Palestinians care as much about their children as we do

Opinion: Netanyahu spokesman’s words closely follow pollster Luntz’s language

‘Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had made the same point in a CNN interview seven days earlier. “All civilian casualties are unintended by us but actually intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can . . .They use telegenically-dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead the better’.” Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

‘Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had made the same point in a CNN interview seven days earlier. “All civilian casualties are unintended by us but actually intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can . . .They use telegenically-dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead the better’.” Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 12:01

A columnist in an Irish newspaper last Sunday offered an answer to a question from by Channel 4’s Jon Snow – “Why doesn’t the US buy a similar dome for Gaza?” Snow had just returned from a reporting stint in the region. He spoke passionately and in distress of the maimed and dead children he had encountered in Gaza’s shattered hospitals.

Israel has its “Iron Dome” supplied by the US, a system capable of tracking and destroying incoming Hamas rockets. Some rockets get through, putting innocent civilians, including children, at deadly risk. Gaza has no equivalent of the dome to protest its children. There has been a handful of civilian casualties in Israel. Palestinian children have been dying in droves. Hence Snow’s question.

The columnist answered: “Well, I suspect that wouldn’t suit the PR battle Hamas is currently waging – and winning. Even if they are committing war crimes by hiding arms and terrorists in schools and hospitals, they know the liberal West will still blame Israel for all deaths. Every dead body is a win for Hamas.”

Subtext: savages

Some Palestinians don’t care about children being killed, then. Not even their own children. “Savages”, runs the subtext. Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu had made the same point in a CNN interview seven days earlier.

“All civilian casualties are unintended by us but actually intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can,” he said.

“They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead the better.’’

There’s nothing original about this. The same was said by the French in Algeria and of the Kikuyu during Britain’s war against Keyna’s Land and Freedom Army. The US commander in Vietnam, Gen William Westmoreland, when asked how he could justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, including many civilians, responded: “The oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does a westerner . . . We value life and human dignity. They don’t care about life and human dignity.”

Arabs, Africans, orientals . . . All the same. Not as us.

The idea of the Palestinians deliberately bringing death on themselves and their families for propaganda purposes had been suggested by US Republican Party pollster Frank Luntz in a 116-page booklet written five years ago following the second-last Israeli assault on Gaza.

The report, Global Language Dictionary, had been commissioned by a US lobby group, the Israel Project, and has since become the bible, so to speak, of Israeli spokespersons dealing with international media.

The pronouncements of Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev follow the Luntz script so closely the pollster’s words might be scrolling down his autocue.

Israeli PR machine

Unlimited economic and military support are not the US’s only contribution to the Israeli war machine. The PR service is top-range too and, as is evident in sections of our own media, very effective.

Persuading intelligent, decent people that there are Palestinians who couldn’t care less about their children being crushed to death in the rubble of a bomb blast is quite an achievement.

Anybody who has sat in a Palestinian home with a family and talked about their fears for the future of the children scampering all around will find it hard to contain their anger at the suggestion that some of them are so without ordinary human feeling that they would sacrifice their own children on the altar of the ideology of Hamas or any other group

I met Rafeef Ziadah last year. We spent a pleasant day in a pub and then went to a poetry session. She is from Palestine. Here’s a snippet from one of the works she recited:

“Pause. Smile. We teach life, sir. Remember to smile. Pause. We teach life, sir.

“We Palestinians teach life after they have occupied the last sky. We teach life after they have built their settlements and apartheid walls, after the last skies. We teach life, sir.

“I vent out words and smile not exotic. Smile, not terrorist, and I recount, I recount a hundred dead, 200 dead, 1,000 dead. Is anyone out there? Will anyone listen?

“I wish I could wail over their bodies. I wish I could just run barefoot in every refugee camp and hold every child, cover their ears so they wouldn’t have to hear the sound of bombing for the rest of their life the way I do . . .

“Today, my body was a TVed massacre, and let me just tell you there is nothing your UN resolutions have ever done about this, and no soundbite, no soundbite I come up with, no matter how good my English gets, no soundbite, no soundbite, no soundbite, no soundbite will bring them back to life. No soundbite will fix this.

“We teach life, sir. We teach life, sir. We Palestinians wake up every morning to teach the rest of the world life, sir.”

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