Can you imagine justifying the obliteration of civilians in the streets? The shooting of families? The blowing up of toddlers? That’s exactly what’s been happening in the debate about Israel and Gaza. All the discussion centres around who was justified for their actions, while questions linger over whether killing innocent children should be considered anti-humanitarian.
America, the rest of the West, and the media are all blamed for being pro-Israel, yet Hamas is being torn apart for apparently inciting the war. For every argument, there’s a counter-argument, which is indeed the definition of debate. But if this was your life, your parents, siblings or children, would you really care about debate? Would you not just want to protect your loved ones?
North America and Western Europe have been protected from large scale violence and war since the end of World War Two. Residents sit and discuss tragedy across the globe with a hint of pity and a strong sense of security. When the issues have been talked through or the reality of a three-year-old’s head being blown off becomes too much, the discussion weaves its way into an unrelated topic, often with a huge “anyway”.
We don’t have the facts. We are a million miles from the excruciating existence of civilians at the mercy of internal and foreign aggressors. Who are we to lay blame when casualties are apparent on both sides? If you’re in the depths of the warzone you’re not taking account of each other’s death toll. Social media, the internet, video, photography, instant news; they all get information to us fast. But it’s all bias, whether the reporter (civilian or professional) means it to be. Simply standing in one place over another is enough to create prejudice. It’s not intended but it has consequences.
If we as unrelated people can take such strong views on the issue, imagine the scale of the task to broker peace between these troubled communities on the ground. The next time you fight vehemently to defend either Israel or Palestine, ask what you are defending. Is it not human life that should be preserved? Debate about who is in the wrong shows human life is secondary to winning, to being proven right, to knowing what is best – triumphs at the heart of every conflict the world over.
It is amazing that despite technological advancement, and so-called sophistication, the world still centres on dominance and the rhetoric of ‘my way is better than yours’. So much boils down to prioritising one way of life over another when the only real solution is compromise. Humans – in our desperation to be different, special, superior – are so fundamentally the same. That similarity is epitomised in the vulnerability of an unarmed family suffering the showers of shells and rockets. There is no right; only the bloody battle to a middle ground.