Tuesday, 29 July 2014

If Gaza Were Ireland

English: A republican wall mural in coalisland...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As the world stands idly by and Ban Ki Moon waffles incomprehensibly about peace, it struck me what would have happened if Britain had behaved in Northern Ireland as Israel has in Gaza and the West Bank.

It's the same sort of gig, after all. The occupation of a territory and all that. Religious divisions and an artificial border. 'Freedom fighters' bringing their violent protests over that border into the heart of the occupying power.

Except the IRA was actually quite good at it, where Hamas is rubbish. The IRA killed hundreds of British citizens and soldiers, in fact murdered thousands in their campaign for Irish freedom. Hamas' rocket attacks have yet to hit a significant target or result in any major loss of life - claims for fatalities from rocket attacks so far total two Israelis and a Asian worker. Even the recent celebrated kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths turned out to have no connection to Hamas. And the provocation dealt out in Gaza to cause these attacks is all too little discussed. Those rockets didn't come from nowhere - they were Benjy's reward for his vicious little campaign against the coming together of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

The whole - bloody - conflict in the North since the start of 'the troubles' (whether you date them back to 1916, 1922 or 1969) has taken a smaller toll of human life than the Israeli-sponsored massacres in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps alone. The Israelis are already well over a third of their way to beating the total all-time Irish Troubles Death Record after a couple of weeks' conflict in Gaza. That's some going.

Imagine the global reaction if the UK had sent in helicopter gunships to blow apart Irish Republican houses in Nationalist areas of Belfast. If our response to bombings such as Canary Wharf were to send in ground troops and tanks to lay waste swathes of houses around the Falls Road and reduce whole districts of Tyrone and Armagh to rubble? If our troops poured shells into schools and our politicians glibly trotted out platitudes about them being used as human shields for bomb-making factories? There was a huge political and civil rights fallout from the few - highly targeted - extra-judicial killings that UK forces carried out - but these (and no, I am by no means justifying them) actions were pinpoint intelligence-led operations, not high explosive bludgeoning of tenements, terraces, schools and hospitals packed with innocent civilians.

What values, then, prevented our Western style democracy from acting in the way that Israel has acted towards the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza? How is it that the British - for all their pursuit of influence and power in Ireland over the centuries - found a fundamentally more decent way to manage conflict with rebellion against our occupation - against paramilitaries - than tearing their adversary's children to pieces?

Would the British people have been supportive of our government's bloody treatment of a people under our occupation if we had been blowing up their houses, degrading their basic infrastructure and killing innocents? Or would we have concluded that our government was monstrous and refused to let our whole society be led into unforgivable monstrosity in the name of a 'war against terror'?

Imagine if we'd killed a thousand Irish people in a week-long 'ground war' against the IRA in Belfast.

Do you think the world would have stood idly by as Ban Ki Moon waffled incomprehensibly about peace then?


Anonymous said...

Video : Under fire in Gaza as Hamas ceasefire stalls


Duffy said...

Well, they didn't fly helocopter gunships into Belfast but there certainly was detention without trial, torture, confessions from torture, beatings, creation of a surveillance state, shooting of civilians at marches, etc.

Why is it we feel compelled to choose sides when everybody is acting like an asshole?

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