October 09, 2007

Israel deliberately targets children

I read this in Ha'aretz on Sunday. Gideon Levy on Israel's propensity to kill children. Apparently Israel's still building up its "proof" that they didn't kill Mohammed al Dura.
The concern Israel demonstrates for the fate of one Palestinian boy touches the heart: Again, note what a fuss is being made about the case of the killing of Mohammed al-Dura. Our heart is impervious to the fate of other children who have been killed. Just little Mohammed continues to haunt us. But the question of who killed al-Dura is not important. And maybe he is even alive, as some eccentrics claim. Perhaps he committed suicide, as the strange investigations are liable to suggest.

All of these are tasteless questions designed to divert attention from the truly important issues: According to data collected by human rights group B'Tselem, Israel is responsible for killing more than 850 Palestinian children and teenagers since al-Dura was killed, including 92 in the past year alone. Last October, we killed 31 children in Gaza. This is what should have raised a storm and not the measurements by the former head of the Israel Defense Forces' Southern Command, Yom Tov Samiyeh, aimed at proving that his soldiers did not kill al-Dura, or the "investigations" by the physicist Nahum Shahaf. In an eccentric obsession, Shahaf has devoted the past years to this affair
I often do what I just did. I take a piece of the article, copy and paste it and then intend to sign off with a little outro. But then I read on and find a better chunk. How's this?
A thousand Nahum Shahafs will not succeed in blurring the unequivocal fact that a scandalous killing of children is taking place in the territories.
It's not a bad one, is it? The problem is that it doesn't stand alone without knowing who this Nahum Shahaf is.

I want something that simply makes it clear that Israel targets children. Let's try another piece:
Even if the director of the Government Press Office, Danny Seaman, is right in determining that the film made by the reliable and experienced French journalist Charles Enderlin was "staged," and even if he succeeds in clearing Israel from responsibility for this killing, what will we say about the other children who have been killed? That their killing was also "staged?" That the IDF did not kill them through carelessness and contempt for their lives; by being trigger-happy and even acting with premeditation?
It's getting worse. I need a soundbite.

How about a look at Engage. I thought I saw something about Israel targeting children. Obviously it wasn't an exposé, not a deliberate one anyway. Let's have a look. Ok, they have a headline, 'The Israeli army snipers deliberately target children' - Yvonne Ridley. It's not an article. It's a film clip of a speech by Yvonne Ridley. But they do put a link to a pamphlet by Anthony Julius titled "Blood Libel." Are they accusing Yvonne Ridley of blood libel? They don't actually say so. But the headline doesn't help with my soundbite. It does lead me to suspect that Engage are trying to "persuade" people not to mention Israel's child killing army. So let's look at the comments. Sometimes they let dissenters through.

The first comment is ludicrously sexist and claims that the Mohammed al Dura killing "was all faked." I don't think Hirsh would have approved that comment but it came from a close associate of Alf Green. Long story. The next is a well informed and sourced comment from that Fred again. He seems to be the resident dissident at Engage these days, though I don't look at the site half as much as you might think. Anyway he has a little catalogue of Israel's child murders which smokes out that David Miller guy. He tries the old "one bad apple" routine but Engage have bungled badly here.

They have this tactic where they say, "they say Israel kills children deliberately!" as if there's something wrong saying that. But listening to Yvonne Ridley, by the way I'm not a fan, the evidence of Israel's child killing is pretty damning. What was I saying? Oh yes, they've bungled so they're going to have to delete the post and pretend it never happened or they'll have to get one of their prize winning celebrities to bail them out. Step forward Linda Grant. Now, what does this house believe. This house believes that "Israeli army snipers deliberately target children." And what does Linda Grant say?
Suicide bombers deliberately target children, cf the Sbarro restaurant bombing in Jerusalem
Wow. No wonder she won a Leopold Bloom award and before that a Jaffa. As it happens when I first saw the comments, that was the last one. I couldn't believe either Linda Grant or Engage would stoop so low as to seek to justify the killing of children. Linda Grant is no longer an editor (or whatever it was) at Engage so she might not be in the loop as to tactics. I just explained the method. Israel gets accused of some dastardly thing and you pretend to be shocked as you repeat the accusation and that shocked response is your denial. Whataboutery is an admission, nay more, a justification, an excuse.

I don't know if he realised that Linda Grant had perhaps been a little too spontaneous but David Miller was back pretty sharply to help her out here with what must be her favourite words "Linda is right of course." But then this awkward chap, Chris Bertram, who, I think, supported the war on Iraq and broadly supports Israel, said:
I'm dumbfounded that Linda Grant can respond with a complacent "they do it too".
Actually even I was a little taken aback. Bertram followed up with a chunk of Gideon Levy's article above. Things get weird after that. Paul Miller comes back to explain what Linda Grant must have meant, apparently without consulting her. Another Engage regular accuses Bertram of "bullshit." But Linda Grant hasn't come back so far to back up what she said. Still with a champion like Paul Miller, why should she.

Still, I can't complain. I got my soundbite.
Israel deliberately targets children
And it's all thanks to Linda Grant at (though not of) Engage.

UPDATE: Chris Bertram has been in touch to say
I didn't support the war on Iraq.

I'm not sure whether I "broadly support Israel" by your lights. According to the "decent left" I don't.

I was against the academic boycott and supported a ballot, but (largely) disagree with David Hirsh's ascription of base motives to pro-boycotters.
I posted an apology above this post.

Whilst clicking around for this update I had another look at the Engage comments and Linda Grant has been back to explain her one-liner, here:
Heavens, I had no idea this debate was going on. My words were in no way intended to imply, 'they do it too, so it's okay.' The killing of children in conflict whether targeted or 'colaterel damage' or 'caught in the crossfire' is insupportable. Having spent a harrowing day in the presence of the father of a 13-year-old who was murdered by a bus bomber in Haifa, which I wrote about in the Guardian, I merely wished to remind Yvonne Ridley that the targeted murder of children is not confined to one side in the conflict, though it is absolutely true to say that there have been far more deaths of children on the Palestinian side than on the Israel side. It is the deaths, and the cold-blooded, callous lack of empathy of the killers which is, for me, the central issue, not the political motivation or excuses.
And here:
And lest the final remark be too laconic for some: it is not acceptable to say, well, we have to kill kids to fight terror, or we have to kill kids to defy the occupation. If some see that as moral equivalence, fine. I just don't like dead kids, whatever their nationality, religion etc. Yvonne Ridley, on the other hand, will excuse and explain away the bodies of dead Israeli children. And that is my objection.
No it's not her objection. Her objection is to the fact that publicising Israel's killing of children is bad news for Israel. How can I assume this. Well look at this Comment is free piece about the work of a war photo-journalist:
A child mutilated by modern warfare; without the caption, who knows his nationality? He might be a Palestinian kid, injured by the fall-out of an Israeli hit on a militant's house. He could be an Israeli boy who was eating pizza at a cafe in west Jerusalem moments before a suicide bomber detonated himself. Or he could be in an another part of the world altogether
Many Palestinian children have been killed by a single bullet and yet Linda Grant chooses to mention a Palestinian kid "injured" and an Israeli boy who was killed, ok, maybe injured, but the latter, for her, was targeted. She went to some trouble to suggest that Palestinian children are not actually targets whilst demonstrating that Palestinians do indeed target children. But if children get hurt or killed by Israel it's "fall-out." And what did she say again?
I just don't like dead kids, whatever their nationality, religion etc. Yvonne Ridley, on the other hand, will excuse and explain away the bodies of dead Israeli children. And that is my objection.
Again I say, no it isn't


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