Stone me! We'll have to send in Alan Titchmarsh and the UN

'Both sides are armed: one with nuclear capacity and tanks, while the other side chucks rubble'
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The Independent Online

He'll prod the cat, tweak its tail, push it from the settee into a dark corner, then when the poor animal has finally had enough he'll shout "Dad, do something, the cat hissed at me." Though to keep the analogy going, I would have to provide him with a tank. And when he'd used it to blast off the cat's whiskers I'd call the two of them to a summit in Cairo and say "Honestly, the pair of you are as bad as each other."

He'll prod the cat, tweak its tail, push it from the settee into a dark corner, then when the poor animal has finally had enough he'll shout "Dad, do something, the cat hissed at me." Though to keep the analogy going, I would have to provide him with a tank. And when he'd used it to blast off the cat's whiskers I'd call the two of them to a summit in Cairo and say "Honestly, the pair of you are as bad as each other."

Just how ineffective the summit in Egypt was, can be sensed from the response to Yasser Arafat's call for a United Nations investigation into the recent killings. Mr Clinton rejected this, but he did agree to an American-led "fact-finding committee", which would produce a report to be "shared by the US president and the UN secretary general". So Kofi Annan won't even get his own copy. He'll have to lean over Mr Clinton's shoulder, occasionally yelling at him not to turn over yet as he hasn't finished the bit about which side has the helicopters.

The picture presented by Mr Clinton and many others is of two equal groups of stroppy people who just can't seem to get on. But are they equal? They are up to a point, as both sides are armed. But one is armed with tanks, a highly trained army, a state-of-the-art air force, unconditional backing from the world's foremost superpower, and a secretly and illegally built nuclear capacity. The other side chucks rubble. If this is equal we need to reassess the whole history of warfare

Perhaps the moment when Alexander the Great's domination of Asia was assured was when terrified Persians screamed "My God, run for it, they've got pebbles." Wilfred Owen's most poignant poem may have been the previously unrecognised "Stones! Stones! Quick, boys!/ Flat ones, nobbly ones, chalky ones/ Rats and gas and grenades and shell-shock I don't mind so much/ But I really hate it when they lob stones." Another bunch of UN inspectors should be sent to Iraq with Alan Titchmarsh to check that all the earth is regularly raked and all lumpy objects placed in a skip that has the status of a UN protectorate. And David Trimble must demand Martin McGuinness decommissions his office aquarium, as "some of that shingle in the bottom could go in someone's eye."

It's not just that the two sides aren't equally responsible for the violence; but also that the supposed peace-broker supplies one of the sides with $2bn worth of arms per year. So if they want to be truly neutral they should either cut that out or, more controversially, send the Palestinians $2bn worth of rubble.

Ever more ridiculous statements are made to further the notion of two equal adversaries. Ninety five of the 100 killed in recent days have been Palestinian, so the story is that many of these were "caught in the crossfire". Maybe that's what happened when 20,000 civilians were killed during the invasion of Lebanon. Silly Lebanon was caught in the crossfire, as the Israelis were really aiming at Peru.

Or there's the claim in The Daily Telegraph that Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple in Jerusalem that provoked the current violence was merely "flamboyant". Which would be a fair enough description, as long as there's a bit the rest of us missed where he arrived in a pink nightie and danced to the choruses of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

The Cairo summit did serve one purpose, which was to inform us what the Americans mean by "peace". Because Mr Clinton didn't call any emergency summits while the Israelis were bulldozing hundreds of Palestinian homes. Peace is when the Palestinians are getting a pasting but are too subdued to respond. Which may be why the Barak regime seems to believe that Arafat could stop the Palestinian violence if only he tried, as if people aren't intelligent enough to get angry unless someone tells them to be.

For the Palestinians, the peace process was about consolidating one-sided violence, in return for a fun-sized Palestine which would, in the words of one Israeli Labour Party document be "like Luxembourg; without might but with a flag and stamps". Not even an entry into the Eurovision Song Contest!

But the most unpleasant argument that emerges in these situations, is the one that suggests to oppose the Israeli actions equates to being anti-semitic. As if you're only properly Jewish if you support gunmen and road diggers that catch an alarming number of people and houses in the crossfire, and a country in which Jews are subservient to their masters in the White House. It's like someone saying you're not a proper south Londoner unless you support Millwall and approve of driving steamrollers through the housing estates of Camden. Though to keep the analogy going you'd have to call the steamroller and the squashed houses to Cairo and say "honestly, the pair of you are as bad as each other."

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