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Justice Not Revenge
In war one does not kill children. That is a fundamental human instinct, common to all peoples and all cultures. Even a Palestinian who wants to take revenge for the hundreds of children killed by the Israeli army should not take revenge on children. No moral commandment says "a child for a child" … As the Hebrew poet Bialik wrote a hundred years ago, after the Kishinev pogrom: "Even Satan has not yet invented the revenge for the blood of a little child." - Uri Avnery

Anthony McIntyre • 17 November, 2002

Every conflict region in the world seems to generate its own hierarchy of victims. The lives of some children are considered more important than others; that when they are lost there is a need to generate a public outcry that somehow becomes muted when the lives of others are extinguished. This week the Irish Times reported on a Palestinian attack on a kibbutz beside the border with the West Bank which resulted in five Israeli civilians being killed. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a Fatah derivative claimed responsibility for the attack.The report named four of the victims and outlined the actions that led to their deaths: 'a single gunman crawled under the fence surrounding the kibbutz ... he then turned his gun on Yitzhak Dori ... the gunman then burst into a home and shot dead Revital Ohayon (34) and her two children - Matan (5) and Noam (4) - who were in their beds.'

Kibbutz Metzer is populated in large part by leftists from Argentina and their offspring. Long opposed to the right wing repressive regime in their home country they made their lives in Israel but without ever compromising their opposition to injustice. They support the establishment of a Palestinian state. Sam Bahour who features regularly on this site observed in sorrow that:

This is the same Kibbutz only a few weeks ago that stood with Palestinians in defiance of the Wall of Racism that Sharon is building to separate the two peoples while confiscating Palestinians lands simultaneously.

It is only right that the wider public have access to information pertaining to actions which lead to events like the slaughter at Kibbutz Metzer, particularly so when it jars with what we like to hear. And those of us who support Palestinian freedom must also take note of the heinous atrocities carried out in its pursuit by some rather than face the accusation that we delude ourselves into believing that the Israelis alone have a monopoly on crimes against humanity. The Palestinian Authority condemned the shooting, saying that turning Palestinians and Israelis ‘into targets of terror attacks is disgraceful.' The father of the two dead children asked 'How can a man - if you can call him a man - shoot a boy with two pacifiers and kill him?'

The Israeli writer, Sami Michael, who earlier this year became the new president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), believes that the conflict with the Palestinians is poisoning Israeli democracy. One wonders if the same may not be said of any developing secular Palestinian democracy - that attacks of the type referred to in the Irish Times are poisoning its progress.

Yet such reporting is not so much wrong factually as it is in terms of perspective construction. Its limitations seriously hamper a more fuller understanding of what is happening in the occupied territories. At the end of the Irish Times article the readers were informed that 'in the Gaza Strip meanwhile, Palestinians reported that a two-year-old boy was killed by Israeli army fire in the southern town of Rafah.' No, name, no circumstance - almost an afterthought. In much of the Western press Palestinian children don’t just have that same amount of humanness within their bodies. And their human rights for that reason are in less need of defence. Hence too little is said when F16s bomb Gaza and slaughter 9 Palestinian children and the psychopath that leads Israel congratulates the pilot and boasts of a great success.

Much of this shaping and filtering has been achieved quite deliberately and systematically through the manufacturing and mobilisation of bias. The state of Israel has learned much from Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister for propaganda. As Edward Said has put it:

I cannot think of any other country on earth that, in full view of nightly TV audiences, has performed such miracles of detailed sadism against an entire society and gotten away with it …The monstrous transformation of an entire people by a formidable and feared propaganda machine into little more than militants and terrorists has allowed not just Israel's military but its fleet of writers and defenders to efface a terrible history of injustice, suffering and abuse in order to destroy the civil existence of the Palestinian people with impunity.

And when you strip people of humanity is it to be wondered at if they fail to see you as human and seek to do to you what you have done to them? There is no justification ever for murdering children. Stating that won't prevent it. But to evade stating it allows such murder to breath all the more easier. Israeli state reasoning is beyond all ethical appeal. Nevertheless, if Palestinian resistance is not to mirror the brutality of Israeli oppression justice rather revenge should be its guiding light.





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It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.
- Arthur Calwell
Index: Current Articles

17 November 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


The People Who Can't Be Bought
Bernadette McAliskey


Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolutions
Liam O Ruairc


For Stormont & PSNI

Brian Mór


Should Adams Be Meeting With US Warmongers?
Eamonn McCann


Justice Not Revenge
Anthony McIntyre


Arbitrary Imprisonment

Sam Bahour and Michael Dahan


Support The Life Savers and Not The Life Takers
Davy Carlin


14 November 2002


The Legacy of Seamus Costello
Liam O Ruairc


A Balancing Act
Martin Patriquin


The Legal Fictions And The Awkward Questions
Anthony McIntyre



Brian Mór



Brian Mór


Guess Who's Back

Brian Mór


Arbitrary Imprisonment

Sam Bahour and Paul de Rooij


Iraq. Palestine. Give Your Support.
Davy Carlin


The Letters page has been updated.




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