Mick Hume goes to Sderot

Trawling through the media coverage of Israel’s attack on Gaza, thankfully not every commentator follows the comment/analysis by the Telegraph’s Sean Rayment that Israel is “Addicted to violence”. How Rayment expects to be taken seriously as a supposedly impartial defence correspondent after churning out this nonsense is a mystery to me. Among some media at least, including some perhaps surprising commentators, there seems to be a more nuanced view of events.

This morning on the Today programme James Naughtie picked up on the AFP story that Hamas is refusing to allow the injured and wounded out to Egypt, where doctors are waiting in vain to treat them.

Over at CIF Seth Freedman, who is consistently and harshly critical of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, writes under the un-Guardianish headline: ‘The Recklessness of Hamas’:

As Israeli spokesmen have reiterated time and again in the media, there is not a country in the world which would allow such assaults to take place on a daily basis without taking action to defend their citizens. Hamas knew this, and that their barrage of rockets would inevitably bring retaliation on the people of Gaza. Despite the ever-louder sabre-rattling by Israeli politicians during the last week, Hamas continued to use heavily-populated civilian centres as launching pads for their daily attacks on Israel.

before asking:

Who will castigate Hamas for their reckless endangerment of civilian lives in Gaza?

While over at my own paper, The Times, Mick Hume, recounts a recent trip to Sderot:

To make sense of a conflict in which both sides claim to be victims requires more than an emotional response to gory pictures. I support the Palestinian right to self-determination. But I am disturbed by the rise of anti-Israeli sentiments in Britain and the West, as when my old friends on the Left declared: “We are all Hezbollah now.”


“The Israelis I met bear no comparison with the caricature of expansionist “Zio-Nazis”. “

and even:

Back in Sderot, Mr Avraham, the [Israeli] paramedic spoke of his future hopes: “I am left-wing, I believe in peace, we don’t have a choice. I hope to live here side by side one day.” Just so long, many might sadly say today, as those sides have a security barrier between them.

The rights and wrongs of the security fence aside, such nuanced arguments all brought back happy memories of my student days arguing and debating (civilly) with my friends in the former Revolutionary Communist Party, publishers of Living Marxism magazine, for which Mick used to work. Unlike the brainless robo-mini-trots of the Socialist Workers Party, the RCP were usually at least willing to engage intellectually. Perhaps finally there is some kind of intellectual backlash or shift going on in parts of the British left over their comrades’ hero worship of Hamas and Hezbollah.

For more on the world’s responses to Israel’s attack on Gaza see Tom Gross.