They need their bloody heads knocking together them two…
Israel v Palestine eh? What a rivalry that one is! Two sides exchanging blows like prize fighters. I wonder which one will come out on top… proper edge of the seat stuff. But wait, this isn’t sport, it’s real fighting, with bloodshed, death and destruction. So why can’t these two sides just put down their weapons and get along? The BBC’s reporters are talking of a truce between the two sides, and Tony Blair has said he’s sure Israel will stop retaliating as soon as Palestine stop putting in their snide digs when Israel isn’t looking.
I’ve just looked up some information on the two sides to see which has the advantage in case they don’t listen to the voices of reason and peace-making like Blair. One side is a military superpower, ably supported by the biggest and most powerful nations in the world, who have armed it to the hilt, with nuclear capabilities among other things. This side is Israel.
The other side is an occupied territory without official statehood. The UN refuses to accept it as a country, and its people are dependent on occupying military forces whenever they want to move across the boundaries set up by the occupiers. This means that for many, to get to school or work, or to hospital, they have to wait in line at a border crossing, get searched at gun point and accept the decision of the guards whether to let them pass or not. They don’t like living like this, and some have formed armed groups to fight against the occupying forces, and one of these forms the democratically elected government of that land. This side is Palestine, and in case you hadn’t worked it out, the occupying military force is Israel.
To get some idea of the lie of the land, I looked up statistics* on the people and territory that each of these sides represent. Israel has a measly 238 people per square kilometre, whereas Gaza – which is the part of Palestine on which Israel are concentrating their current attacks – has a whopping 4,454 people per square kilometre. Sounds like the Palestinians are bullies to me.
This presents a terrible moral dilemma for Israel, as when they try to target the weapons in Gaza, they can’t help but also blow up some of the people squeezed in to that strip of land that they surround and won’t let out. Israel have tried to lead by example though, by taking over parts of Gaza (as well as the West Bank, another part of Palestine occupied by Israeli forces) and building decent, spacious houses with plenty of land around. In Gaza, the Israeli settlers that live in those houses number just 51 people per square kilometre and so need extra military protection from the angry people they’ve displaced.
Here’s a few more stats**. Between September 2000 and April 2012, 1,096 Israelis and 6,568 Palestinians had been killed. Those figures include 126 Israeli children and 1,476 Palestinian children. In terms of injuries, the figures are 10,792 Israelis and 59,575 Palestinians. In 2011, the US provided Israel with at least $8.2 million per day in military aid, and sent $0 to the Palestinians.
Our media, being very careful not to come across as taking sides of course, are talking of intractable differences and above all, of two sides slugging it out and not listening to the pleas to stop fighting coming from the countries that arm and fund one of the sides and help isolate and subdue the other. To describe it as a war of two sides in which ‘they are both as bad as each other’ is like those news stories that say things like “an elderly woman was in collision with a truck this morning…” Technically, both sides may have been moving at the moment of impact and initially they might not know which side was at fault, if any, and so you can kind of understand why they phrase it that way, but if the truck had reversed and run over her multiple times, the press would find other, less objective, ways of reporting the story.
Israel and Palestine look like they might well agree a kind of ‘truce’, no doubt after having their heads knocked together by the sensible, unbiased civilised world. They can then both get back to normal and their people can enjoy their lives peacefully. So next time you see an old man desperately trying to fend of the kicks and stamps of a group of young men, remember there are two sides to every story. Whatever you do, don’t do anything to help the old man, cos that’d be age discrimination, and after all, have the young men not got every right to defend themselves against someone lashing out against their continued aggression?
* Source: the Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture
** Source: B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories