Israel’s reaction has been vicious and misdirected

Hamas aren't looking for peace, but the response they've provoked has resulted in the deaths of a shocking number of innocent Palestinians

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My colleagues Kim Sengupta, Robert Fisk and other foreign journalists report from the killing fields of the Middle East day in, day out. They keep their heads clear, their eyes and ears open, and still provoke shocking antipathy.

A spitting mad British Jewish businessman came up to me last week and accused this paper of being anti-Semitic and Sengupta of being an apologist for Muslim terrorism, even though some of his most graphic reports have been of Muslims killing other Muslims. According to this gentleman, I do nothing as Arabs try to destroy his country. His country? And what should I do exactly? Condemn Palestinians, said he, “loudly clearly, without excuses”.

This vignette dramatised the mindset of hardline Zionists. It is a combination of paranoia, indiscriminate loyalty and odium towards any person or group opposed to Israel’s violent oppression of Palestinians.

Conscientious Jews do condemn what is done even though dissidence is often avenged. (Uri Avnery, a former member of the Knesset, now a columnist, damned the barbaric revenge murder of a Palestinian boy and bombs raining on Gaza which followed the kidnap and brutal murders of three innocent Israeli teenagers.)

But most either keep quiet or approve of the tactics which last week led to the deaths of about 100 people: most of them civilians, many of them children, and some disabled residents of a care home.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has called for an investigation into the bomb raids. Not a single Israeli has died since this latest battle broke out between Hamas militants – who fire rockets into southern Israel – and Israel’s super-army. Jonathan Cook, who won the Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism, claims in an article in CounterPunch that the economics minister Naftali Bennett has called for the country to “go mad”; that a former legislator wants to turn Ramadan into a month of darkness; and that rabbis are inciting attacks.

David here is Palestine; Goliath the nuclear armed, unaccountable Jewish state. 

The accusatory missiles which will come flying at me by now: let’s deal with them. This latest inferno began with the kidnap and killing of three Israeli teens – Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. Palestinian militants commit such brutal acts which often set off periodic conflagrations.

 

They do not want peace and care not how many suffer or die. Israelis have inherited existential fear which comes out of an excruciating past. Arab anti-Semitism is widespread. Sometimes the defence of Palestinians veils a hatred of Jews. None of that can mitigate the excessive violence now sanctioned by the Israelis in power.

When Jihadis commit atrocities, British Muslims are collectively blamed, told to protest, to issue statements from mosques, to say sorry, to stop the Islamicists. Israel builds walls, grabs land, introduces racist rules, imprisons Palestinian children, uses grotesque force and gets undeclared donations from British Zionists, and British Jews are not asked to march, or issue condemnations or promises.

The Holocaust – one of the most obscene, inhumane pogroms in world history – is now used as a guarantee of perpetual indemnity by a state which was to be a sanctuary and an exemplar of survival, dignity and morality. Israel’s leadership has discarded moral sense and wants to eliminate Palestinians altogether from the pitifully small bits of land they live in. They have learnt the wrong lessons from their own history and seem to be modelling themselves on Europeans who took over Australia, North and South America.

There are no peace talks now. All hopes for a two-state solution have gone. Israel is out of control and its powerful allies stand by, watch and silently approve. I would include here the small number of journalists who are the mouthpieces of extreme Zionism.

Campaigners for justice for Palestinians  should direct their criticisms to the governments of the US, Canada and the UK, various Western political parties and the EU. Just this week, on the 10th anniversary of the apartheid wall that was built by Israel, 86 leading jurists called for global institutions to take some meaningful action. Deadly inaction continued.

EU-funded shelters for homeless Palestinians were taken and demolished by Israel this April. The EU said and did nothing. Instead, from time to time, it threatens to cut off vital aid to the countless Palestinians who have no medicines, no hope, no work, no sustenance and much anger.

In April, 23 MEPs wrote to Cathy Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief. They want the EU to suspend the Association Agreement made with Israel which is violating every human rights law enshrined by the UN and other bodies. Their demands were ignored. Barack Obama has shown his cowardly side when it comes to Israel. All those grand gestures and stirring speeches and he cannot utter a single line censuring Netanyahu and his gang.

In past conflicts and wars, collaborators were seen for what they were – people who facilitated evil. So it is with our times. Name them. Shame them.

Linklater’s latest is unlike anything we have ever seen

Director Richard Linklater is an eclectic and edgy director who always upends audience expectations. He is one of those American indie directors who, since the 1990s, have done their own thing, staying clear of formulaic themes and mainstream genres. Though a fave of film buffs, Linklater, whose films include School of Rock and A Scanner Darkly, hasn’t been a big name, unlike Tarantino or Woody Allen. That will surely change now. His new film, Boyhood, is ingenious, captivating and unforgettable.

It took 12 years to make and is the slow story of a six-year-old boy, Mason Jnr, as he grows up in a family which, like all others, has its up and down times, unhappiness, turns of fate, self-inflicted wounds and resilience. Ellar Coltrane , who has a  soulful, expressive face, plays the boy. Patricia Arquette is the mum, and Ethan Hawke the dad.

So, just another American family drama, you might think. But it isn’t, because the actors were filmed as they themselves grew older, the story picked up at various points along the way, a photo album that has been brought to life. Linklater thus examines the difference between emotional and real time, turning life into delicate art, and art  more real than actual memory and recollection. And behind the domestic tales, vast changes in society come along, challenging the protagonists.

Mike Leigh and Michael Winterbottom famously use improvisation and untutored actors in their work, but this is unlike anything we have ever seen in the cinema before. Seeing the fragility and brevity of our time on earth, facing hard truths, brings on tears and extraordinary catharsis.

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