Two Wrongs…….

 This has been bugging me ever since Hamas were stupid/ callous enough to raid Israel on the 7th October. What did they expect would happen with the current right-wing government that is in power in Israel?  There is a lot of truth in what Israel are saying about Hamas using their own peoples lives for propaganda.

However, and this is a very big however, there is, or at least there should be, a huge difference between the terrorist organisation Hamas and a legitimate state like Israel.  I’ll give you a couple of rough, home grown definitions that might hopefully illustrate the point.  We have a lot of experience in dealing with terrorists here in Northern Ireland.  What Israel is doing categorically will not work.  They will not get rid of Hamas, in fact heavy handed tactics like they are applying will only drive more volunteers into the ranks of Hamas.

1)      A terrorist organisation does not follow the rule of law, that's why they are an illegal organisation.  They have a cause/ belief that conquers all sense of morality or indeed anything else in life, bar money.  They don’t care what happens so long as they believe that are furthering the cause, so to them, dealing in drugs, killing non-believers, extortion, etc. etc. etc is all justifiable.  The only thing that ever seems to divert this twisted thought process is money, so frequently some or all the organisation ends up becoming so corrupt that they move from their own warped idealism to become full members of the worlds organised crime network.  We have this in Northern Ireland as one of the costs of the peace process.  It could have been handled better.  There are exceptions of course.  I truly believe that people like Martin McGuiness did try to make peace and to make this daft province better for everyone.

2)      A state, or at least a democratic state, has laws that are sacrosanct.  The state should live by the law just as it expects everyone of its citizens to do so.  If not, then what exactly does the state stand for, and why should we consider it to be any better than terrorists?  Obviously, democratic states live or die by the support of their people, and to earn their votes, this support is something of a two-way street.   The state gives, just as it expects to receive taxes and votes.  Israel in this case seems to be pandering to it's right wing supporters.  Yet, democratic states are not responsible only to those who voted for them. They cannot expect every one of the citizens within their jurisdictions to agree with government policy all the time, yet they must represent those who disagree with them too.  All citizens have rights, not the least of which is the right to life.  Neither does this responsibility end at their own borders.  In this case, if the Israeli government believes in the right to life of its own citizens, then it must believe that innocent civilians in Gaza also have a right to life.  If Israel's army and bombs kill civilians in Gaza, it is ultimately not Hamas that pulled the trigger, it is Israel.  The alternative to war in this case is both long and difficult but that does not excuse the Israeli governments choice to bomb the hell out of Gaza.

Can you imagine how laughingly stupid it would be as a defence for any person in court on trial for murder, to admit that they did the killing, but to then plead innocence because the person they killed lived in the same city as someone who had killed one of their relatives?  Get real!

The problem for states is that they have these moral and legal duties to their citizens and to the world.  While that may make it difficult for Israel to get their hostages back and to bring the Hamas perpetrators to justice, that difficulty does not excuse what Israel is doing now in Gaza.

It is also counterproductive, since the anger it raises among people who have not supported Hamas before will invariably lead to an influx of new supporters for the terrorists.  It happened here and in numerous other countries, and you can bet that right now, Hamas has its recruiters out scouring the streets of the West Bank feeding off the anger of those brave enough to protest against Israel’s actions.

Hamas does not exist in a vacuum.  All the illegal West Bank settlements, and all the clearances with bulldozers add up.  The Palestinians have lived in that country for many generations.  It is their land too, and if Israel wants to exist in peace, it needs to come to terms with this and to give everyone within its borders the same rights.  Just as gerrymandering and the allocation of jobs and housing on the basis of religion in this province was wrong, so too is the systematic bias shown in the Israeli state.

There are good, bad, and indifferent people in all cultures, religions, and races.  No state can punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty and still expect to hold any sort of moral high ground.  Israel has fallen into Hamas’s simple trap, and and as a result it has perpetuated this conflict for many years to come.  This foolhardy 'hit harder than you have been hit' approach will be incredibly costly in terms of life on both sides and moves resolution further and further away.  States have courts, and everyone is supposedly due their day in one of them in a just society.  There is no justice on either side in that sorry country, and there is no justification on either side for what has and will be done.  Israel was in a difficult position because of the actions of Hamas, but it is only making the situation worse.

As a very famous Jewish man once said:-

How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man?

How many seas must a white dove sail

Before she sleeps in the sand?

Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly

Before they're forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, and how many years must a mountain exist

Before it is washed to the sea?

And how many years can some people exist

Before they're allowed to be free?

Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head

And pretend that he just doesn't see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, and how many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky?

And how many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, and how many deaths will it take 'til he knows

That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Blowing In The Wind (Live On TV, March 1963) - YouTube

It's a pity that people still aren't listening.


Incidentally, (and this is a rather flippant comment in relation to the serious issues above), those with loyalist sympathies have often used the six pointed Star of David as a symbol to represent the six counties here in Northern Ireland.  It's not as common now, but small gold or silver star pendants used to be a fairly common sight.  I suppose for propaganda purposes it could also have had the connotation of loyalists being 'God's chosen people'.  In the hyper religious society that used to exist here, I wouldn't discount the latter.


  1. Got to agree with you Ian that this will not solve anything in the long run unless traditional and legitimate wrongs are addressed. Protecting democracy by undemocratic means is sometimes necessary but impossible in this instance. The fact that United Nations has no teeth doesn't help either.


  2. Thanks Geoff. Good to hear from you. Let's hope that sense prevails in the many conflicts that seem to be popping up all over the world. I'm a firm believer that we all have more in common that we have differences.



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