Celebrations on Tel Aviv beaches followed news of the rescue of four Israeli hostages. As part of an alleged clinical, precise military exercise, as many as 300 Palestinians were killed and 700 injured, but in Israeli revellers’ eyes, this latest slaughter of Palestinians is of no consequence, even welcomed.

This massacre of Palestinian men, women and children  is only one of several which cautious politicians and their media supporters refuse to name as genocide. The same cautious operators even wonder if South Africa, joined by Ireland, Spain and Slovenia should have dared to take exceptional Israel before the International Criminal Court (ICJ).

In what world do those who refuse to condemn Israel live ? Under what morality do the deniers and those too scared to speak truth to power live? Why can’t an alleged human rights abiding country such as Australia name Israeli policies as grotesque and genocidal?

An answer to that question reveals a certain fear and cowardice.

The UN has just added Israel, along with Hamas, to the list of states which commit violations against children, including in Israel’s case their killing of over 17,000 children in Gaza. You might think that such a listing would provoke circumspection, perhaps even a few signs of remorse. No sign of that.

In response to its black listing of Israel, the UN is treated to an angry, holier than thou Israeli claim that theirs is the most moral army in the world.’  Gilad Erdan, Israeli Ambassador to the UN puts on an angry denial performance and asserts he is  ‘shocked and disgusted by this shameful decision.’ How dare anyone say Israel violates children?

No-one calls him out. No-one says stop lying, stop the  brutalities, act as though you have a touch of civility and will try to respect the rules of international law.

Even when otherwise gutsy BBC journalists interview Israeli military spokesperson Peter Lerner about murders in a Rafah tent camp and the recent slaughters associated with the rescue of hostages, they allow this smooth operator to get away with murder. In regard to both sets of killings, Lerner claims these were precision strikes which showed that Israel was doing everything possible to limit civilian casualties.

The journalists let the military man plough on with his Orwellian fuming: killing is a form of defence, victims are the real perpetrators, Hamas and the hundreds of children who must have been sleeping in the same building are the ones we should be blaming.

Lerner gets stroked with a feather and thanked for giving the interview. No one says, what you say is outrageous. Have you considered that your propagandised spin amounts to not telling the truth? When will you cease these disgraceful performances?

In a culture where reports on death and destruction as the order of the day, albeit coupled to the justified demands for hostages to be released, the principles that make life desirable and possible are seldom heard. In most political and mainstream media circles there are too few requests about a restoration of human rights, about the meaning of civility, fairness, let alone any ideas on how to construct peace with justice.

In the Australian Federal parliament, instead of a careful, empirically based appraisal of the latest deaths and destruction in Gaza and on the West Bank, the major parties decide to obtain political advantage by replacing discussion of Israeli policies by ganging up on the Greens. An onlooker could be forgiven for thinking that a party which has supported the ICJ rulings, which has spoken of genocide, which has referred to peace, even to the value of non violence, is somehow responsible for the lack of social cohesion in Australia.

Given the end of time slaughters and engineered famine in Gaza, the finger pointing scenes in Federal Parliament were sickening, but were then followed by the stifling, age old claims that the priority issue is anti-Semitism.

No-one should doubt that along with other prejudices, such as anti-Palestinianism, anti-Semitism should be condemned and outlawed, but in the midst of the horrors committed against the Palestinians, is anti- Semitism the issue?

To answer that question, recall Professor Henry Reynold’s judgement, ‘The West believes anti-Semitism is a more egregious problem than genocide’ (P&I of May 10/2024). Reynolds also referred to the deliberate corruption of news to defend Israel and the sensitivity of Zionists everywhere else.

Instead of summoning courage to consider the history of the decades which preceded the Hamas slaughter in October 2023, which have given members of the Israeli Cabinet the justification to wipe out all Palestinians – yes, that’s what they say – the main political, media messages are preoccupied with Hamas. To even question this preoccupation is regarded as controversial because it might imply a failure to attribute all blame to one group of terrorists.

If historians and other commentators asked who have been the terrorists in seventy years of Palestinian struggle, they might not be preoccupied with Hamas. In P&I of May 27 (‘Israel and Hamas no moral equivalence’) I’ve recorded the details of only eighteen massacres of Palestinians by Israeli terrorists and by the Israeli military between 1948 and 2024. Yet western political debate about Gaza and the West Bank glosses over the devastating violence which preceded the Hamas breakout in October 2023. The British House of Commons can’t even acknowledge the Balfour Declaration deceit of 1917. To do so would require courage. Instead, fear and cowardice perpetuate the idea that Ia country has a right to defend itself even by slaughtering thousands on lands which do not belong to Israel.

Refusal to challenge the historical stereotype of Israel as the victim, even as a moral operator in  a ‘democracy’, gives the Israeli government an almost blank cheque to achieve victory by slaughtering thousands more Palestinian children.

Instead of debate being affected by reluctance to criticise the Israeli government claims, instead of debate continuing to be characterised by fear and cowardice, there is an opportunity to change perception and understanding.

Following a succession of slaughters carried out by precision attacks intended to harm no civilians, the West needs to show why this Israeli state is grotesque and to ask who in heaven’s name still supports them?

Courtesy Pearls and Irritations, 11 June 2024.