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Sunday 4 January 2009

Brave Israel has every right to bomb Hamas 

WHAT with universities, the press, a majority of journalists and the Department of Foreign Affairs and other strongholds of the liberal establishment being awash with the woolly-minded and/or loathers of Israel, it's time for those of us who admire that beleaguered, courageous little democratic upholder of freedom and enlightenment once again to declare our support.

On behalf of the woolly-minded, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin has strongly condemned the Israeli bombardment as a "wholly disproportionate and unacceptable response". As we know from our own history, he added, "actions such as these . . . serve to continue and to escalate the cycle of violence". So what would you suggest, Micheal? A visit from Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson to explain how a peace process can be conducted?

When will we get it into our collective thick heads that our own rather simple tribal problem on this island has little relevance to those in far-away countries of which we know little? This is not a matter of the settler and the natives finding a way of divvying up power, but of a small country trying to survive.

The majority of Israelis are desperate for peace, and accept a two-state solution in which land is bartered for security. But as the leftish Israeli revisionist historian Professor Benny Morris, who has never hesitated to condemn Israeli military excesses, wrote last week in the New York Times, they are also fearful that "the walls -- and history -- are closing in on their 60-year-old state". Despite peace treaties, most of the Arab and wider Islamic world continue to deny Israel's legitimacy; in the West, where the Holocaust is a distant memory and Arab states increasingly powerful, anti-Israeli propaganda is turning public opinion negative.

Yet Israel is facing terrible threats everywhere it looks. East is Iran, where the crazy President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who hangs homosexuals and apostates, wants to eradicate Israel with nuclear weapons just as swiftly. North, in Lebanon, is Iran's proxy, Hizbollah, dedicated to destroying Israel with the help of the 40,000 or so Russian-made rockets supplied by Iran and Syria, its northern neighbour. South is Hamas, whose ruthlessness was evident when they drove Fatah, their political opponents, out of the Gaza Strip, from which Israel had withdrawn as part of a peace deal which Hamas has systematically breached.

At home, although in sharp contrast to the Arab countries which persecute Jews and Christians, Israel has treated its Arab citizens (1.3 million to 5.5 million Jews) well: their reward has been the gradual radicalisation of Israeli Arabs, whose high birthrate presents a demographic threat.

One-tenth of the Israeli population is within reach of the rockets that Hamas militants had been firing into their territory day and night even before the leadership announced a unilateral end to the ceasefire. It is the constant terror under which their people live that has united Israelis behind their political leaders in the attacks on Gaza, even though they realise Hamas has deliberately provoked such actions. As Amos Oz, the Israeli peace activist, has written, though Israel would rather have the ceasefire, it must defend its citizens. Yet to do so militarily will have global repercussions: "The Arab world will rally together around the atrocious sights that Al-Jazeera will air from Gaza, and the world court of opinion will rush to accuse Israel of war crimes. This is the same court of public opinion that remains unmoved by the systematic bombing of population centres in Israel."

And lo, the UN and all the usual suspects are already morally equating Hamas terrorists' deliberate targeting of civilians with Israel's response in targeting terrorists who have cynically centred their operations in population centres. Bombing Gaza, said Oz, is a lose/lose for Israel: "Hamas's calculation is simple, cynical and evil: if innocent Israelis are killed -- good. If innocent Palestinians are killed -- even better." How reminiscent of our own dear IRA, who secretly whooped with delight every time the security forces in Northern Ireland unwittingly killed an innocent Catholic.

Yet how can you leave your citizens to live in daily fear?

Not all Israel's neighbours are bigoted basket-cases. Egypt is increasingly fed-up with Hamas and keeps its border closed lest the exploited and suffering population of Gaza flee the Hamas nightmare. Though it is prepared to take the injured, Hamas prevents their evacuation. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the foreign minister, has said pointedly that since Egypt had long since warned Hamas that Israel would respond in this manner, those who did not heed the warning "should bear the responsibility". At the same press conference, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said: "We spoke to them and told them 'Please, we ask you not to end the ceasefire. Let it continue. We want to protect the Gaza Strip. We don't want it to be destroyed'."

As the deaths mount, blame the murderous Islamist ideologues, not their Jewish, Christian and Muslim victims.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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