I struggle a bit with my feelings about Gaza.  My e mail is full of people caring passionately and straightforwardly about it.  And I do too.  But I’ve spent a lot of time in my life witnessing for peace.  I gradually came to feel more and more mocked by those who are simply resolutely and unshakeably determined to use violence – either terrorists or securitat-minded governments.  It takes more than marches.  But these are some of my thoughts …

Disproportionate.  The idea that one would use tanks in one of the most densely-packed civilian populations on earth is extraordinary.  Disproportionate in scale – disproportionate in the cost in lives.  Not therefore just.

The link between a civilian population and terrorist groups is subtle and difficult.  What happens is that the civilian population does not agree with terrorist actions – but has an underlying sympathy with the aims.  And the more the population as a whole feels under attack, the more successfully can the terrorists claim to be their defenders.  To wage war without addressing the underlying political issues which connect the terrorists to the civilian population from among whom they arise is just inadequate.

And then there is the secure/insecure question.  The Israelis appear to be the most powerful military force in the region .. yet they seem to be perpetually insecure, ever-conscious of the Arab nations all around them.  That has a sort of familiar feel .. living among the Ulster Protestants – a majority in Northern Ireland but perpetually insecure – a minority in the whole of Ireland.

May peace come soon.


  1. And now we have a ceasefire and an opportunity to rebuild — and the BBC refusing airtime to the DEC Gaza Appeal! What a crazy, mixed up world!

  2. I’ve got into difficulty before with NI parallels. They never quite work. But the Israeli mindset of perpetual insecurity needs some exploring

    I don’t think there is an equivalence of suffering – although some dreadful things were done in NI in the name of ‘security’.

    If I have a problem here, it is the danger of attempting to explore why things happen – without appearing to equate understanding with condoning.

    I think that what is happening in Gaza is a moral and humanitarian disaster. And it won’t work either – if this is how the Israelis think that you deal with politically-motivated terrorism embedded in a civilian population.

  3. Like you and coming from the N Irish Protestant tradition (but with friends and relations in Israel who are very committed to everything the state does – ‘my country right or wrong’) I’ve been thinking of the N Irish parallels. Can you imagine the worldwide condemnation and (certain fall of government) if the British Army had been sent into the Falls and used a similar level of violence with jets and helicopter gunships to ‘flush out’ the IRA? There were many atrocities in the course of the N Irish conflict but they all pale into insignificance compared with the sheer inhumanity of the war in Gaza.

  4. Interested in your closing comment about N. Ireland; otherwise relieved to see you writing much the same as I did yesterday (only more elegantly!)

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