The television news reporter was on the streets of Tel Aviv tonight. He was gathering vox pops from “ordinary Israelis” about the conflict currently raging on their northern border. A woman with an Israeli-American accent expressed concern and regret about the civilian deaths in southern Lebanon. But, she pointed out, those people had been warned. The Israeli government had told them to leave their villages, so it wasn’t Israel’s fault that they were getting killed.
I was struck by the odd way that people – even educated Israeli-American students with tie-dyed t-shirts who probably have all manner of liberal social views – will develop a fundamentalist tribal mindset that allows them to judge Them and Us by radically different standards.
If the Syrian army announced that it was soon to begin carrying out airstrikes against Northern Israel, would the people living there voluntarily leave? Because the Syrians told them to? The memory of what happened when their own government asked Israeli settlers to leave illegally occupied territory is still fairly fresh.
You see, by and large, people try to avoid being driven from their land by foreign armies. By anyone in fact. So me? I blame Hezbollah for the deaths in Northern Israel. I blame the people who launched the missiles and those who told them to… aware that they may well be condemning decent, peaceful human beings to violent deaths. I certainly don’t blame the victims of terrorism because they refused to obey orders from the very people launching bombs at them. Indeed, to blame a dead child in Haifa for its own death at the hands of Hezbollah attackers is a peculiarly twisted thing to do.
Similarly, when a dead body is pulled from the rubble of southern Lebanon, it takes a twisted fundamentalist mindset to blame the person whose life has been stolen. All bombing is terrorism.