - fresh Palestinian-made suffering - will not be met with indifference.

When it comes to the good old suffering Israel has been bringing to Gaza residents for dozens of years now, we can continue remaining indifferent as we have done for many years.

We can guess, therefore, that once the killing, destruction, imprisonment, humiliation, and persecution of "wanted" Palestinians will be back in our trusted hands, the enraged media, furious politicians, and shocked audience at home will also calm down again. The wounded will again lose their faces, casualties will again become nameless, and suffers will again lose their identity.

The homes will again be destroyed politely, those killed will again be killed in a clean and sterile manner, and the distress will again become part of anti-Semitic propaganda.

But let's not show contempt to small matters. A few minutes of recognizing Palestinian suffering constitute an enlightening change.

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